Shocking news for Marvel fans this afternoon, as Marvel and Disney have reportedly cut ties with James Gunn after numerous old (and now-deleted) tweets from the filmmaker resurfaced late last night. The tweets, which contained jokes about controversial and sensitive topics such as rape and pedophilia, were dug up and posted by alt-right social media personality and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich.

UPDATE: James Gunn has issued an official statement in response to his firing from Disney and Marvel. You can read the statement, which echoes the sentiments from his earlier apology, in full below:

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.

Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.

Although the tweets were deleted, the damage was seemingly done: Deadline reports that Disney has booted Gunn from the Guardians franchise. The filmmaker, who wrote and directed the first two films in the series and was set to return for Vol. 3, posted an apology on Twitter earlier today, explaining that, in his younger days, he was fond of using provocative humor — not unlike members of the alt-right, many of whom enjoy provoking reactions from their adversaries left by using their platforms to spout outrageous, often racist ideologies and promote absurd conspiracy theories:

Via The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, Disney released an official statement on Gunn’s firing:

The offensive tweets in question resurfaced last night, as Gunn has drawn the outrage of conservatives and members of the alt-right on social media — like Cernovich, a noted alt-right (read: Nazi) personality, who dug up several of Gunn’s old tweets. Some of them contained offensive jokes pertaining to rape and children, which — as Gunn noted — he has apologized for in the past:

While a few of Gunn’s jokes could be mostly considered crass, some were a little too offensive — particularly coming from a filmmaker who has consistently criticized Donald Trump and the alt-right. Trump, who has been filmed publicly mocking the disabled, bragging about forcibly grabbing a woman by the genitals, espousing hateful and bigoted ideologies, and insulting the family of a fallen Muslim soldier — to name but a few of his documented deeds — has been a frequent target of Gunn’s on social media.

Gunn’s tweets are clearly the work of juvenile ignorance, at best — though that hardly excuses him, especially in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp era, which has led men and women alike to reflect upon and reckon with the offenses of the past. Gunn’s attitudes and personality have visibly changed in the years since many of these tweets were first made, but the internet, like a crappy tattoo, is forever. (Which leads me to believe that someone at Disney had to have known about Gunn’s sense of humor; much of his older work has the same crass irreverence.)

As of now, the fate of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 remains unclear. It seems unlikely that Marvel will use the screenplay Gunn was already developing for the sequel, leaving the studio to start over from scratch. It’s also unclear what impact this scandal will have on Guardians and its place in the Marvel canon.

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