The sequel to the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, Vol. 3 will tell the continuing story of the intergalactic “A-Holes” who saved the galaxy from Ronan the Accuser and Ego in previous movies.
It’s expected that the film will deal with the fallout from the upcoming Avengers 4, while also ushering in a more cosmic age for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Vol. 1 and 2 director James Gunn previously suggested that the film could involve the popular comic-book character Adam Warlock (who was teased in the previous movie) and the return of Elisabeth Debicki’s Vol. 2 character Ayesha, as well as providing an “epic conclusion” to the story that would draw this version of the team to a close.
However, recent behind-the-scenes changes may now throw even these details into doubt.
What’s happening with James Gunn?
Well, this is the biggest news around this film at the moment, as James Gunn (writer/director of the first two Guardians films) was sensationally fired from the project after ten-year-old tweets resurfaced in which he made dark jokes related to child abuse and rape.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible.
“[They are] inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”
As yet, there’s no word on who could or would replace Gunn in the director’s chair, with the search made all the more challenging due to his close creative involvement with the franchise.
Will James Gunn be rehired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
However, there could be a glimmer of hope for those hoping for Gunn’s return. Deadline reports that back channel conversations are taking place between Marvel and Disney, and that the Marvel team is trying to persuade Disney to find a compromise that allows Gunn to be involved in the movie in some way.
While Bautista has threatened to leave the film over Gunn’s script, he has said on Twitter that he’ll do what he’s “legally obligated to do” in terms of his contract, and still appear in Guardians 3 even if Gunn is replaced as director (though he did describe the prospect as “pretty nauseating”).
It also seems unlikely that any other major cast members will walk from the project over Gunn’s firing, especially given the contracts that bind them to the franchise. James Gunn’s brother Sean, who plays the Ravager Kraglin and provides on-set acting for Rocket, may be less likely to come back given his family connection.
With that in mind, fans can probably expect Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Vin Diesel (Groot) and Pom Klementieff (Mantis) to return to their outer-space adventures alongside Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer.
That is, of course, assuming that many of the characters’ deaths in Avengers: Infinity War end up being reversed. By the end of the 2018 blockbuster Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis and Groot had been turned to dust by Thanos (Josh Brolin), while Saldana’s Gamora was thrown to her death off a cliff.
Of the main cast, only Rocket and Nebula were left alive by the end of Infinity War, which would be a fairly stripped-back version of the franchise to say the least.
When will Guardians 3 be released in cinemas?
Originally Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was shooting in early 2019 for a 2020 release date, though given Gunn’s firing it may now be that the project is put on hold (especially if they decide to write a new script).
We’ll keep you updated as and when details change about the new movie.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news