'We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.'
The future of Guardians of the Galaxy was always going to be uncertain following the events of the latest Avengers: Infinity War film, however there’s a number of complex production difficulties behind the scenes that are also proving problematic. The series’ director James Gunn was fired after a number of his old tweets making light of pedophilia and rape resurfaced online, throwing the next film into jeopardy. However, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and many other members of the cast have banded together in support of James Gunn – asking for him to be reinstated as director.
Chris Pratt shared a message titled An Open Letter from the Cast of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and captioned it, ‘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.’
Several members of the cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker signed the message. In it, they wrote that they ‘fully support James Gunn’ and were ‘shocked by his abrupt firing last week’.
The message continued, ‘Being in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movies has been a great honour in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.’
Some of the stars including Karen Gillan and Sean Gunn also hash tagged their letter #wearegroot, a reference to one of the film’s iconic lines.
Conservative bloggers, including controversial figure Mike Ceranovich involved in a movement called Gamergate that targeted women in video gaming, were the first to discover James Gunn’s tweets. Some fans speculated that James Gunn was specifically targeted due to his outspoken political opinions on Twitter, where he was made no secret of the fact that he was very anti-Trump.
The Guardians’ cast alluded to this in their letter, writing, ‘There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial. Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.’
After James Gunn’s old tweets spread like wildfire online, Disney announced that they were cutting ties with him.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said, ‘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.’
James Gunn also released his own apology at the time on Twitter, saying, ‘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.’
He continued, ‘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.’
The Guardians’ cast have been for the most part very quiet about James Gunn’s firing (presumably because they were working on this joint statement). However, his brother Sean Gunn who plays Kraglin in the films was one of the first to come forwards and provided an insight into the director’s growth of character.
The former Gilmore Girls star wrote in a lengthy statement, ‘Since devoting his entire life to the Guardians movies and MCU six years ago, I’ve seen him channel that voice into his work on those movies and seen him transform from the guy who made up things to shock people.’
He continued, ‘In many respects this change in my brother was reflected in the change that the Guardians go through. I’ve heard my brother say many times that when Quill rallies the team with “this is our chance to give a shit”–to care–that it’s the pep talk he himself needed to hear…Working on those movies made my brother a better person, and they made me one too. I’m proud of that.’
Many fans have come out in support of James Gunn and his reinstatement as director, while others have drawn comparisons between the firing of the conservative star of Roseanne for her history of racist and controversial tweets – stating that it would be a double standard if he were allowed to return. At this moment in time, a Change.org petition called Re-hire James Gunn has garnered more than 350,000 signatures at the time of publication.
The Guardians’ cast said in their open letter, ‘Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over – not by a long shot.’