LOS ANGELES — Disney fired the creative force behind its “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise on Friday after jokes he wrote on Twitter several years ago involving pedophilia and rape were resurfaced.
It was the second such dismissal in two days in Hollywood, which has been trying to demonstrate zero tolerance for offensive behavior in response to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
James Gunn, who wrote and directed the Marvel superhero film “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014 and delivered a smash sequel in 2017, wrote the bulk of the tweets that got him fired from 2009 to 2012. They resurfaced this week, apparently after Mr. Gunn harshly criticized President Trump on Twitter, prompting two far-right provocateurs, Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, to search through Mr. Gunn’s social media history.
Mr. Gunn apologized late Thursday. “I used to make a lot of offensive jokes,” he said in a tweet on his account, which has since been deleted. “I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.”
But the consequences for offensive comments now come quickly in Hollywood, which has become hypersensitive to offensive behavior. And slaps on the wrist and apologies no longer suffice.
Disney fired Mr. Gunn midday 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,” Alan F. Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.
Paramount Pictures used similar language on Thursday to describe its reasoning for firing Amy Powell, the president of Paramount Television, a fledgling division mostly known for supplying “13 Reasons Why” to Netflix.
“Last week, multiple individuals came to us to raise concerns around comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values,” James Gianopulos, Paramount’s chairman, wrote in an internal memo that was published online.
After a swift investigation by Paramount lawyers and human resources executives, Ms. Powell was fired. Ms. Powell made insensitive racial remarks while on a conference call to discuss a coming series that will have a predominantly black cast, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
Although people on the call participated in the investigation, Ms. Powell denied that her language was inappropriate. “There is no truth to the allegation that I made insensitive comments in a professional setting — or in any setting,” she said in a statement on Thursday night. “The facts will come out, and I will be vindicated.”
Mr. Gunn has long been an online agitator. He was condemned by Glaad and other gay-rights organizations in 2012 for making anti-gay and sexist comments on a blog. He apologized at the time for what he called a poor attempt at humor.
The two “Guardians” movies collected a combined $1.6 billion worldwide. Mr. Gunn has lately been giving input on a “Guardians”-themed addition to Epcot at Walt Disney World and writing the screenplay for a third film, which he was lined up to direct. Disney has “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” scheduled for release in 2020; filming is supposed to begin in the coming months.
Later on Friday, Mr. Gunn said in a statement that he “regretted” his words.
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today,” he said.