Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 might be the final MCU outing for one of the team's original members.
Just days after director James Gunn hinted that the third Guardians movie could be the last one he directs, Dave Bautista - who plays fan favorite Drax - may also be calling time on his Marvel career.
Bautista spoke to Digital Spy ahead of the release of Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder's upcoming zombie action heist flick that Bautista stars in, and was asked to provide some updates on the Marvel movie threequel.
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Bautista said that he didn't know what the script for Guardians 3 was yet, while also revealing that there had even been plans for a Drax and Mantis spin-off movie at some point. However, Bautista claimed that Marvel Studios didn't seem fussed on the idea, before he suggested that Drax may not return post-Guardians 3.
"It [Drax and Mantis movie] was really because it was James Gunn's idea," Bautista said. "I thought it was such a brilliant idea, but I haven't heard any follow-up from the studio. I don't think they're very interested, or it doesn't fit into the way they have things mapped out. But other than that, no. I mean, as far as my obligations, I've got Guardians 3, and that's probably going to be the end of Drax."
Will Guardians of the Galaxy 3 be the last MCU movie with the original line up?
Spoilers follow for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Avengers: Endgame.
It's sounding more likely. Marvel movie series tend to encompass three films before their arcs are considered to be complete, so it wouldn't be surprising if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the final outing for Star-Lord's ragtag crew.
Of course, there are exceptions to that rule. Thor: Love and Thunder is the fourth Thor film in his series, while we've had four Avengers movies so far, too. Other MCU properties, though, have had three instalments before Marvel Studios moves on to introduce other superheroes.
But we digress. Back to the Guardians' original movie line up, it's likely that we won't see Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket, Drax and Mantis all still be part of the team once Guardians 3 ends.
As he hints at, Bautista might not return for another movie and, given that he's very close to Gunn, we suspect that he wouldn't be back for Guardians 4 without the series' director.
Next, Rocket Raccoon could part ways with the group. Back in May 2019, Deadline conducted an interview with Gunn who, at the time, had been fired by Marvel Studios for insensitive comments he had made in the past. Gunn had teased the possibility that Rocket's arc would be concluded in Guardians 3, but that was before he was fired and rehired by Marvel.
As Bautista says in his Digital Spy interview, the Guardians 3 script has changed, but it's unclear if those alterations relate to Rocket's story. If Gunn believes that Rocket's arc will be complete by the end of Guardians 3, he could be another who departs.
Finally, we have the ongoing speculation about Adam Warlock's introduction to the MCU. In the comics, Warlock is a superpowered being created by a scientific group called the Enclave who eventually joins the Guardians line up. His origins, though, have seemingly been changed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Guardians of the Galaxy 2's post-credits scene, we see the Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha nursing her wounds after the Guardians destroyed her fleet of warships. As the camera pans around from Ayesha, we see a golden 'birth pod', which Ayesha claims will create the "perfect being" capable of destroying the Guardians. She says her creation will be called "Adam", which is an obvious nod towards Adam Warlock.
Back in March, Gunn had to deny claims that he wasn't in the process of casting an actor to portray Warlock on the big screen. It's unclear if this means that Adam Warlock won't appear in the next Guardians movie, but the smart money is on him doing so. Gunn is currently busy on post-production duties for his upcoming DC movie The Suicide Squad, so work on Guardians 3 won't have his full attention until after that film's release in August.
There is no casting underway for Vol. 3. And in what world would I only cast a “Caucasian” if the character has gold skin? And if I wanted a Zac Efron type wouldn’t I go to Zac Efron? Where do you get this nonsense? https://t.co/dxZJUMvtVsMarch 10, 2021
Still, if Warlock does show up in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, he could end up being a new member of the team, and he could even replace Star-Lord as their leader. If Peter Quill finds the 2014 version of Gamora, following the events of Avengers: Endgame, and ends up leaving the Guardians as well, the group will need a new commander-in-chief, and there would be no-one better than Warlock.
Of course, this is all speculation on our part. Potential departures from the Guardians may have changed since Gunn's initial script, and Bautista didn't outright confirm that he was leaving. If we had to guess, however, we'd say that there will be line up changes by the time the credits roll on Guardians 3,
We'll have to wait until May 2023 to find out for sure. Before then, though, the Guardians will be part of Thor: Love and Thunder, which will arrive in theaters on May 6, 2022.
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