In a microcosm of the problem with aggregation-based reporting, film director James Gunn went online to refute a story circulating about him that relied on a falsified photograph of one of his social media accounts.
On February 1 2020, the pop-culture site Comicbook.com reported that Gunn had “teased” the inclusion of two long-running comic-book characters, Galactus and the Silver Surfer, in his upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The site’s source was an Instagram post it said originated from Gunn’s account before being deleted; it purportedly showed Gunn saying, “I’ve had some discussions” when asked about using the two characters, whose film rights were previously owned by 20th Century Fox prior to that studio being acquired by Disney (the parent company for Marvel Entertainment), which has produced Gunn’s Guardians film series. As so often happens, other entertainment sites then picked up Comicbook’s account and reported it while citing the site as their own solitary source.
“I did neither (nor did I ever have those conversations with Marvel). I don’t know who started it but it’s 100% a forgery,” he wrote. “Sorry to disappoint.”
So this story is going around saying I answered this and deleted it on IG stories today. I did neither (nor did I ever have those conversations with Marvel). I don’t know who started it but it’s 100% a forgery. Sorry to disappoint. pic.twitter.com/p65ggeuH97
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 2, 2020
Comicbook.com later updated its story and headline to reflect Gunn’s statement. But other sites who carried the initial story only barely updated their copy while continuing to display their original, false headline.
We contacted Comicbook.com seeking comment on the story but did not hear back prior to publication.