Guardians of the Galaxy may have a post-James Gunn MCU future – here’s how

Guardians of the Galaxy
(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

It’s been a bittersweet week for Guardians of the Galaxy fans, but director James Gunn has hinted that Marvel’s band of intergalactic outlaws could return – in some form – following the 2023 release of the franchise’s third instalment.

We recently reported on a tweet posted by Gunn suggesting he expects Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to be “his last” movie in the series, following earlier comments in 2020 hinting at the same news.

In a new tweet, though, The Suicide Squad director has stoked the fires of speculation as to the future of the franchise. In response to the question of whether the next instalment would be the last time we see the Guardians on the big screen, Gunn suggested that it “depends on how you define the Guardians.”

Could that mean a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 is on the cards? It sounds like it, albeit with the caveat that Guardians 3 is probably going to be the last of the series featuring the original lineup of Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket, Drax and Mantis. 

There have been reports of another Guardians comic book fan favorite – Adam Warlock – appearing in Guardians 3, too. James Gunn denied that casting calls for the character were underway in March, but there’s still a chance he could lead the team if the likes of Star-Lord don’t return. Warlock’s Guardians 3 appearance was teased at the end of Guardians 2, after all, so it’s a possibility.

We already know that the upcoming movie will likely be Dave Bautista’s last outing as Drax, with the actor telling Digital Spy: “as far as my obligations, I've got Guardians 3, and that's probably going to be the end of Drax."

That doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Drax the character, mind. In a recent tweet, Bautista clarified that “Drax isn’t going anywhere”, rather that he simply wouldn’t continue to play the role of Arthur Douglas in future flicks. “I’m expecting everything to start sagging any second now,” he added.

Space for more

For Marvel fans, then, the news is sweet and sour. Given Bautista’s close relationship with James Gunn, it’s almost certain that neither will be returning for future Guardians-related projects – especially with both hinting at their respective exits.

But despite their departures, both Bautista and Gunn have offered a promising glimmer of hope that the Guardians would return after Vol. 3 – potentially for another “big screen” outing, as per the aforementioned question put to the director. 

With the creative freedom afforded by Disney Plus, though, it’s no surprise that these mega-popular characters are unlikely to be put to rest. But while we might have expected a spin-off series à la The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a fourth feature-length Guardians movie wasn’t something many anticipated to be on the cards. 

Of course, we’ll have a better idea of the direction the franchise might take when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives on May 5, 2023 – it just might not be the big send-off many were expecting. 

In any case, don’t hold out for an elderly Drax.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.