Despite support from the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy, Entertainment Weekly reports that it appears James Gunn will not be rehired for the third film in the hit Marvel movie franchise. Disney, the parent company of Marvel, seems to be upholding its decision to fire the director over inappropriate tweets from a decade ago, despite the reported meeting between Gunn and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. The head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has also reportedly backed the decision.
But according to Variety, the meeting between Gunn and Horn was little more than courtesy for UTA, who represents the director. Feige was out of town and could not attend the meeting. The studio fired Gunn almost a month ago when the tweets were first brought to attention.
There have been no comments from Disney, Marvel, or James Gunn on the matter at this point.
The tweets contained jokes about sexual assault and pedophilia. After they came to light, Disney fired Gunn from his position as director on the new Guardians of the Galaxy film. Some have suggested that the Twitter posts were dug up by alt-right conservative agitators.
Gunn has apologized for the statements both on Twitter and in interviews.
“I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
Marvel fans have rallied around Gunn and called for Disney to rehire him. The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy also posted an open letter in support of the director, including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, and Sean Gunn.
“It’s not an easy time,” Chris Pratt said in a recent interview. “We all love James and he’s a good friend of ours, but we also really love playing the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a complicated situation for everybody.”
Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in the movies, has said he will fulfill his obligations for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 but is upset with the circumstances, calling it nauseating to work for someone who’d empower a smear campaign by fascists.
Disney and Marvel will now have to begin searching for a new director, which might cause the production to be delayed. Originally the film was slated to start production in early 2019 for a 2020 theater release.