Breaking: James Gunn Fired From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

UPDATE: James Gunn has released a statement to Entertainment Weekly on his firing from the upcoming Guardians sequel, saying:

“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. 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.’

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

The original story follows.

In a shocking development (via The Hollywood Reporter), Walt Disney Studios has fired writer/director James Gunn from the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the sequel to the filmmaker’s first two massively successful Guardians films for Marvel Studios. The move comes after several conservative personalities pulled old Tweets by the director from 2009-2012 in which he made transgressive jokes about rape and pedophilia. He has since ceased posting on his Twitter account.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn in a statement.

Before leaving his account, Gunn tweeted, “Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”

Earlier this year, director James Gunn revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would be released in 2020. Filming was scheduled to start this Fall in Atlanta, but it is unknown if the film will keep to this schedule. The third Guardians film was meant to be the final outing for the original team lineup, and set up future films in the cosmic arena of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is not the first time Gunn’s irreverent humor has come back to haunt him. In 2012, not long after he had been given the job to helm the first Guardians, an article posted on his site in 2011 titled “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” came under scrutiny. While it was Gunn’s attempt to parody sexist attitudes of comic fans, some of his writing was a bit too extreme and often mirrored real-life comments from toxic fan culture.

“A couple of years ago I wrote a blog that was meant to be satirical and funny,” Gunn said in a statement in 2012. “In rereading it over the past day I don’t think it’s funny. The attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I’m sorry and regret making them at all. People who are familiar with me as evidenced by my Facebook page and other mediums know that I’m an outspoken proponent for the rights of the gay and lesbian community, women and anyone who feels disenfranchised, and it kills me that some other outsider like myself, despite his or her gender or sexuality, might feel hurt or attacked by something I said. We’re all in the same camp, and I want to do my best to make this world a better place for all of us. I’m learning all the time. I promise to be more careful with my words in the future. And I will do my best to be funnier as well. Much love to all.”

While the controversy ultimately did not cost Gunn his job at the time, the cultural climate has shifted in recent years, with Marvel parent company Disney recently firing Roseanne Barr from her hit sitcom Roseanne for making racist remarks on Twitter. It is unknown who will take over for Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, or if the film will be cancelled altogether. The first film was a critical and box office smash, grossing $773 million in 2014, with the 2017 sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 grossing $863 million. Gunn’s blend of edgy humor and genuine emotion set to a classic rock soundtrack helped define the series, and even served as an advisor to the Russo Bros. when they took on the characters for this year’s Avengers: Infinity War.

Keep checking back to for more developments in the fate of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)