Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe attending BYU-Hawaii voice their opinions regarding The Walt Disney Company’s decision to fire Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn after ten year-old tweets joking about rape and pedophilia came to light.
Focusing on Gunn’s influence on the ‘Guardians’ franchise, Joshua Mason, an alumnus from Hawaii said, “It’s a really sad situation. The Marvel fans love James Gunn. He managed to make a blockbuster out of a movie with a talking raccoon and a space tree. He made the ‘Guardians’ into a household name.”
Reflecting on Disney’s reputation of being “family friendly,” Benjamin Coffey a senior from New Zealand majoring in psychology, said, “Disney was put in a really tough spot, and I don’t know if there was a correct choice for them. On the one hand they are a brand that is marketed to children and they can't afford to be associated with anything to do with pedophilia.”
Coffey mentioned the tweets were ten years old and Gunn had gone on record to apologize for them. Regarding the tweets, Coffey said, “I think his termination is a symptom of a society that is becoming increasingly sensitive to jokes about taboo topics and had he not been fired, public outcry would have seriously damaged Disney.”
Sam Tobon, a senior from Colombia majoring in peacebuilding, said, “It was the right choice to fire him, to be honest. Disney is known for their wholesome and family friendly entertainment. Their employees should be held to the same standard. Those types of things should never even be humored about. It’s offensive and disgusting to joke around rape or pedophilia. The tweets aren’t even funny, they’re straight crude.”
The Walt Disney Company planned to merge with 21st Century Fox, and Coffey speculated the decision to fire Gunn was partly based on the merge. Coffey said, “The Fox purchase was extremely expensive and perhaps left Disney in a spot where they didn't want to take any chances.”
In regards to Disney severing ties with Gunn, Chaz Mckinney, senior from Utah majoring in accounting said, “Disney has an image of being family friendly and they want to distance themselves from a guy like that.”
Fans of the Guardian’s franchise are expecting Volume 3 to be released in 2020, but with Gunn gone, this leaves the director’s chair empty. With this in mind, Mason said, “I don't think Disney will hire him back though. There was this report detailing Disney's rules that Marvel films must follow. Gunn violated their ‘maintain a family image’ rule.”
A fan and supporter of Gunn’s return to the director’s chair, Coffey said, “There has been a lot of support for him from the Guardians’ cast members [and] petitions from fans. Personally I would love to see him rehired, but the support would have to be absolutely overwhelming to the point where it was no longer a risk for Disney being branded a supporter of pedophiles.”
Seeking for change with the new film, Tobon said, “I don’t think he will be rehired, simply because Disney does not want to be associated with him anymore. Besides the Marvel cinematic universe is already planning on stage four and that demands change. Having a new director will keep things fresh in that sense.”
Fans of Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” have played with the idea of having director Taika Waititi replace Gunn for the next Guardians film. A fan of Waititi, Coffey said,“The current top pick is Taika Waititi and I'm also a huge fan of his. Waititi already has an amazing gift for comedy that would fit right into the tone that Gunn has already developed for the Guardians.”
Expressing concern about Waititi, Mason said, “I don't think it would work. One of the main problems with "Ragnarok" is it's too cheeky with the humor to the point there isn't any time to emotionally process things. Like Thor's dad, Odin, died, but there's no real emotional connection made because the movie was too focused on being funny.”
Comparing Guardians Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok, Mason said “Gunn’s ‘Guardians’ managed to be both emotional and funny. When the character Yondu died, people cried. You feel the emotional connection between the characters. You have all kinds of emotions surrounding the character Peter Quill and his relationships with both of his parents. Waititi couldn't deliver anything emotional in "Ragnarok."
Showing his support for having Waititi direct, Mckinney said, “That would be cool, because “Thor: Ragnarok” was basically a Guardians movie. “Ragnarok” is my favorite Marvel movie, because Waititi moved the movie in a funnier and eccentric way. He has his own quirky style.”