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What Happens To Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Without James Gunn?

James Gunn's departure from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 quickly puts the entire project into question. The creator was scheduled to write and direct the third installment, just as he did the previous two films. But, now that Disney has fired him, what is going to happen to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

As Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe took shape, indie director James Gunn took a job that at the time looked to be a major risk. The Guardians of the Galaxy were an obscure comic book property just a few years ago, but the humorous and colorful approach on the big screen helped make this one of Marvel's biggest franchises. The first two films were incredibly well-received and made more than $1.6 billion combined. Marvel didn't waste any time announcing Gunn would return to close out the trilogy and he's spent the last year developing the project.

Related: Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Trailer, Cast, Every Update You Need To Know

All of this is expected to be for naught as Gunn has been fired as the writer/director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The news comes after old tweets resurfaced that included inappropriate and offensive attempts at humor. His sudden exit from the movie comes with production slated to begin early next year and a targeted (but never confirmed) 2020 release. So, what happens now?

Marvel Must Replace Gunn As Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Director

With Gunn no longer in the picture, the biggest role Marvel needs to fill is the director. Gunn was slated to be the first director to helm all three chapters of an MCU trilogy. And, even though he's no longer involved, he's going to have an impact. Disney may want to move away from Gunn as best they can, but the current iteration of the Guardians is infused with Gunn's DNA, especially with Awesome Mix Vol 1 & 2. Audiences now know what to expect when they see a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and that's unlikely to change with Vol. 3 even if Gunn's name isn't attached.

Read More: Who Should Replace James Gunn As Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Director?

However, that doesn't make the job of replacement any easier. Unlike previous Disney director shuffling (see Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Episode IX), this was a quick decision based on public statements and not due to Gunn's work in shaping the next film. Marvel don't have their next move lined up already, as Lucasfilm did with bringing Ron Howard on for Solo and J.J. Abrams in for Episode IX. Disney and Marvel Studios are suddenly in a position where they need to find another creative mind to take over. That could come sooner than expected if the next director is also in charge of an expected new script...

Will the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Script Start From Scratch?

Disney and Marvel don't just have to replace Gunn's role as a director, but also a screenwriter. Even though Nicole Perlman is credited on Guardians of the Galaxy, the first two movies are very much Gunn's creations. This was going to stay true on Vol. 3 as Marvel wasn't bringing another writer in to help Gunn punch up his own script. Similar with his absence as a director, whoever takes over will need to match the tone that Gunn's previously established.

The bigger challenge, though, is creating the next story. Gunn has spent most of the last six years devoting his time and energy to telling more Guardians stories. He knows these characters better than anyone else and clearly had ideas for where they could go next. He already completed the script for Guardians Vol. 3, but if Marvel and Disney truly want to sever all ties to him they can't use it; if they use anything from Gunn's screenplay, then he would have the right to be credited for his work. This would depend on how much was ultimately used, but if Disney wants to move on, telling a completely different story is the best way to go.

The script and director hiring do go hand in hand depending on how Marvel proceeds. They could hire another writer/director to take full control of the franchise, or could hire a writer very soon to break the next story and then start meeting with directors as the script takes shape. Regardless of approach, filling both of these roles is a must, and - depending on when it happens - could impact when the next movie is actually seen.

Page 2 of 2: Guardians of the Galaxy 3's Release and the MCU's Cosmic Future

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
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