Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Director James Gunn Fired Over Old Tweets

"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative."

Disney has fired the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn, after decade-old tweets in which he joked about paedophilia and rape resurfaced online on July 20.

In one of the offending tweets -- which date from between 2008 to 2011 -- Gunn wrote, “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!'”

Disney made the decision to drop Gunn from the film shortly after his tweets began to be re-circulated by US  conservative groups including website The Daily Caller and alt-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

Disney studio chairman Alan Horn said in a statement on Friday, “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.”

Hours after Disney's decision Gunn -- who directed both the 2014 original Guardians of the Galaxy and the 2017 follow up -- took to Twitter to say that he is "very, very different than I was a few years ago" and that he has since "apologised for humour of mine that hurt people."

Image: Twitter/@JamesGunn.

He later issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that he "regretted" the tweets in question and stressed that "they don't reflect the person I am today."

"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative," his statement read.

"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."

"Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then.

"All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all."

Gunn's axing has provoked strong reactions from people, including comedian Patton Oswalt, who described the efforts to get him fired as "a Gamergate-style smear campaign".

Disney has yet to announce Gunn's replacement as director of the third installment to the hugely successful Guardians franchise. Filming was expected to begin in Atlanta later this year, with an expected 2020 release date.

Feature image: Getty.