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Disney Fires Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn Over Controversial Twitter Jokes

James Gunn.
James Gunn attends the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp on June 25 in Los Angeles. Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Disney has fired James Gunn as the director of the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie over tweets from several years ago that make light of rape and pedophilia. “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. Gunn had already begun writing the script for the movie, which was planned for a fall shoot.

Conservative personalities Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec posted screenshots of several now-deleted tweets, evidently written by Gunn between 2009 and 2011, on Friday. “I’m doing a big Hollywood adaptation of The Giving Tree with a happy ending - the tree grows back and gives the kid a blowjob,” one of the tweets reads. Others refer to “little boys” and to the North American Man/Boy Love Association.

Gunn responded on Twitter by writing that he once thought of himself as a “provocateur” but that his sense of humor has changed:

The controversial tweets were unearthed shortly after Gunn, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, defended fellow director Mark Duplass for recommending—and then apologizing for recommending—that people follow right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro. Cernovich apparently searched for the word pedophile in Gunn’s Twitter history.

Update, July 20, 2018, 6.05 p.m. EDT: Gunn has issued an additional statement to BuzzFeed News regarding his firing, in which he says, “Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today.”

The full statement is below:

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.