Marvel stars want James Gunn rehired despite offensive tweets; Disney sources say not likely

James Gunn attends the premiere of Disney And Marvel's "Ant-Man And The Wasp" on June 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
James Gunn attends the premiere of Disney And Marvel's "Ant-Man And The Wasp" on June 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Credit: Christopher Polk

Credit: Christopher Polk

Director James Gunn joked about AIDS patients, rape and child rape in a slew of vintage tweets thatgot him booted from the next "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.

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The stars want Marvel to hire him back.

“Although I don’t support James Gunn’s inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man. I’d personally love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3,” actor Chris Pratt posted with an open letter he signed along with cast members Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Sean Gunn (James Gunn’s brother).

"We fully support James Gunn," it begins. "We were all shocked at his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these 10 days in order to think pray, listen and discuss."

The letter goes on to say no one defends “his jokes of many years ago” but otherwise makes no mention of the tweets that got Gunn fired.

But Walt Disney Studios is not planning to rehire Gunn, Variety reported, citing unnamed sources.

Gunn’s among the list of celebrities facing self-inflicted professional wounds from ill-considered tweets.

Explore>> Related: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn fired over offensive tweets

ABC canceled "Roseanne" after Roseanne Barr's tweet comparing Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett to an offspring of "Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes." She later said she was referring to anti-Semitism, but the backpedaling didn't save her job.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb apologized after racist, sexist and anti-gay tweets he posted as a teenager surfaced on Sunday.

“It was a long time ago – six, seven years ago – saying some stupid stuff with friends,” he said after the game. I know I’ve grown a lot since then. I didn’t mean anything by it. It was just something stupid that I did a long time ago.”

After Monday’s game, Newcomb said he had spoken to his teammates about the situation and felt it was important to apologize immediately after the old tweets became news.

“I just really want to apologize,” he said. “I know it was hurtful. That’s not a testament to who I am. I just remain very, very remorseful.”

Team and Major League Baseball officials condemned the post and say Newcomb will complete diversity training. Newcomb has deleted his Twitter account.

>> Related: Sean Newcomb case serves as a teaching moment 

Danica Kombol, a social media strategist and CEO of the Atlanta-based Everywhere Agency, warned that social media fingerprints last forever.

“What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter,” she said. “Don’t put anything on social media that you wouldn’t put on the front page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

She doesn’t hold a lot of sympathy for the youthful-indiscretions defense.

"Poor Sean, he was a teenager? I don't think that's a valid excuse," she said. "It's really incumbent upon brands to do their due diligence before they hire people and really do a complete exploration of their complete digital footprint. It couldn't have been that hard for the Braves to have found this."

Andy Beal, CEO of Reputation Refinery and author of "Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation," said the key to recovering from damaging social-media revelations "is to show humility, demonstrate sincerity, and apologize quickly whenever you make a mistake."

He doesn’t think the age of a social media post, or the age of its author at the time it was penned, serves to mitigate career-wounding chatter.

Explore>> Related: Chris Pratt, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' co-stars sign open letter to rehire director James Gunn

“While the statute of limitations may protect someone from criminal prosecution, such protection does not apply to the court of public opinion,” he said. “Your online reputation is always the sum of all of your actions, past and present. In addition, it is the sum of the sincerity of your apology, past and present.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” was among the Marvel projects to be headquartered at Pinewood Studios in Fayette County, and work on the next in the series had begun.

Author and commentator Eric Schiffer, CEO of, doubts Gunn will be returning for the third installment.

"Gunn's comments are so inconsistent with Disney it would be like killing Mickey Mouse to bring him back and try to mix his brand to what Disney stands for," Schiffer said. "They're disgusting and they make you question his rationality. There should be limits on how people speak about children."

Marvel Entertainment is a Disney subsidiary.

Gunn, who turns 52 on Sunday has apologized for the vile tweets, saying he has grown as a person in the years since they were posted. Few of the offending messages can be printed or posted in a family newspaper and its online site - and they’ve been scrubbed from Gunn’s Twitter account.

But Internet sleuths have posted screen grabs that will live on forever.

>> Related: James Gunn got testy with a fan at Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre

“Just made a joke about (expletive) raping my friend when she was asleep,” he tweeted in August 2008. In April 2011 he tweeted, “I want to go big game hunting but know it’s morally questionable. so I’m going to split the difference and go big game raping.”

Several other posts describe various sex acts involving children, some using lewd terms.

“Three Men and a Baby They Had Sex With,” Gunn tweeted in June 2012, with the hashtag #unromantic movies. In December 2012 he posted, “Eagle Snatches Kid” is what I call it when I get lucky.”

Metro Atlanta app developer Sal Principato spends much of his professional life online and warns young practitioners to post with the future in mind.

“There isn't anything you can do to be 100 percent safe from any future repercussions based on what you post or tweet,” he said. “Any machine that touched the data you transmitted could be cached and recovered at anytime, given enough resources.”

Disney wasted little time in severing ties with Gunn after the posts surfaced.

"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 at the time.

>> Related: James Gunn’s dog ate pot-infused coffee beans during filming in Atlanta and nearly died

But Gunn has attracted other high-profile support in addition to the “Galaxy” cast; actress Selma Blair left Twitter in a show of solidarity.

Meanwhile, Barr took to Twitter to weigh in.

"I'm disgusted to read all of the support for James Gunn's pedophile jokes," she posted. "The same people supported blacklisting me for a joke they didn't even understand."