Production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now on hold, leaving a major gap in Marvel Studios' Phase 4 slate. Marvel is still putting the finishing touches on Phase 3 of the MCU, but has also begun making plans for what will come after, and Guardians 3 was one of the few confirmed movies on the slate, with an expected May 2020 release date. Now that Guardians 3's production isn't happening as soon as expected, something else is going to need to take its place.
Marvel has become the king of the summer season over the last ten years, setting up shop almost every year in the first weekend of May and dominated the box office as a result. Whether it was the very first Iron Man, The Avengers, or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (to name a few), this May slot is part of the reason why the MCU has grossed $17 billion through 20 movies. Even though Avengers: Infinity War moved up a week and Avengers 4 could theoretically do the same, this is a traditional slot for the MCU.
It was widely expected that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would take this slot next, although it was never officially announced. The latest news regarding the project's production timeline makes that impossible, which means Marvel has some decisions to make. Before we get into what could come instead, let's first run down everything we knew of Guardians 3 and it's expected production.
- This Page: Guardians 3's Previously Expected Schedule
- Page 2: What Will Marvel Do Now?
Guardians of the Galaxy 3's Planned Release Date
James Gunn announced prior to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that he had agreed to come back to write and direct the third film. After his first sequel hit theaters, Gunn spent the next year (and then some) writing the script. This wasn't just any MCU script either; it was going to set up decades of cosmic stories for the universe. When Gunn revealed that he had finished his draft, the rest of the production timeline began to fall into place. Gunn went as far as he could without directly confirming an exact 2020 release during this time too.
It was revealed that production was expected to begin early in 2019. Chris Pratt even confirmed this was going to be the case while promoting Infinity War. Marvel's typical production schedule allots for roughly one year from when cameras start rolling till the film hits theaters. Disney and Marvel's habit of staking out release dates only further teased the inevitable: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was going to hit theaters on May 1, 2020. All of the evidence pointed to this release date, that is, prior to the delay.
Marvel Now Needs a Movie To Start Up Soon
The rapidly approaching 2020 release date isn't just a hole in Marvel's release schedule though; Guardians 3 had also been slotted into Marvel's production timeline. The movie was going to film in Pinewood Studios in Atlanta next year, making it the first MCU film to enter production since Spider-Man: Far From Home - which began a few months ago. With Guardians 3 now out of this production schedule, it means Marvel needs to find something else to fill this spot.
If Gunn hadn't been fired from Guardians 3, the movie would currently (roughly five months out from the start of production) have a finished script, a director in place, and most of its cast set. Guardians 3 would've added new cast members near the end of 2018, but most major roles in front of and behind the camera were locked in. Whatever project takes its place needs to have some of (if not all of) these significant pieces in place at this stage. This does ultimately limit the known options at Marvel's disposal, but there's still a few likely contenders to take this now vacant spot.
Page 2: What Will Marvel Do Now?
- 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