Posted: October 10, 2018
By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
After being fired by Disney earlier this year, the man behind the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise has jumped from Disney-owned Marvel to the DC Universe.
Warner Bros and DC have hired James Gunn to write the second film of “Suicide Squad,” and he could find himself in the director’s chair, Deadline reported.
He was fired in July after old, controversial tweets came to light during the height of the #MeToo movement.
The tweets included comments that he at the time considered provocative, on topics of rape and pedophillia, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Many in the cast of the hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” films wrote an open letter to to Disney asking the company to reinstate Gunn. But Disney CEO Bob Iger, despite outcry from fans too said “I haven’t second-guessed their decision.”
“Suicide Squad” focuses on the villains of the DC Universe, including, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Deadshot and Killer Croc.
DC and Warner Bros. say Gunn’s script won’t be a sequel to the original film, but rather a new take on the anti-hero team, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
As for the next “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, no one has officially been tapped to direct it, but some industry watchers says the director of “Thor: Ragnarok,” Taika Waititi, could be on a short list, Deadline reported.
Sources told the Reporter that crew members were dismissed and allowed to look for other jobs.
The Disney and Marvel movie was supposed to be directed by James Gunn and production was scheduled to begin in January or February.
However, Gunn was fired from the franchise’s third installment in July over offensive tweets about pedophilia and rape.
"The timeline has been pushed out," a source told the Reporter.
Disney had no comment, according to the Reporter.
Director James Gunn joked about AIDS patients, rape and child rape in a slew of vintage tweets thatgot him booted from the next “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie.
The stars want Marvel to hire him back.
“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,” actor Chris Pratt posted with an open letter he signed along with cast members Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Sean Gunn (James Gunn’s brother).
“We fully support James Gunn,” it begins. “We were all shocked at his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these 10 days in order to think pray, listen and discuss.”
The letter goes on to say no one defends “his jokes of many years ago” but otherwise makes no mention of the tweets that got Gunn fired.
But Walt Disney Studios is not planning to rehire Gunn, Variety reported, citing unnamed sources.
Gunn’s among the list of celebrities facing self-inflicted professional wounds from ill-considered tweets.
ABC canceled “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr’s tweet comparing Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett to an offspring of "Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes." She later said she was referring to anti-Semitism, but the backpedaling didn’t save her job.
Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb apologized after racist, sexist and anti-gay tweets he posted as a teenager surfaced on Sunday.
“It was a long time ago – six, seven years ago – saying some stupid stuff with friends,” he said after the game. I know I’ve grown a lot since then. I didn’t mean anything by it. It was just something stupid that I did a long time ago.”
After Monday’s game, Newcomb said he had spoken to his teammates about the situation and felt it was important to apologize immediately after the old tweets became news.
“I just really want to apologize,” he said. “I know it was hurtful. That’s not a testament to who I am. I just remain very, very remorseful.”
Team and Major League Baseball officials condemned the post and say Newcomb will complete diversity training. Newcomb has deleted his Twitter account.
Danica Kombol, a social media strategist and CEO of the Atlanta-based Everywhere Agency, warned that social media fingerprints last forever.
“What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter,” she said. “Don’t put anything on social media that you wouldn’t put on the front page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”
She doesn’t hold a lot of sympathy for the youthful-indiscretions defense.
“Poor Sean, he was a teenager? I don’t think that’s a valid excuse,” she said. “It’s really incumbent upon brands to do their due diligence before they hire people and really do a complete exploration of their complete digital footprint. It couldn’t have been that hard for the Braves to have found this.”
Andy Beal, CEO of Reputation Refinery and author of “Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation,” said the key to recovering from damaging social-media revelations “is to show humility, demonstrate sincerity, and apologize quickly whenever you make a mistake.”
He doesn’t think the age of a social media post, or the age of its author at the time it was penned, serves to mitigate career-wounding chatter.
“While the statute of limitations may protect someone from criminal prosecution, such protection does not apply to the court of public opinion,” he said. “Your online reputation is always the sum of all of your actions, past and present. In addition, it is the sum of the sincerity of your apology, past and present.”
“Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” was among the Marvel projects to be headquartered at Pinewood Studios in Fayette County, and work on the next in the series had begun.
Author and commentator Eric Schiffer, CEO of ReputationManagementConsultants.com, doubts Gunn will be returning for the third installment.
“Gunn’s comments are so inconsistent with Disney it would be like killing Mickey Mouse to bring him back and try to mix his brand to what Disney stands for,” Schiffer said. “They’re disgusting and they make you question his rationality. There should be limits on how people speak about children.”
Marvel Entertainment is a Disney subsidiary.
Gunn, who turns 52 on Sunday has apologized for the vile tweets, saying he has grown as a person in the years since they were posted. Few of the offending messages can be printed or posted in a family newspaper and its online site - and they’ve been scrubbed from Gunn’s Twitter account.
But Internet sleuths have posted screen grabs that will live on forever.
“Just made a joke about (expletive) raping my friend when she was asleep,” he tweeted in August 2008. In April 2011 he tweeted, “I want to go big game hunting but know it’s morally questionable. so I’m going to split the difference and go big game raping.”
Several other posts describe various sex acts involving children, some using lewd terms.
“Three Men and a Baby They Had Sex With,” Gunn tweeted in June 2012, with the hashtag #unromantic movies. In December 2012 he posted, “Eagle Snatches Kid” is what I call it when I get lucky.”
Metro Atlanta app developer Sal Principato spends much of his professional life online and warns young practitioners to post with the future in mind.
“There isn't anything you can do to be 100 percent safe from any future repercussions based on what you post or tweet,” he said. “Any machine that touched the data you transmitted could be cached and recovered at anytime, given enough resources.”
Disney wasted little time in severing ties with Gunn after the posts surfaced.
"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," Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement at the time.
But Gunn has attracted other high-profile support in addition to the “Galaxy” cast; actress Selma Blair left Twitter in a show of solidarity.
Meanwhile, Barr took to Twitter to weigh in.
“I’m disgusted to read all of the support for James Gunn’s pedophile jokes,” she posted. “The same people supported blacklisting me for a joke they didn’t even understand.”
Director James Gunn joked about AIDS patients, rape and pedophilia in a slew of old tweets that got him fired from the next “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, but an open letter from the film’s stars suggests they want him back.
“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,” actor Chris Pratt posted on Instagram with an open letter signed by the cast.
“We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked at his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these 10 days in order to think pray, listen and discuss,” the letter read. “In that time we have been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3, as well as discouraged by those who were so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories around him.”
The letter was signed by Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and Pom Klementieff.
Gunn has apologized for the tweets, saying he has grown as a person in the years since they were posted.
“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,” he said in a Twitter thread responding to the controversy. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.”
He concluded by saying, “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.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gunn has been working on a script for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” before he was fired. The film was set to shoot in Atlanta. Gunn previously said it would be released in 2020.
The shocking tweets, which had been taken down, aren’t new and Gunn had apologized for them in the past, but conservative media personalities resurfaced the posts from 2008 - 2011 this week, causing a backlash against Gunn, who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
"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," Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Gunn also issued a statement Friday, saying he’s a “very, very different” person than he was a few years ago and that he’s “developed as a person” since he posted the offensive tweets.
"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative," he said. "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."
“I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore,” he said.
Gunn was fired before a scheduled appearance Friday at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
He was still writing the script for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and was expected to start shooting the movie this fall in Atlanta.
Disney and Marvel Studios saw huge successes with the “Guardian” movies, with the first one making more than $773 million and the second raking in $863, according to THR.
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