More than a week after Disney fired director James Gunn from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, the entire cast of the film series has come out with a show of support for their collaborator. An Instagram post shared by Chris Pratt, who plays lead hero Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, as well as several other cast members, includes a message signed by the entire team that defends Gunn as a “good person” judged by a politically polarized society.
Mike Cernovich, a notorious far-right social media personality and conspiracy theorist with a tendency to call upon his followers to mobilize against his critics, dug up several of Gunn’s past tweets after the director tweeted about his own liberal politics. These included comments about rape and pedophilia, which Cernovich pointed to as evidence of Gunn’s supposed hypocrisy and un-Disney-like past.
Gunn quickly apologized for his comments, which he said represented a much younger, immature side of himself that he has since moved far away from. It’s since prompted a larger conversation about what constitutes “comedy” online that members of the media can rightfully be judged for — or what should be considered an irrelevant, if disappointing, part of their past.
Despite support from Gunn’s sides, including Pratt, co-star Zoe Saldana and other members of the Disney, Marvel and Hollywood families, Disney and Marvel announced that it had let go of Gunn in response to the conservative social-media backlash. That’s only prompted more conversation, and the Instagram post is the biggest show of support from anyone involved with The Walt Disney Company.
The entire text of the “Open Letter from the Cast of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’” is included below. Within, the team defends Gunn’s character and calls out what they call “the growing political divide in this country,” where anonymous Twitter and forum users can weaponize dissenters’ own words against them — solely for daring to publicly disagree with an ideology they don’t believe in.
Whether or not this vote of confidence from Guardian of the Galaxy’s stars will encourage Disney and Marvel to reinstate Gunn for Volume 3 seems unlikely. But it’s both surprising and admirable that some of Hollywood’s biggest names would come out against their parent company in defense of a valuable teammate.
To our fans and friends:
We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.
Being in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. 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 all know, trust, and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.
Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over — not by a long shot.
There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial. Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.
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; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other. Thank you for taking the time to read our words.
The Guardians of the Galaxy,
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker