News & Politics

Will a Billboard Near Disneyland Convince Marvel to Rehire James Gunn?

(Image via GoFundMe)

I’m a big fan of the Marvel movies, and the 13-year-old nerd* in my soul still can’t believe that they’ve made even one good big-screen superhero flick, let alone a baker’s dozen. If you’ve seen any of the attempts at bringing those characters to life in the 20th century, you know what I mean. Howard the Duck, The Punisher, Captain America… ugh. Things got better with Blade and X-Men and Spider-Man, but it was still scattershot. And the less said about Daredevil and Elektra and Ghost Rider, the better. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a dream come true for geeks like me, and they deserve every penny of the eleventy hundred gazillion dollars they’ve made.

But the biggest surprises have been the films about characters I never cared about in the comics. Ant-Man is probably my favorite of them all, just because it knows how dumb the premise is and has fun with it. And a close second place is Guardians of the Galaxy. Somehow, writer/director James Gunn took a bunch of third-stringers and novelty characters, gave them actual personalities, and turned them into the beating heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Finally, I can go around saying, “I am Groot,” and people know what I’m talking about.

So I was ambivalent when Marvel fired Gunn over a bunch of bad tweets he wrote 10 years ago, back when he was an edgy guy who made low-budget Troma movies. He made a bunch of sick jokes about pedophilia and whatnot, which Marvel knew about when they hired him. But things are different in 2018, because it’s 2018, and 2018 stinks. I don’t like outrage mobs, so I don’t like that he was fired for that reason.

Then again, he sure wasn’t too sympathetic when Roseanne Barr got fired for a bad tweet:

That was exactly, precisely what ended up happening to him. Some of his fans insist that what he did was somehow different than what Roseanne did, but the only real difference is that those people agree with him politically. He’s anti-Trump, and she’s pro-Trump, and that’s all it takes in a culture that’s becoming more and more polarized with each and every tweet, 24 hours a day.

Some nerds can’t accept that, though, and apparently their income is even more disposable than yours and mine. Ross A. Lincoln, The Wrap:

On Monday, a billboard calling for James Gunn to be rehired as director of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” went up just four miles away from Disneyland. The ad was paid for by a fan-created crowdfunding campaign that has raised just under $5,000 since September.

They’ve even got a website, RehireJamesGunn.com, which explains the thinking here:

[O]ur Guardians Family announces our new project: to place billboards outside of Disneyland and Disneyworld in order to draw even more attention to our cause. Perhaps we won’t Save The Galaxy, but we hope that we can at least help Disney find the courage to do the right thing and #RehireJamesGunn…

James Gunn’s firing arguably represented a dangerous new era in the weaponization of celebrities’ social media histories. As such, this attack drew a hefty amount of news coverage and think pieces. The success of the attack on Gunn has already lead (sic) to similar attacks against other comedians with histories of shock humor, including Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, and Dan Harmon, the co-creator of Rick & Morty.

Yeah, those poor, poor comedians. I can’t help but notice Roseanne didn’t make the list, though. Guess she doesn’t count, for the aforementioned reasons.

Well, who knows if this will work? If multibillion-dollar corporations are going to fire people over their tweets, why wouldn’t they be swayed by billboards? If there were ever any rules about this kind of crap, clearly they’ve gone out the window. So go ahead, sign your petitions and send your donations. It’s your time and your money and your delusions about the world.

As for Roseanne, she was probably hoping for bad ratings for ABC’s The Conners, AKA We Gave Roseanne an Opioid Overdose Because She Sent a Bad Tweet. But the ratings are solid so far. It’s not time yet for ABC to panic and rehire her, just like they panicked and fired her.

*I am now a much, much older nerd.