SAN DIEGO • Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise director James Gunn has been axed from the third movie over a series of offensive messages posted on Twitter several years ago.
Mr Gunn wrote and directed the Marvel superhero film in 2014 and delivered a smash sequel last year.
The tweets, mainly from 2008 and 2011, joked about taboo topics such as rape and paedophilia.
Disney, which owns the franchise as the parent company of Marvel Studios, confirmed last Friday that it was parting ways with one of its biggest stars.
"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," Mr Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.
Mr Gunn has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and had drawn the ire of conservative critics, who went back through his timeline and dug up the tweets. Mr Jack Posobiec of The Daily Caller news website and right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich were among those who unearthed the messages.
"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," Mr Gunn wrote on Twitter after the tweets resurfaced last Thursday. "As I have discussed publicly many times, as I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humour."
Mr Gunn, who has deleted his account, described himself as a "very, very different" person from when he wrote the tweets. "My days saying something just because it's shocking and trying to get a reaction are over," he added.
He had planned to head to San Diego's annual Comic-Con fan convention with a secret film project that he had teased on Instagram.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 is due out in 2020.
His firing was the second such dismissal in two days in Hollywood, which has been trying to demonstrate zero tolerance for offensive behaviour in response to the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.
Paramount Pictures last Thursday fired Ms Amy Powell, president of Paramount Television, over insensitive racial remarks made while on a conference call to discuss a coming series that will have a predominantly black cast, people briefed on the matter said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES