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James Gunn, who launched the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise in 2014 and was in the process of writing the third installment of the series, has been removed from his position by the Walt Disney Company.
Gunn's dismissal comes after old, offensive social media posts referencing pedophilia and rape were unearthed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"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 provided to SYFY WIRE.
The tweets, dating back as far as 2008, were found and posted by conservative website The Daily Caller, partially in response to Gunn's frequent criticism of President Donald Trump on Twitter.
Gunn responded to the tweets Thursday night in a thread attempting to explain his past conduct and his evolution as a person and creator.
Gunn then issued a statement in the aftermath of his firing Friday afternoon.
"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."
It's unclear at this point what this means for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was eyeing a 2020 release date. Gunn was also supposed to appear at Sony Pictures' Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con Friday evening, possibly to reveal a still-secret new project. According to Entertainment Weekly, insiders familiar with that event say Gunn will no longer appear. Gunn's involvement at Disney-owned Marvel Studios was also expected to extend beyond Vol 3, but now that too will be left to other filmmakers.
We will provide more information on this developing story as it comes in.