‘Guardians‘ Star Dave Bautista Is ‘Not OK’ With James Gunn’s Firing
Fans of both James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy received quite a shock yesterday, when it was revealed that Disney had fired the filmmaker over a series of old, offensive tweets. The tweets, which contained crass, juvenile jokes about rape and children, were dug up by alt-right personality Mike Cernovich — one of many conservatives who took issue with Gunn’s ongoing criticisms of Donald Trump and his administration. Since Gunn’s firing, several people have come to the director’s defense, including Guardians star Dave Bautista.
Although many of Gunn’s tweets were almost a decade old, and despite the fact that he had already publicly apologized for his juvenile and provocative sense of humor several years ago, Disney wasted absolutely no time removing the filmmaker from his post at Marvel — where he wrote and directed both Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, and had signed on to return for the third film. While the fate of Vol. 3 remains uncertain (for now), at least one of the series’ stars has come to Gunn’s defense. Bautista, who plays the brute Drax the Destroyer, tweeted out his disapproval of Disney’s decision and his support of Gunn, whom he describes as “one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met”:
Bautista wasn’t the only MCU star to defend Gunn — although his fellow Guardians have yet to address the firing, Ant-Man star and character actor David Dastmalchian posted his words of support on Instagram along with a photo:
i’ve been saying this FOR YEARS! @jamesgunn is one of the most amazing people i’ve ever known - both professionally & personally. there are so many people in our lives that we would never have known without the incredible magnet of talent & goodness that is james (& his awesome partner in life, @jenniferlholland). thanks for making us a part of your family, buddy.
Gunn’s firing has been a complex, controversial issue on social media (I mean, what isn’t a controversial issue on social media?), where many (myself included) have pointed out Disney’s hypocrisy in dismissing Gunn and the studio’s flawed logic. First and foremost, Disney capitulated to the alt-right (the contemporary iteration of nazis), led by a social media personality and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who is an alleged rapist and has drawn outrage for his own controversial “jokes” on Twitter, like this gem, tweeted in 2012: “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist.”
It’s also incredibly unlikely that Disney was not already aware of Gunn’s sense of humor all those years ago. The tweets were always public, and Gunn was never shy; he got his start writing and directing films for crass B-movie house Troma (studio owner Lloyd Kaufman even has a cameo in Guardians, which was approved by Disney and Marvel). Gunn’s boundary-pushing genre movies like Slither and Super (in which Ellen Page’s character rapes Rainn Wilson’s character) were a huge selling point for landing the Guardians gig in the first place; Marvel needed someone who could take risks and do something wildly different.
There is, of course, also the fact that Disney fired Gunn over old tweets that he’d apologized for long before he even directed the first Guardians — but Johnny Depp, who physically abused ex-wife Amber Heard (the results of which have been well-documented), and John Lasseter, who sexually harassed and groped numerous female employees at Pixar, were not fired. By Disney’s twisted logic, it’s OK to physically hurt women, but old tweets featuring very bad jokes about rape are completely unforgivable. As some have speculated, it may be that Gunn was fired because some of those jokes referenced children or suggested sexual acts with children.
While the alt-right and some conservatives have absurdly taken these ill-conceived jokes at face value, it seems that the mere existence of such perverted comments referencing children — though now-deleted — was too much for Disney — a studio that prides itself on family entertainment. Again: Abstract, crass humor about children is wrong; literally hurting women is totally fine.
It would be one thing if Gunn’s firing was rooted in anything substantially sinister (it wasn’t), or even if it were part of some across-the-board zero tolerance policy in the wake of #MeToo (it’s not; such a thing does not and will never exist). Instead, Disney caved to a conservative group defined by its racism, hatred, and dissemination of blatant untruths — a group that seized on a cultural moment, in which our collective sensitivities (both political and social) have been heightened, and weaponized our own morality against us. And they won.