“Have They Never Seen ‘Super’?”
Atul and Justin were ready to record what was supposed to be Episode 23 on Friday. They tried to look for SDCC news and were immediately greeted by the grim news that Writer/Director James Gunn was fired. Gunn was slated to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Before his films with Marvel/Disney, Gunn was involved with a variety of film genres. Most notable, and recent, before his Marvel works, was a film called Super. Super was released on 2010 and was a dark comedy starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Super features scenes of gratuitous violence, rape, and somehow attempts to inject comedy into the mix. Does it work? Sometimes. But this was his film, and he made it what it was. On his terms.
Then in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was released, and James Gunn became another cog in the Marvel machine. However, it was actually the House-of-Mouse machine at that point. Disney bought Marvel studios in August of 2009, and green lit the obscure Guardians film with an interesting directorial choice in Gunn, considering his previous works.
“The Internet Never Forgets”
Atul makes an excellent point in that information on the internet can be on there forever. In this case, Disney released Gunn as a result of tweets written almost ten years ago according to their press release. In 2012, he had made a public apology for tweets similar to those that are being sited today as the tweets that broke the relationship. Read without context, the tweets can be pretty rough. However, the source of the tweets being Gunn who has a particular sense of humor that not everyone may share should come as no surprise.
Between 2006 and 2010 Gunn was a very different type of writer/director catering to different audiences, and was not at the forefront as he was with Disney/Marvel. He was working on projects such as Slither, James Gunn’s PG Porn, Super and a few web shorts. Hardly material that intersects with Disney’s typical demographic. However, given his past work and social media presence Disney STILL hired the man to make a movie about a relatively unknown band of heroes. Guardians of the Galaxy turned out to be one of their strongest franchises to date.
Unearthing historical tweets that “are indefensible and inconsistent with [Disney]’s values” and firing him seems off. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye to this story. Only time will tell. However, given what we know at this time, this seems like an unfair knee jerk reaction by Disney. Clearly, their HR team needs to do more homework in the future when they hire new directors.
So The Tweets Are OK?
Yes. No. Maybe?
Do you think they’re OK? That’s the real question.
The thing about comedy is it’s in the audience’s perception. If you’re telling jokes about Christianity in a church to a group of nuns, you are probably going to run into a tough room. As Atul says in the podcast “you need to know your audience.” Dark comedy is a tough sell on twitter without context of who the audience is, or how the joke should be told. We understand how a joke can get you into trouble.
However, what is to be gained by digging up old tweets that were comedic in nature and painting an evil picture? Is he actually that evil? Has he demonstrated those qualities lately? I think the reason many are having an issue dealing with this is that no answers to those questions have been provided. Disney may not owe the public more information than what they’ve provided, but it sure would help most accept it.