In a parallel universe, Marvel fans might still be happily looking forward to the planned release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from James Gunn (writer/director of the first two films). Unfortunately, Gunn was recently fired from the upcoming Vol. 3 thanks to some controversial jokes he tweeted in the years before he joined Marvel Studios. This brings the question of what will become of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. if Marvel's rumored efforts to get Gunn rehired don't pan out.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 already has a completed script draft from Gunn, and Dave Bautista (who plays Drax) has said that he will leave the film if they don't use Gunn's script, but the continuing silence from the rest of the cast on that matter suggests that they will fall into line and do the film regardless.
What's painfully clear is that, if Gunn isn't rehired, Disney and Marvel Studios will lose whatever substance Gunn would've brought as the captain of the ship; his desire to wrap up his characters' respective story arcs like a true trilogy, and additional plans to introduce new characters to the cosmic side of the MCU such as Adam Warlock (although that character may not have debuted in Vol. 3). Any incoming director who attempts to adapt the existing Vol. 3 script will face scrutiny, skepticism and criticism; a hard sell for any filmmaker. Considering Thor's successful, hilarious and heartfelt introduction to the Guardians in Avengers: Infinity War, and the success of his own third solo entry, Thor: Ragnarok, an effective fix might be to merge Vol. 3 with whatever shape the so-far unannounced Thor 4 takes.
- This Page: The Challenge of Making Guardians 3 Without James Gunn
- Page 2: Thor and the Guardians Make a Good Team
Guardians of the Galaxy Can't Get Out From Gunn's Shadow
This kind of drama will be attached to the Guardians franchise for as long as it lives; after all, fans and industry spectators continue to mention Edgar Wright's name in the same breath as Ant-Man. Even in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, fans will continuously be reminded of "the film that could have been," and the reasons why it doesn't exist- especially if a Gunn-less Vol. 3 turns out to be a bad movie. Just look at the ongoing demands for the "Snyder Cut" of Justice League.
Legally, Gunn's name will also be hard to remove from the final product. As per the Writers' Guild of America's rules, a soft rewrite might not even cut the mustard; it would have to be virtually a 100% different plot in order to strike his name from the credits entirely. Disney could decide to show some appreciation for the creative process and allow Gunn to retain some credit, as he is due. It might be best for the company to lean into keeping at least some of his stamp on the finished work, showing solidarity for the years of his life he's already given the company and its IP.
Totally Rewriting Guardians 3 is the Wrong Move
Conflicting reports suggest that either Disney will throw out James Gunn's script, or keep it. The latter would most certainly the right choice, if the movie went ahead. Gunn is so inextricably tied to the characters that he's helped shepherd to the big screen that it would be folly to remove his completed script for Vol. 3 entirely. With Vol. 2 he gave the characters so much progress (and in some cases, closure), that it seems safe to assume that he had something special planned for the third entry.
With Star-Lord and Gamora's burgeoning relationship, Rocket's slowly-easing self-loathing, and Drax's acceptance of a new family after losing his own - not to mention Quill's resolution to his daddy issues - it's easy to imagine how Gunn's third film could have fully cemented the Guardians as a fully-functioning team and surrogate family. They'd obviously always be the bickering a-holes they always are, but they'd most likely finally be secure in their team dynamic - and James Gunn would be the only man fit to carry that sentiment home. As Joss Whedon put it when speaking about the Avengers, they're the definition of family: "People who have no business being together, but they are thrust together and need to make the best of it." It's a team dynamic that clearly works, and Gunn knows that as well as Whedon does.
To throw out everything Gunn has planned for these characters, after being so devoted to them for the last six years, would be a mistake. But by adapting the Guardians 3 script into an adventure that includes their new buddy Thor, there could be a future for the team without Gunn.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date: Sep 23, 2018