Director James Gunn appears to be bearing the brunt of the blame from DC Comics fans seething over the departure of “Superman” star Henry Cavill.
Cavill announced last week that he would not return as the blue caped superhero in Warner Bros. Discovery’s DC Comics-based Universe, saying he “respects” what Gunn and producer Peter Safran are trying to build. Gunn had said in a statement that the next “Superman” movie will focus on the hero’s “earlier years.”
“It’s sad news everyone,” Cavill wrote. “I will, after all, not be returning as Superman. After being told by the studio to announce my return in October, prior to their hire, this news isn’t the easiest, but that’s life. The changing of the guard is something that happens. I respect that. James and Peter have a universe to build. I wish them and all involved with the new universe the best of luck, and the happiest of fortunes.”
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DC Comics fans made their feelings known on Twitter through the hashtag #FireJamesGunn and #BoycottWB.
“This is why you never trust anyone in Hollywood,” one user tweeted. “Never a more LOYAL actor to his role and they screwed him over HARD… He is a once in a lifetime Superman actor and now we will never see it’s potential or passion put to use… Sad.”
“The industry is rightfully questioning the direction James Gunn is taking DC Studios,” another user said. “@wbd is tanking #FireJamesGunn is trending continuously and the MAJORITY of the DC fanbase is upset. There is no business that succeeds long term by perpetually screwing over their customers!”
“Imagine having one of the most beautiful superhero costumes, a gorgeous theme produced by the legendary Hans Zimmer, a story of discovery, coming of age and rise to the greatest superhero of all time, and an actor beloved by fans, and seeing it all discarded? #FireJamesGunn,” another said.
Several other frustrated fans wanted to see the return of Zack Snyder, who directed 2016’s “Batman v. Superman” starring Cavill and Ben Affleck, among other popular films.
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Gunn seemingly responded to the backlash by defending his decision making in a Twitter thread.
“One of the things Peter & I were aware of when we took the job as heads of DC Studios was a certain minority of people online that could be, well, uproarious & unkind, to say the least,” Gunn tweeted.
“Our choices for the DCU are based upon what we believe is best for the story & best for the DC characters who have been around for nearly 85 years. Perhaps these choices are great, perhaps not, but they are made with sincere hearts & integrity & always with the story in mind. No one loves to be harassed or called names – but, to be frank, we’ve been through significantly worse. Disrespectful outcry will never, ever affect our actions.”
“We were aware there would be a period of turbulence when we took this gig, & we knew we would sometimes have to make difficult & not-so-obvious choices, especially in the wake of the fractious nature of what came before us. But this means little to us in comparison to our jobs as artists & custodians in helping to create a wide & wonderful future for DC.”
Social media users didn’t like Gunn’s use of the word “minority” to describe the number of disgruntled fans.
But some defended Gunn’s vision.
“Like others, I’m bummed about Henry Cavill not returning,” podcast host Aaron Sagers said. “Yet there’s no evidence Gunn (or Safran) are operating w/ malice. Quite the opposite. Gunn has shown the goods with both MCU & DCEU stories. He wants to make good DC movies, and I want to see them. He’s earned the runway.”
“Radical idea: Let these gents actually produce a few minutes of film before jumping all over them. Jeez,” writer Marc Guggenheim said.
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Gunn, who directed the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, was dismissed by the Disney and Marvel studios in 2018 for a series of controversial tweets he published a decade earlier dealing with the topics of rape, pedophilia, 9/11 and child abuse.
“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,” the Walt Disney Company explained.
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Several members of the “Guardians” cast, however, including heavy hitters Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel, defended the director. While he didn’t support Gunn’s old “inappropriate” jokes, Pratt commended Gunn’s “character” on set and argued that he deserved to be reinstated.