It appears that Disney has forgiven director James Gunn for his having previously joked about little boys touching him in his "silly place" and has hired him back to direct the third installment of "Guardians of the Galaxy," reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Last year, Disney fired Gunn from the hit Marvel franchise when some conservatives unveiled several old tweets in which he made many sexually offensive references. "I like when little boys touch me in my silly place" was just one of many shocking examples. At the time, Gunn said his jokes were from a different era of his life — as a shock jock and provocateur.
"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative," he said in a statement. "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."
The "Guardians" cast concurred with James' apology in an open letter addressed to fans. "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," read the letter. "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."
Despite outspoken support for Gunn from fans and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" cast, Disney ultimately reaffirmed its decision to fire Gunn. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has now reversed the decision they previously affirmed reportedly because the studio had trouble finding a replacement director to the point of the project being put on hold.
"Marvel Studios put 'Guardians 3' on hold, though Marvel head Kevin Feige and others involved have maintained they intended to make the film happen," reports The Hollywood Reporter. "In the weeks after firing Gunn, Disney began putting feelers out for new directors. But by mid-fall, the search seemed to have petered out, with many thinking that the project was on the back burner. What almost no one knew was that Marvel/Disney had gone back to Gunn and made a deal ... in secret, according to insiders."
Gunn's career continued virtually unopposed after the firing, and he moved over to Warner Bros. to write and direct DC's "The Suicide Squad," which stars Idris Elba. He will be directing both "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" and "The Suicide Squad."
Many of Gunn's defenders said that he fell victim to the outrage mob, only this time from the Right. Ironically, Gunn himself had previously been a part of that very same outrage mob when he called for the head of Roseanne Barr following her racist tweets against Valierie Jarrett (for which she was fired from ABC), as well as the head of Laura Ingraham following her having referred to Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg as "whiny."
"I wish some of these so-called defenders of liberty would start to understand what freedom of speech is AND isn’t. Roseanne is allowed to say whatever she wants," Gunn said in his now-deleted tweet. "It doesn’t mean @ABCNetwork needs to continue funding her TV show if her words are considered abhorrent."