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How Guardians of the Galaxy Can Completely Change After Vol. 3

Production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has come to a screeching halt after the firing of director James Gunn. Amid protests from fans and the cast, Disney also decided to shut down production indefinitely. Even so, Gunn had already completed a significant portion of the script, and it sounds like the plan is to use most of it for the movie.

If Disney and Marvel can move past the unpleasant taste that Gunn's firing has left in the mouths of cast, crew, and fandom alike, and get Guardians of the Galaxy 3 released in the next couple years as a quality product, the future can once again look bright for the franchise. As the GotG movies are responsible for $1.6 billion in box office receipts - not to mention an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War - it'd be a poor business decision for Disney to put off making these movies of too long, so it's a question is one of 'when' rather than 'if' Disney decides to make a third Guardians movie, and maybe even more beyond that.

Related: Why Disney Fired James Gunn as Director But Are Keeping Him as Writer

Whether Guardians 3 follows James Gunn's script to the letter remains to be seen, but as it stands, when the film gets made the door will be left wide open after it for Guardians of the Galaxy to become a wildly different franchise altogether. But how exactly will they accomplish this?

James Gunn's Story Will be Done After Guardians 3

The fact that Marvel apparently still wants to use James Gunn's story (if not his entire script) bodes well for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Ignoring the detour the characters (some of whom are currently dust) took with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, the film will represent the closing of a trilogy.

Gunn's script no doubt contains a number of pieces left on the board - the development of the Adam Warlock cocoon and Sylvester Stallone's classic Guardians roster from the post-credits tags in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 being the most obvious. If it weren't for the fact that a completed script exists, we still would have known he had plans for another chapter.

More than anything, the Guardians movies have been about a group of outcasts finding cohesion as a family. This theme progressed in Vol. 2, although the characters still found time to bicker and be dysfunctional. Even in Avengers: Infinity War, Rocket is accused of ditching the team - his supposed surrogate family - to go with Thor, because he's scared of Thanos. It's simple to suggest that Vol. 3 would represent the final, once-and-for-all coming-together of the team as a family unit.

Once that is completed, the Guardians are free to move through the galaxy saving lives and helping beings as a team - and family - who are as much of a force to be reckoned with as the Avengers. That, or several of the members will die terrible deaths and won't come back, leaving the remaining characters lost and broken shells. Either version (but probably the former) makes for a fresh step forward going into Guardians 4.

Related: Marvel’s Phase 4 May Need to Be Radically Different After James Gunn's Firing

What Are the Actors Contracted For?

The sad Hollywood reality of the Guardians' future on-screen is that many of the original cast don't actually have that many films left on their respective contracts. This means that a future beyond Guardians 3 might not include plans for many fan favorites.

Lead star (Lord) Chris Pratt currently has one film left to carry out, not including an appearance in next year's Avengers 4, provided his "two more Guardians plus another couple" soundbite was specific to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Guadians of the Galaxy 3 and Avengers 3 4. He has been vocal about his willingness to work with Marvel on a long-term basis, but that outlook may have changed with the way the James Gunn controversy and fast firing went down.

Recently, following said Gunn firing, Dave Bautista threatened to quit in disgust in Disney's decision, regardless of the amount of films he has left on his contract. That exact number is unclear, but we know that it is at least one more, following comments that he would only reappear as Drax out of contractual obligation. The legalities of whether he can resign completely or not are tenuous, but if he does, it would not be without severe harm to his career and finances.

The other actors in the cast haven't been as talkative about their contracts, but with Guardians 3 supposedly representing a natural end to the team's arc, it'd be an unsurprising revelation should Pratt, Bautista, and Zoe Saldana (Gamora) choose to step away. Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot) might be more likely to stick around, considering their voice acting is a fairly minimal task. The popularity of their characters also makes them most conducive for spin-offs, potentially with more adventures with Thor, which would be even more enticing for them.

Then there's, Pom Klementieff's Mantis, and Karen Gillen's Nebula. It's unspecified how many films either has left on their contract, but a number of fan theories have one or both of them dying off in Avengers 4, particularly Nebula. They could both live on for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but it's unlikely to see either of them in future films without the rest of the core Guardians to share the screen with.

If the actors who are nearing the end of their contracts decide to opt-out following Guardians 3, the way in which their characters depart the MCU will be the source of much dramatic and emotional mileage - that much is certain.

Related: Avengers 4: The Biggest Reveals From The Leaked Art

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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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