James Gunn's fans are not ready to let him go without a fight.
It's been two days since Gunn, the director who launched the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise at Disney-owned Marvel Studios and who was in the process of developing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for the company, was fired by Disney after offensive social media posts resurfaced. Shortly after his firing was announced, a petition arrived on Change.org that was titled simply "RE-HIRE JAMES GUNN." The petition argues that Gunn should not be fired for jokes which he has long since admitted were not appropriate, and which are often many years old. It also argues, as many fans have, that his firing by Disney creates a slippery slope in which any celebrity who has ever said anything even remotely offensive could be fired, no matter how far they've come since.
As of this writing, the petition has gathered more than 58,000 signatures, among them The Grey director Joe Carnahan, who also tweeted his support for the petition and for Gunn.
The social media posts that led to Gunn's firing were often at least a decade old, and as Gunn has acknowledged they were framed as shock-value, "provocateur" jokes, not as actual statements of support for things like rape and pedophilia. Still, far right website The Daily Caller went searching and found the old posts after Gunn's frequent call-outs of President Donald Trump and other right wing figures on Twitter, and the statements were enough for Disney to choose to let him go.
Many have rallied to Gunn's defense, including Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Dave Bautista, comedian Patton Oswalt, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, and Gunn's own brother Sean, who also co-stars in the Guardians films. Their arguments are not only that Gunn's views on those old "jokes" have evolved since he wrote them, but that the motives of those who dug the posts up were not entirely noble, and that Gunn's firing is an example of ignoring someone's personal and professional growth and holding them accountable for past mistakes they've long since worked to make amends for.
Now, Gunn's fans are also getting in on the act in an organized way. The creator of the petition acknowledges that it may not make much of dent in terms of changing Disney's mind, but it is at the very least an example of the massive support Gunn still has in the fan community in the wake of his firing.