James Gunn fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 by Disney over offensive tweets

Disney has fired Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn after a number of offensive social media posts were unearthed.

The filmmaker was at the helm for the first two films in the hit Marvel franchise and had been working on a script for the third.

A US conservative website discovered tweets made between 2008 and 2012 in which Gunn joked about subjects such as paedophilia and rape. The 51-year-old is an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and the current administration.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement: ”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.”

Before his firing, Gunn took to Twitter to apologise for causing offence: “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 humour.”

The director later released an official statement taking “full responsibility” for his actions: “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.”

Guardians of the Galaxy actor Dave Bautista defended the director’s “mistakes” 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.”

Gunn began his Hollywood career as screenwriter on Scooby-Doo and the remake of Dawn of the Dead in the early 2000s. He also acted as an executive producer on Avengers: Infinity War, which has grossed $2bn worldwide at the box office.