The superhero movie genre has never been as prominent as it is now. Studios are releasing multiple movies a year under their own cinematic universes, and as that continues, lesser known properties will be given their chance to shine. Marvel was able to find a diamond in the rough with Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. Instead of being a minor piece to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Guardians are now here to stay - with the followup, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, arriving next year. This time around, the original five Guardians will be back, and even with Groot now being Baby Groot, the team will be tougher than ever.
Early rumors pointed to Yondu, Nebula, and newcomer Mantis joining the team, something that has now been confirmed thanks to the first piece of concept art from the sequel. With the roster now expanded to eight Guardians, director James Gunn has revealed that a ninth was at one time going to be involved at one point in the project's development.
Gunn has been very active on social media since joining the MCU, doing the best he can to answer fan questions. In his most recent Q&A on Facebook, he revealed that another member was at one point in the script - something our own Rob Keyes assumed was another Guardians member back during the treatment stage - but ultimately was removed to the film being overcrowded. It came down to Mantis and the other character, and it is obvious which one was chosen to stay.
"Yes. In my initial treatment I had a whole other Guardian involved. I loved the character and loved including him/her, and thought my take was fun. But I started to feel that there were two many characters in the story and for all of the characters to get their due, I needed to remove one. So this character left, and Mantis stayed."
More on what James Gunn previously revealed on new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 here.
It is unlikely that Gunn will ever reveal what character was almost included, if only to leave room for the character to potentially appear in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 . The decision to keep the amount of new Guardians from growing too much in the sequel reads as being a good move; not because the Guardians do not need more help, but that the chemistry between the characters in Gunn's first movie was so strong. After all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will also introduce us to Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet, who also happens to be Star-Lord's father.
It would be easy for Gunn and the other major players at Marvel Studios to add more and more characters to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in order to make it feel even more like a "space Avengers" movie - but that is not what this franchise is for. In time the series will be used to usher in more cosmic characters, such as highly demanded ones like Adam Warlock and Nova; until then though, it's best to keep the focus on the Guardians themselves. This is only the second film in the cosmic corner of the MCU after all, so there should be more than enough time for everyone's favorite cosmic character to be introduced as long as Marvel can keep the MCU moving forward.
Doctor Strange opens in theaters November 4, 2016, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming - July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok - November 3, 2017; Black Panther - February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War - May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp - July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel - March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers - May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Source: James Gunn