By Max Godnick
The Guardians of the Galaxy are taking on their toughest battle yet: convincing Disney to rehire the director James Gunn.
Cast members of the hit Marvel franchise, including its stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Bradley Cooper, published an open letter Monday on Twitter, urging the studio to reverse its decision to fire Gunn after his old joke tweets about pedophilia and rape resurfaced earlier this month.
The cast was "discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding [\Gunn.]"
It's unclear whether Disney will answer the stars' plea.
"It would set a really uncomfortable precedent," said Sean O'Connell, the managing editor of Cinemablend. "They reacted to the outrage over Gunn's initial tweets, now they're reacting to the outrage to the reaction."
The decision to fire Gunn marks a rare public-relations headache in an otherwise watershed year for Disney's Marvel Studios. "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Black Panther" were two of the company's most successful titles ever, and are among the 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Previous staffing shakeups at Marvel, like the decision to replace the directors of "Ant-Man" in 2015 and "Thor: Ragnarok" in 2017, were based solely on creative differences.
"Marvel Studios has been rolling along with very few waves," O'Connell said Tuesday in an interview with Cheddar.
Now, the pressure is on, as Disney and Marvel search for the Gunn's replacement for the third installment of the "Guardians" franchise, which is scheduled to begin production in early 2019.
Given the very public backlash to Gunn's firing and the support for his reinstatement (an [online petition] (https://www.change.org/p/marvel-re-hire-james-gunn) with over 355,000 signatures), O'Connell said he's doubtful the studio will find someone willing to take the position.
"I don't know any director who would want to now step into that," he said.
For full interview, click here.