WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Just before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit theaters, director James Gunn announced that he would be back for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Gunn said that all three films would round out the trilogy and tell one complete story — but that almost didn't happen.
Leading up to the release of Guardians 2, the writer/director was non-committal about taking on the third film. Up until now, no Marvel director has completed three back to back films in a specific franchise. Even Joe and Anthony Russo, who are directing Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, only directed the sequels to the original Captain America which was helmed by Joe Johnston.
Gunn revealed in a Facebook broadcast that he almost didn't return for Guardians 3 due to a decision he made in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — namely, his decision to kill Michael Rooker's character Yondu. Gunn has worked with Rooker for years on multiple movies and that weighed heavily on whether he was going to return for the third film or not. Here's what he said in the video:
Let me tell you, there was nothing harder for me than the choice to kill Yondu in this movie. Michael Rooker, for all the crap I give him, is one of my closest friends in the world and the last thing I wanted to do was to make a movie without Michael Rooker in the future. I almost didn’t do Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 because there was no Michael Rooker in it and I couldn’t see making the movie without him. He means that much to me and I love him that much.
That single decision was something he came back to in several drafts of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Gunn went on to reveal that he tried to save Yondu but it never worked out in terms of the story. He continued:
[Killing Yondu was] the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make from a storytelling perspective. I wrote a bunch of treatments where Yondu did not die. There were other endings — he was saved at the last minute after taking the sacrificial stance, and I wrote many drafts like that. And I realized I was being dishonest. That was not what this story was. For me, the most important thing in making a movie is to tell the truest and most honest story possible, and that’s whether you’re making a $500,000 indie film or a $200 million dollar spectacle film. And the truth of this story, this was about a father’s true and ultimate love for his son. This is a movie about, Who really are our fathers? Who really are our siblings? And the only way for it to be an honest story was for Yondu to die, and anything else would have been half measures, and would have been me backing out because I was afraid to tell the truth. And so that’s why Yondu dies.
Michael Rooker has appeared in every single James Gunn film up to this point. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will mark the first time the director won't be bringing his go-to actor with him if we go by Gunn's statements. But there are still ways around that so it is possible that Rooker will, once again, be part of Guardians 3.
The first possibility is the old science-fiction/comic book staple of being brought back from the dead. Considering how powerful a message Yondu's death was in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 it is unlikely that Gunn will bring the character back from the dead. Another possibility would be seeing Rooker once more during Yondu/Peter Quill flashbacks. The third possibility is that just because Yondu has shed his mortal coil, Rooker hasn't. The actor can easily be brought back to play a CG character in the third Guardians installment. Rooker has been a lucky charm for Gunn so it would be sad to see him not be included in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Source: James Gunn