By now Marvel fans are all too aware of how Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn's social media past came back to haunt him. Last year, Gunn was dropped from directing Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 after certain sectors of Twitter users dug up a bunch of old tweets in which Gunn made dark jokes about some very taboo subjects. However, according to a new report, the James Gunn incident hasn't done much to actually sway Disney when it comes to how the studio will screen employees' social media accounts.
Aside from Marvel Cinematic Universe fans being extremely upset at losing one of their favorite Marvel movie visionaries, Gunn's firing was a pivotal example about the dilemma of how social media profiles are weighed in professional considerations and appointments. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Disney Film Chief Alan Horn, and directly addressed the topic of Gunn's firing from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 (though his script is reportedly still being used), and the circumstances surrounding the decision. Here's what Horn had to say, when asked if the studio was changing its social media background check process going forward:
"I would say no. I don't think we do extensive background checks to see what a person has said. I feel sad for some of the people ensnared in all of this. And sometimes I feel like, 'Wow, what they said is so outrageous that it must have occurred to them that it would have repercussions.' It's a very open world now, and this stuff is a matter of record. The admonition is: Be careful."
Disney's decision to fire James Gunn remains one of the most heavily debated decisions in the modern landscape of media/entertainment. Gunn's past tweets went to some very Disney-unfriendly places like pedophilia jokes, but they didn't actually harm anyone or cost the studio anything in terms of box-office backlash. Moreover, the tweets were from nearly a decade ago, and had been the subject of controversy before; the idea that Disney wasn't aware of them when James Gunn was working on the first Guardians movie (and then the sequel) always seemed unlikely. Now it's even more apparent that the social media outcry and possible backlash against the Marvel/Guardians brands are the real reasons Gunn got sacked.
In that sense, nothing in what Alan Horn says above sells the logic of Disney's decision -- if anything, he talks his way right around the matter. His phrasing makes it seem as though Disney isn't taking any more of a proactive approach to establish clear social media policies than they ever have. In fact, Horn's words actually carry a veiled threat that anyone who becomes a problem for the studio over statements on social media will be cut from the roster.
Avengers: Infinity War is now available on home video. Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Captain Marvel on March 8th, Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.