San Diego - More than 240 00 people have signed a petition for Disney to rehire Guardians of the Galaxy franchise director James Gunn, who also garnered celebrity support just days after he was axed over a series of offensive tweets.
"I'm smart enough to know this most likely won't change anything but hopefully, this could get Disney to realise the mistake they made and not do it again in the future," said a person named Chandler Edwards, who launched the petition on Change.org.
"I agree on the point that if people say a bunch of stupid shit while working for a studio, the studio has full right to fire him over the possible controversy.
"This situation is very different, though, as he made these jokes years before he was working for Disney and also the fact that they were jokes."
Edwards argued that if Gunn was being punished by being removed from the third instalment in the popular series, "you have to do it for all the other directors who have said some crappy joke sometime in their life, which is all of them."
The tweets, mainly from 2008 and 2011, joked about taboo topics such as rape and paedophilia.
Gunn, 51, has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and has drawn the ire of conservative critics, who went back through his timeline and dug up the tweets.
Guardians star Dave Bautista defended Gunn on Twitter.
"What will you do when the #cybernazis attack you? Who will stand by you? Who will cowardly distance themselves from you? Who will punish you for horrible JOKES in the past instead of defending you for INSPIRING millions? MILLIONS!!!" he wrote.
After the offensive tweets resurfaced late Thursday, Gunn used the micro-blogging platform to say "I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humour" after early years as a "provocateur."
Gunn, who has deleted his account, described himself as a "very, very different" person than when he wrote the tweets, now focusing on love rather than anger.
Gunn directed both Guardians of the Galaxy films. The third film in the series is due out in 2020.
Other celebrities who have come to his defense are Selma Blair, director Uwe Boll, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, Smallville actor Michael Rosenbaum and James'brother Sean Gunn.
SEE TWEETS HERE:
@JamesGunn I thank you for your talent, your decency and your evolution as a man. You propped me up when I was in a scary place, and guided me towards the decent and right thing to do. You have shown strength of character more than most anyone I know. You understood https://t.co/9kSf8Z1dP1— Selma Blair (@SelmaBlair) July 22, 2018
James Gunn shouldn’t appologize. Especially for some old tweets. WE ALL DID TWEETS OR SAID THINGS THEY WERE UNDER THE BELT AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER - THERE IS NO INNOCENT NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU PRETEND - BUT WHO GIVES A SHIT, RIGHT? @DisneyStudios @JamesGunn @MarvelStudios— Uwe Boll (@UweBollRaw) July 22, 2018
Just so I don’t have to keep typing this over and over: I’m not defending his old jokes. Only read one anyway. It’s that he was fired over OLD tweets intended as (bad) jokes... it’s a crazy concept and I’m just saying: no more R rated jar jar binks movie. Im walking. Peace.— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 20, 2018
Well said friend.— Michael Rosenbaum (@michaelrosenbum) July 22, 2018
1. I hope it goes without saying that I love and support my brother James. And I'm quite proud of how kind, generous, and compassionate he is with the people in his life, whether they are friends, family, colleagues, fans, or strangers.— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) July 21, 2018