James Gunn blasts trolls after homophobic, racist backlash over Guardians of the Galaxy casting

James Gunn (L) and Chukwudi Iwuji in Guardians of the Galaxy (R).

Outgoing Marvel director and new head of DC Studios, James Gunn, gave the best response to a bigoted troll who targeted Guardians of the Galaxy star Chukwudi Iwuji.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is the latest film in the hit Marvel franchise starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Will Poulter, and Iwuji in the role of the villainous High Evolutionary.

Director Gunn took to Instagram, as the film nears the end of production, to tease the appearance of Iwuji’s character the High Evolutionary, with a photo of him on set with the caption: “Can’t wait for you all to meet this guy.”

Among the excited fans, however, were racist and homophobic trolls who had come out of the woodwork to criticise the casting choice.

“Another white guy they made into a Black guy,” they complained, “Why couldn’t they just leave him white or pick a different minority? How about Asian or, gasp, Latino? (how many Latinos and Asians in MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe]? Like total of 5?)

“Or make him an Indian or something. Because they don’t and won’t, that makes them ‘woke’. Next time, a major character (hero/villain) will be a trans or homosexual or non-binary (when in comics they are not).

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“Sad and pathetic. They’re picking based on race and what’s PC [politically correct] and not on acting, on what’s established.”

Among the number of people defending Iwuji was Gunn himself, who replied: “I chose the best actor, period, and the best person for the role. I don’t give a s**t what ethnicity Chukwudi Iwuji is, so stop with your racist presumptions on why he was chosen.”

The Guardians of the Galaxy character is actually purple for the majority of the film, as James Gunn pointed out.

Chukwudi Iwuji in costume (L) and the comic High Evolutionary (R).
Chukwudi Iwuji in costume, and the comic High Evolutionary. (Getty/Marvel Comics)

It is the latest in a concerning trend of racist attacks against Black actors, something Halle Bailey, who will play Ariel in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, has also spoken about.

She told The Face: “As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock any more. People don’t understand that when you’re Black, there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Marvel is continuing to diversify its content. Last year, the studio announced the ground-breaking Marvel/Disney+ series, Ironheart, which will star Shea Couleé – MCU’s first drag queen. Zoe Terakes has also joined the cast, the first trans non-binary actor.

Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol 3 hits cinemas on 5 May.