'Guardians of the Galaxy' cast criticise 'mob mentality' that led to director James Gunn's firing

It has been 10 days since Disney fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn over a series of inappropriate Twitter jokes the filmmaker made between 2009 and 2012, and the backlash to that decision has only continued to mount.

Guardians stars Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, and Zoe Saldana have all responded to their collaborator’s dismissal with varying degrees of unhappy social posts, while thousands of fans have signed a petition demanding Gunn’s reinstatement to the Marvel franchise.

And on Monday, the entire Guardians cast joined forces for a joint statement about Gunn’s fate — which indicates that they’re strongly supportive of calls to get him back behind the camera for the series’ third instalment.

From left, Guardians<em> of the Galaxy Vol. 2</em> cast members Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Chris Pratt, James Gunn, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, and Michael Rooker. (Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
From left, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cast members Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Chris Pratt, James Gunn, Kurt Russell, Karen Gillan, and Michael Rooker. (Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

Karen Gillan (who plays Nebula in the Guardians films) took to Twitter Monday afternoon to post an “Open Letter from the Cast of Guardians of the Galaxy,” which is signed by Pratt (Star-Lord/Peter Quill), Saldana (Gamora), Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Gillan, Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Vin Diesel (Groot), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Michael Rooker (Yondu), and Sean Gunn (Kraglin), with the spirit-of-solidarity #wearegroot hashtag:

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Pratt reposted that letter on his own Instagram account, along with a definitive message: “Although I don’t support James Gunn’s inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man. I’d personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3. If you please, read the following statement — signed by our entire cast.”

While this letter makes it sound like the actors are resigned to Gunn’s firing, it also underlines that they’re not pleased about it — nor what they refer to as the “mob mentality” that brought it about in the first place. They also make a plea for less cultural divisiveness and warn about the dangers of social-media expression — and the latter has already been heeded by Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, who recently deleted 20,000 tweets for basic self-preservation reasons.

What resounds most forcefully in their missive, however, is the sense that Gunn has been wronged by, among other things, “outlandish conspiracy theories” (Gunn’s offending tweets were resurfaced by right-wing activists Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich and cheered by conservatives who were targeted by Gunn’s vehemently anti-Trump posts). The cast’s joint statement radiates hurt, frustration, and anger regarding how Gunn was treated, which in turn may leave the door open for his return — since, after all, they now wield considerable clout and influence over the Guardians franchise (unless Disney would like to continue making movies with a group of seriously unhappy, and irreplaceable, stars).

Gunn had recently finished a script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is still tentatively slated for 2020. Although given the ongoing upheaval for the property, that’s probably not something on which to put any money.

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