James Gunn will no longer direct the third installment in the popular Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after years old insensitive tweets were resurfaced.
Walt Disney Studios announced on Friday that they had split ways from the director following the news of the tweets. Gunn was set to start filming the third installment starring Chris Pratt in the fall and had been working on the script. He wrote and directed the first two movies, which have made more than $1.6 billion worldwide.
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Disney chairman Alan Horn said in the statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Conservative personality Jack Posobiec was one of the people who first surfaced the tweets, which included jokes about pedophilia about rape.
Gunn addressed the controversy earlier on Friday, explaining that he has since grown as a person and in his work since posting the original tweets. The director said that it used to be part of his act to tweet things that would outrage people.
“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he said in the first of five tweets. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”
He continued, “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was set to release in 2020.