BURBANK (FOX 11 / CNS) - Walt Disney Studios on Friday fired James Gunn as director of the upcoming sequel to "Guardians of the Galaxy'' in response to old Twitter posts that resurfaced in recent days and included joking references to issues such as rape, pedophilia and AIDS.
"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 released by the Burbank-based company.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gunn was working on the script for the third installment of the "Guardians of the Galaxy'' film series, with filming expected to begin this fall in Atlanta, with a planned 2020 release.
When Gunn's Twitter posts -- some dating back to 2008 -- began surfacing this week, he tweeted a lengthy statement saying the old comments do not reflect who he is today.
"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,'' he wrote. "As I have discussed publicly many times, as I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. 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.
"In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people,'' he wrote. "I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn't living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
"Anyway, that's the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don't anymore. I don't blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.''
Gunn, 51, directed and co-wrote the first two "Guardians of the Galaxy'' films.