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DC Studios boss James Gunn sinks cancel culture effort against star: Don’t keep a list of ‘what people think’
February 01 2023, 08:00

DC Studios co-head and Marvel’s "Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2" director James Gunn announced he won't be joining the cancel culture chorus attacking one of his actors. Gunn isn’t looking to part ways with, nor will he punish, DC film star Zachary Levi for his recent tweet slamming the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer.

Despite a substantial wave of backlash against the "Shazam: Fury of the Gods" star for his statement agreeing that Pfizer is a "danger to the world," Gunn insisted that he would not be looking to throw Levi under the bus or search for a replacement.

The director and studio head insisted that just because Levi said something he and others disagree with does not mean will change plans in terms of working with the actor. 


Levi, who plays the titular character in DC Studios’ "Shazam" superhero series, ignited a firestorm of internet criticism on Sunday when tweeted out his negative impression of Pfizer.

In response to a Twitter user who asked, "Do you agree or not that Pfizer is a real danger to the world?" Levi tweeted, "Hardcore agree." Social media users slammed the actor for being an anti-vaxxer. 

The furor over Levi’s tweet has made for a potentially more complicated press tour for the upcoming "Shazam" sequel, which premieres in March.

Gunn, who was recently named co-head of DC Studios, was asked about Levi’s tweet during a press event on Monday. He responded by acknowledging that he is willing to accept that actors and other filmmakers may have different opinions than him.

In Variety, he said, "Just real simply: Actors and filmmakers that I work with are going to say things that I agree with and things that I don’t agree with. And that’s going to happen. I don’t have a list of things that somebody should say because of what I think."

Gunn also stressed that he’s not willing to alter or reconsider his own filmmaking plans just because someone he works with has different opinions. He added, "And you know, I can’t be changing my plans all the time because an actor says something that I don’t agree with."

Though Gunn suggested he’d be more willing to take action if someone he worked with was "doing something morally reprehensible."


Gunn’s lenience towards Levi may be partially motivated by his own experiences when it comes to confrontation with "cancel culture." In 2018, he was fired from Disney/Marvel for years-old tweets joking about rape and child molestation that resurfaced and went viral. 

At the time Gunn claimed he was simply being "provocative," though he expressed regret for making the jokes. Disney eventually reinstated Gunn as director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise that same year. 

During a Fox News interview on his "The Suicide Squad" press tour in 2021, Gunn expressed some sympathy for people who have been canceled for outrageous or unpopular statements. He said, "I mean, listen, I'm always attracted to outsiders."

Gunn has also expressed support for other Hollywood people, who have generated backlash for their behavior. Recently Gunn pledged support on behalf of DC Studios for "The Flash" actor Ezra Miller’s mental health recovery. Both he and fellow DC Studios co-head Peter Safran claimed they were "supportive" of Miller’s announcement that he would be seeking mental health treatment last year.

The actor claimed he would be going into recovery after he was recently charged with felony burglary last May. The DC bosses stated they would also be willing to talk to the actor about future plans with D.C. studios once he was ready to resume. 

Gunn also defended "Guardians of the Galaxy" star Chris Pratt after fans called for him to be replaced in the series last year. All of this was connected to Pratt's religious faith. 

The director slammed the calls to cancel Pratt, tweeting, "For what? Because of your made-up, utterly-false beliefs about him? For something that someone else told you about him that’s not true? Chris Pratt would never be replaced as Star-Lord but, if he ever was, we would all be going with him."