Over 150,000 people – so far – have signed a petition to Disney demanding the reinstatement of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn.
Gunn was fired from the franchise he both co-writes and directs on Friday after long-deleted tweets were unearthed and published by a far-right activist.
Marvel fan Chandler Edwards launched the petition, saying ‘I’m smart enough to know this most likely won’t change anything but hopefully, this could get Disney to realize the mistake they made and not do it again in the future’.
“I agree on the point that if people say a bunch of stupid s**t while working for a studio, the studio has full right to fire him over the possible controversy. This situation is very different though as he made these jokes years before he was working for Disney and also the fact that they were jokes,” he added.
A number of off colour tweets, sent by Gunn between 2009 and 2010, joked about rape and paedophilia.
In a statement, Gunn admitted sending trying to use ‘outrageous and taboo’ humour, but added that ‘my days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over’.
“For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it,” he added.
“Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.”
After being made aware of the comments, Disney said in a statement: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’s Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”
The third film in the series was set to start filming in the Autumn, with a 2020 release date in place, though it’s not known yet whether this will have to be shifted back.
Since his firing, Dave Bautista, who plays Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians movies, has come to his defence.
“I will have more to say but for right now I will say this,” he wrote on Twitter.
“James Gunn is one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. I’m NOT ok with what’s happening to him.”
Ant-Man and The Wasp star David Dastalmachian added:
Appalled by the treatment of Gunn, Michael Rooker, who plays Yondu and has worked with the director on numerous projects, quit the social media platform, adding ‘Twitter sucks and I want nothing to do with it’.
Sean Gunn, Gunn’s actor brother, also tweeted in support of him, but so far the likes of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige are yet to speak out.
The tweets were unearthed by right-wing media personality and so-called ‘male supremacist’ Mike Cernovich, one of the advocates of the discredited Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which alleged that Hillary Clinton was at the centre of child sex ring.
Supporters of Gunn have been quick to retweet equally offensive remarks made by Cernovich on Twitter.