We all know the story by now.
James Gunn was fired from his directing duties on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, due to 2011 tweets (in which he made some rather despicable jokes) that were dragged out in public by a group of alt-right trolls. Disney reacted to the pressure and dismissed Gunn - despite his previous apologies for said tasteless social media transmissions, as well as, you know, working for Troma in the past - an action whose advocates' motivations Andrew summed up nicely in his superlative piece on the matter:
"Let’s get something straight: nobody involved in the principal anti-Gunn campaign was genuinely concerned about his tweets - at least, not some jokes he made years ago. These were members of the alt-right who hate the things Gunn tweets about Donald Trump. They’ve almost certainly made more offensive jokes than Gunn in their lives - hell, so has Trump, while holding the office of president. Gunn grew out of his edgelord phase into a more mature, empathetic filmmaker, while Trump supporters continue to cheer at their boy's sexual assault jokes and savour his racist invective. They hate that Gunn is no longer one of them, hate that he criticises their beloved president, and hate that he’s a successful filmmaker - and their first instinct is to get him fired."
Well, Andrew wasn't the only one (rightfully) questioning the precedent that Gunn's firing sets, as a few of the writer/director's Guardians of the Galaxy cast took to Twitter over the last few weeks, and expressed their own concern with the situation. Zoe Saldana was rather diplomatic with her response:
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
Chris Pratt started quoting the Bible (conspicuously from the Book of James):
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) July 22, 2018
While Dave Bautista just tossed all fucks out the window:
What will you do when the #cybernazis attack you? Who will stand by you? Who will cowardly distance themselves from you? Who will punish you for horrible JOKES in the past instead of defending you for INSPIRING millions? MILLIONS!!! #Redemption #injustice @JamesGunn— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) July 22, 2018
There have been a few voices that were noticably absent from the throng - Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel amongst them - but now, a letter has been drafted and signed by the full Guardians cast, citing a petition for Gunn to be brought back by Disney/Marvel:
Now, there are two ways of viewing this development in what's easily one of the biggest stories in 2018's pop cinema landscape: this is just an enormously gracious show of support from a cast toward the creative who's led them into battle twice now, showing that they understand a human being can do wrong in the past, but can also grow and mature and isn't deserving of having their juvenile misdeeds held against them. Disney/Marvel is one of the most intimidatingly large corporate entities in mainstream entertainment, so taking a stand and saying their actions were wrong is quite the statement made by these stars.
There's also a more cynical way to view this letter: as part of a coordinated campaign on Disney's behalf that includes these actors. Could Disney be writing their own public redemption story with the help of these performers behind the scenes, realizing they made a mistake, and are now working toward bringing Gunn back to try and save face in the eyes of millions upon millions of moviegoers? Anything's possible these days, but it'd be great to truly believe that this is simply an act of genuine support from these cinematic misfits, desperately trying to convey their faith in a wrongfully-terminated comrade.
The question still remains: will any of these public displays actually lead to Gunn being reinstated? That obviously will only be answered in time, but for now, sign the petition if you wish, and discuss amongst yourselves whether you think James Gunn should allowed back to helm Guardians, Vol. 3.