Disney has reinstated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn, eight months after he was fired for old, offensive tweets, according to multiple published reports.
The studio parted ways with Gunn in July 2018, amid a Hollywood storm after a conservative outlet published crude tweets — from the frequent Trump critic — in which he joked about rape and pedophilia.
Gunn apologized at the time, admitting his old tweets were “stupid.” Despite calls from franchise fans and an open letter from the film’s cast to reinstate him, Disney decided to distance itself from the director.
Fast forward to 2019, and the filmmaker is back at the helm of Guardians 3 and will write and direct the Disney-Marvel sequel. In a statement Friday on Twitter –- his first tweet since last July –- Gunn expressed his gratitude.
“I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months. I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be,” he tweeted.
“I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all,” he added. “I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Love to you all.”
According to Deadline, which first reported the news of Gunn’s rehiring, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn met with the director several times and decided to bring him back because of the way he handled the situation as well as his public apology.
Gunn posted the tweets between 2008 and 2009, before he was hired to work on the films. He wrote and directed the first two movies in the franchise, which were released in 2014 and 2017, and had previously been announced as the director of Guardians 3.
Among the tweets that forced the provocative director out were: “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.”
Unlike Kevin Hart, who initially refused to apologize and posted a series of defiant videos, when social media users unearthed his old homophobic tweets and jokes in December, Gunn immediately apologized. Meanwhile, Hart threw his hands up and stepped away from hosting the Oscars, which he had earlier described as a dream come true.
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” Gunn said when the controversy erupted.
The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has made over $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office — making it a cash cow for Disney. The franchise stars include Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista.
Since the events of last summer, Gunn was hired to write and direct the sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. and DC Comics, which is set to star Idris Elba.
Gunn will reportedly work on both films, with The Suicide Squad scheduled to arrive in theaters on Aug. 6, 2021.