James Gunn has been quietly reinstated by Disney as writer and director of “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3,” The Times confirmed Friday.
The decision, which was made a few months ago, is an about-face from Disney’s decision last July to fire Gunn over years-old social media messages that made light of topics including rape, pedophilia, 9/11 and the Holocaust.
Gunn tweeted his gratitude shortly after the news was first reported by Deadline.
“I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all,” Gunn wrote on Twitter early Friday afternoon. “I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support.”
Gunn took responsibility for the now-deleted offensive tweets and explained them in a statement at the time.
“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, in part, back then. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor…. I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore.”
Gunn’s offensive tweets were unearthed by people on the right after the “Guardians” director came to the defense of filmmaker Mark Duplass, who himself had been attacked by people on the left for making positive comments about conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
Despite an outpouring of public support for Gunn, including “Guardians” actor Dave Bautista, Disney couldn’t stomach the situation.
“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.
After he was fired, Gunn wrote, “I understand and accept the business decisions …. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be.”
Horn reportedly met with Gunn several times in the aftermath of the firing and was persuaded by how the director handled the situation, according to Deadline.
As the news spread, fans began rejoicing on Twitter and praising Disney’s decision to rehire Gunn, who helmed the first two “Guardians” films.