Dave Bautista defends under-fire James Gunn

Hollywood colleagues reacted cautiously to Disney's Friday firing of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn over old tweets in which he joked about subjects like paedophilia and rape.

"I haven't worked with him. I don't know him, but I'm sure if someone's employment was terminated, I would like to think that their employer does their due diligence before they make that decision," said John Cena, who was at Comic-Con promoting the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee.

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn announced the removal of Gunn from the third Guardians film, saying the "offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values".

Star Dave Bautista defended Gunn, saying he is "one of the most loving, caring, good-natured people I have ever met".

"He's made mistakes. We all have. I'm NOT OK with what’s happening to him."

Director James Wan directed the upcoming Aquaman for studio rival Warner Bros.

"It's a tough one, you know. You've got to be mindful. It's just that fine line of freedom of speech on one hand. And on the other hand, you've got to be mindful of things that get out there. I don't know," Wan said. "Where do we sit today, in the culture and the space - are we going too far one way or are we going too far the other way?"

Gunn has been writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise from the start, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of multicoloured misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Chris Pratt a major movie star.

Through two instalments the franchise has brought in more than US$1.5 billion in global box office.

Gunn has apologised for the old tweets, which date back to 2008.

"When I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it," he tweeted.

"That’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. 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."

The tweets were found by a far-right conspiracy theorist, seeking revenge after Gunn mocked a conservative pundit.

APTN / Newshub.