The firing of James Gunn from the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy has become something of a flashpoint. Since Disney fired the director on July 20 in reaction to right-wing social media backlash against old tweets in which Gunn made jokes about child abuse (for which he had already apologized in 2012), there has been significant pushback online, culminating in a joint open letter from the franchise’s cast, which they shared on their respective social media outlets on Monday, July 30.
In the letter, the cast — which includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn (James’s brother), Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, and Michael Rooker — say they “fully support” Gunn and “[look] forward to working with our friend James again in the future.” The letter also explicitly addresses the “mob mentality” that led to Gunn’s firing.
The letter follows a wave of social media outcry, including individual social media posts from the cast responding to the firing and promising a larger future statement, which likely refers to this new letter.
I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this..@JamesGunn 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. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) July 21, 2018
It’s been a challenging weekend I’m not gonna lie. I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of term. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will.— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) July 22, 2018
“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,” Gunn wrote in a Twitter thread, shortly before taking a break from the site (his account currently remains active). “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.”
Gunn has not tweeted about the situation (or anything else) since that thread, and Disney has yet to comment further on either the firing or the reaction to it since its initial statement. But more than a week later, Gunn’s firing is still generating plenty of conversation and pushback: Actress Selma Blair quit Twitter over the weekend in a show of solidarity, posting a link to a petition to rehire Gunn, which now has more than 300,000 signatures and spawned the hashtag #RehireJamesGunn.