In a shocking turn of events, Warner Bros. and DC have hired James Gunn to write, and possibly direct, Suicide Squad 2, not finding the same problems with the former Guardians of the Galaxy Galaxy director’s past behavior as Disney. Gunn was previously fired from his role at Marvel Studios after a number of old inappropriate tweets resurfaced, including jokes about rape and pedophilia. While Gunn apologized for his past behavior and showed no signs of similar activities recently, Disney still wasn’t willing to rehiring him, but Warner Bros. seems far more comfortable bringing him into the DC universe.
The news isn’t just surprising because it’s a high profile jump from Marvel to DC. After he was fired from Marvel, the focus of most people was on his potential return to the MCU for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 or another cosmic film. Meanwhile, Gavin O’Conner’s version of Suicide Squad 2 was seemingly moving along, there was no hint that it needed a new writer or director, and the script had recently received praise, so to see Gunn picked up by DC for that particular movie was understandably unexpected.
There’s a lot to be said about how Gunn’s style will fit with DC vs. Marvel, but there’s a strong case to be made that he’s a better natural fit for adapting Suicide Squad comics than he ever was for Guardians of the Galaxy comics. Nevertheless, the fact that Warner Bros. was willing to hire him despite his recent firing from Disney says a lot about the way the competing studios view and manage their respective brands.
- This Page: Why James Gunn Was Fired in the First Place
- Page 2: Why Warner Bros. Doesn’t Have the Same Hangups as Disney
Why Disney Fired James Gunn In the First Place
While it’s easy to paint Gunn’s situation as black and white, that he was fired for making jokes about pedophilia, the reality is a little more nuanced than that. Before Gunn was hired by Disney to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, he liked to consider himself a provocateur, known more for his edgier work with Troma entertainment or his hard R movies, Slither and Super. The culture has changed a lot in the last decade, and the environment in which the tweets resurfaced is significantly different than the environment in which they were originally made.
This by no means makes these jokes any less inappropriate, but it’s important to note that Gunn himself has had a very public evolution since them, apologizing for his past behavior long before he was actually called out on it, expressing regret at his misguided commitment to edgy provocation in the past. It was a mistake for him to leave the tweets up and an oversight by Disney to not audit his Twitter history before hiring him, but there were also no signs that such an effort was even necessary. The most recent of the tweets in question were posted several years before he was even hired by Disney.
What finally got the tweets noticed was not any foul play by Gunn, but a political spat on Twitter that led to a coordinated effort to smear Gunn’s name. Since he had never thought to delete the offensive tweets, they were easy enough to find with simple Twitter searches for his username and keywords like “rape,” giving his opponents the fuel they needed to stir up controversy. Since Gunn had established a new, less offensive, public identity since gaining notoriety, the contrast against his current character and lack of context from his older work made them all the more shocking. The fact that he worked for Disney, who basically holds a monopoly on family-friendly entertainment, made it all the worse.
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