James Gunn, writer/director for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise, has confirmed that he’ll return for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as writer and director. The news comes as Gunn prepares to kick off the U.S. press junket for the highly anticipated sequel, after which they’ll head to Europe by week’s end. Gunn got out in front of the inevitable questions about his return for a third installment by taking to Facebook, but there’s a lot more here to sort out than just the very welcome news that he’ll be back to captain the ship. We’ll get into that below.
Starring Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillen, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki, and Pom Klementieff, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 rolls out internationally later this month and arrives in the U.S. on May 5th.
You can probably guess some of the standard questions Gunn is about to hear during press rounds:
“Wasn’t there a lot more pressure dealing with the sequel of a beloved film?” (No, there was less, because this time I knew there was an audience waiting to see it!)
“What was it like working with Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone?” (Daunting and at times overwhelming – I ran around in my backyard as a kid pretending to be Snake Plissken and John Rambo, so these guys are true icons to me.)
Gunn’s been around a while, however, and he knows that the tendency is to look far ahead to a likely sequel rather than to focus on the current release. With that in mind, he put some thought into his response to whether or not he’d be returning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 rather than simply avoiding the question:
I needed to know it was, in my heart, what I truly felt called to do. There is a history in Hollywood of haphazard endings to trilogies, and I didn’t want to become a part of that dishonorable tradition of pretending the third one doesn’t exist. I couldn’t do it for the money, and I couldn’t do it because it was what other people wanted me to do. I needed to do it because it was what I needed to do. I have never made choices in my career based on anything other than passion and love for the stories and characters, and I didn’t want to start now.
After much introspection, Gunn had his answer, and he wanted to share it with you, me, and us; the fans:
So, yes, I’m returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In the end, my love for Rocket, Groot, Gamora, Star-Lord, Yondu, Mantis, Drax, and Nebula – and some of the other forthcoming heroes – goes deeper than you guys can possibly imagine, and I feel they have more adventures to go on and things to learn about themselves and the wonderful and sometimes terrifying universe we all inhabit. And, like in both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, we will work on creating the story that goes beyond what you expect.
After praising the creative team behind the MCU and the Marvel Studios brass he gets to work alongside, Gunn also teased Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s place in the greater MCU:
Much of what’s happened in the MCU for the past ten or so years has been leading, in a big way, to the Avengers’ Infinity War. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will happen after all that. It will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond. I will be working side-by-side with Kevin Feige and the gang to help design where these stories go, and make sure the future of the Marvel Cosmic Universe is as special and authentic and magical as what we have created so far.
I promise you, the fans, I’ll do it all with integrity and love and respect for the characters.
As great as Gunn’s respect for the fans and the characters is, that bit about the timing of the Guardians‘ third volume is quite interesting. As I talked about in my review of Insight Editions’ “Guardians of the Galaxy: Creating Marvel’s Spacefaring Super Heroes: The Complete Comics History”, there have been a lot of Guardians team members over the years. The current iteration isn’t even the original one, not by a long shot.
Could Major Vance Astro, Martinex T’Naga, and Captain Charlie-27 be making an appearance? And now that Mantis is here, perhaps Adam Warlock and Quasar/Phyla-Vell will join the party as well. Even Venom swung by a time or two in recent years. I’m not saying any of these characters will/won’t appear (though Venom’s likely out due to Sony’s plans for their own Marvel Universe), but there are quite a few options for team-ups in the years to come. Let us know who you want to see on a future Guardians team in the comments below!
Here’s Gunn’s entire Facebook rundown: