It would seem that the Guardians of the Galaxy have James Gunn's back.
Gunn, who was ousted from the third installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise over tweets he made a decade ago which apparently had pedophilia and rape as the subject, was fired a couple of weeks ago. At the time, Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn called the tweets "indefensible" and "inconsistent" with Disney's values, and Gunn, who directed the first two installments of the Guardians of the Galaxy, said he understood the business decision that Disney had made in firing him.
Now, actor Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in the beloved franchise, has released a joint letter signed by the lead cast of #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy. The letter calls for Gunn's reinstatement as director and notes that while none of the actors support what Gunn said years ago, re-hiring Gunn as director of the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie would be in line with the film series' overall theme of redemption.
"The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we know, trust and love," the letter states.
To be sure, Gunn's troubles have served as something of a lesson for those who perhaps do not take the longlasting nature of social media seriously. While Gunn's tweets date back to 2009, conservative website The Daily Caller exhorted its followers to question Gunn about these rediscovered tweets at San Diego Comic-Con, which ultimately led to Gunn's firing from Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Pratt's post of the letter has, as of July 31, received some 1,383,877 likes on Instagram. It has also generated something of a maelstrom of comments both in support of and denigrating the cast's decision to support Gunn. With comments that suggest Gunn should not be supported because neither pedophilia nor rape is a laughing matter and other comments that suggest this current situation with the beleaguered director is perhaps overblown because the comments are a decade old and he has apologized, it would appear that there could be quite a bit of controversy should Gunn be re-hired.
That said, there's also a Change.org petition signed by nearly 360,000 people asking Marvel to re-hire Gunn. There are also similar petitions asking Kevin Feige and Disney, in general, to bring Gunn back for the third installment of the franchise. There is also a petition asking Disney to not re-hire Gunn, which has been signed by just shy of 2,500 people.
As one might expect, Disney has not commented about either the open letter from the Guardians of the Galaxy cast and there have been no comments regarding the different petitions circulating either supporting Gunn's reinstatement or Gunn staying out of the director's chair altogether.
The open letter has also been tweeted by #ZoeSaldana, #PomKlementieff, #KarenGillan, and #DaveBautista, among others, some with the hashtag #WeAreGroot. All have indicated through the letter and some through their own social media feeds that while they don't support what Gunn said a decade ago, they do support their friend and director.
The letter also comments about the need for everyone to think about what they put out on social media.
"It is our hope that what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone," the letter reads.
To be sure, regardless of the outcome of the letter from the cast or the multiple petitions, some will hopefully learn from what has happened with James Gunn.