Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 isn't being primed to set up future events in the MCU, according to director James Gunn.
Speaking to Collider during the press tour for Warner Bros' The Suicide Squad, Gunn revealed that Marvel Studios had not pressurized him to include story beats that would bridge the gap between their Phase 4 and Phase 5 plans.
Guardians Vol. 3 is currently the final movie in Marvel's Phase 4 movie slate (Fantastic Four doesn't have a release date yet), so it's plausible that some fans may think its plot would be the catalyst for the MCU Phase 5.
Gunn, though, has clarified that it won't, even though previous Guardians movies have introduced characters and other elements that would go on to impact the MCU.
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“The only time they [Marvel] ever [asked me to include something for future MCU movies] was on the first movie with Thanos, putting Thanos in there, which they wanted me to do," Gunn revealed. "But besides that they’ve never done that. I have to pay attention to things that happen, which they did talk to me about – the stuff with Gamora [from Avengers: Endgame] and things like that. I know that the characters have been through certain things, so I have to deal with that stuff," he said.
"But for the most part, they never once asked me to put anything in the script for Volume 3 to set up anything in the future. Nor would I do it, frankly, it’s not really my thing.”
Analysis: How will the Guardians Holiday Special set up Guardians of the Galaxy 3?
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won't be the driving force for Phase 5, Gunn's other Marvel project will be necessary viewing for MCU fans.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which will arrive on Disney Plus in December 2022, will bridge the gap between Vol. 2 and Vol. 3. Not only that, but the 40-minute special will go a long way to setting up the plot for the Guardians' next movie outing.
In a separate Collider interview, Gunn said: "I’m gonna film it [the Holiday Special] at the same time as the movie. I’m using a lot of the same sets, the same actors obviously, so we’re filming simultaneously with the film but it’s gonna have to be edited and finished sooner.
"It’s in-canon, it’s about the Guardians, you’re gonna learn stuff that you need to learn before Volume 3, and it’s great I’m really happy with it."
So we'll need to watch the Guardians Holiday Special to glean some information ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – but what could the special's plot entail?
For starters, something related to Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War (where present day Gamora was killed by Thanos in order to retrive the Soul Stone on Vormir) and Avengers: Endgame – where the 2014 version of Gamora went AWOL after Thanos' defeat – the Guardians have gone in search of their friend, surrogate sister and, in the case of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), his lover.
It's unclear how this particular story thread will play into the Guardians' next movie appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder, which arrives in May 2022, but we suspect it'll be a part of the Guardians Holiday Special ahead before the search for Gamora takes center stage in Vol. 3.
There's also the prospect of Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) leaving in Vol. 3, too.
Bautista has already confirmed that Guardians Vol. 3 is likely to be his final outing as the character, while Gunn has previously suggested that Rocket Raccoon may not be part of the group's line up post-Vol. 3.
The Guardians Holiday Special, then, could begin to lay the groundwork for their departures (maybe they don't agree with Star-Lord's galactic pursuit of Gamora?) before they potentially leave in Vol. 3.
It'll be a while before we find out anyway as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won't arrive in theaters in May 2023.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
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