Marvel Studios completely took over the entertainment news cycle two weeks ago when they unveiled the first trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron and hosted an event for media and fans in Los Angeles to announce their upcoming movies for 2016-2019. The nine films coming after next year's The Avengers 2 and Ant-Man are collectively dubbed 'Phase 3' of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and going into the event only one project of the nine had both an official title and a release date: Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
The studio had wanted to make many of these confirmations and announcements during the summer at San Diego Comic-Con, but a few contracts and uncertainties prevented them from doing so. At the time, Guardians hadn't even hit theaters but Marvel did have enough confidence to announce its followup for July 2017. Since GOTG was a record-breaking success (currently the 2nd biggest film of 2014 worldwide), it pushed Marvel into not only announcing more other-worldly titles (including Captain Marvel and Inhumans in 2018), but it made them move up Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to May 2017 where it will now kickoff the summer.
With the date so far out, James Gunn and co. have a year and a half to get the story of GOTG 2 hammered out alongside pre-production, and there are already a lot of ideas in play. There were a few plot points that needed to be determined for potential sequels even before the first one began shooting (i.e. who Peter Quill's father is) and the main story must put the team and characters in play for The Avengers: Infinity War.
We know that the Guardians sequel will at least have two female characters on the team next time around, and it may or may not also add a familiar character, going by our interviews with Gunn. We know Thanos may not have much of a role to play in the followup either. While chatting with EW, Gunn revealed some of the characters we can expect to return outside of the core five heroes.
"Yondu and Kraglin, the Ravagers. And I love Nebula. I think that she is underutilized in the film. I want to see more of her. The Collector."
While The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) is a key supporting player in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that doesn't necessarily mean he has a role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
"He’ll reappear. I don’t know if he’s gonna [be in] the next one. I do think his story is really compelling, and I think he’s one of those very interesting shades of gray characters."
Gunn later in the interview shared his thought process on how to approach the sequel and it comes down to doing something different, a sentiment he's shared previously, even when it comes down to selecting songs for its soundtrack.
"I would say the main thing is: Don’t just copy yourself, which is what a lot of sequels do. And in some cases it works. Like James Bond movies. But James Bond is a different type of character. This is many characters. I think Guardians, at the end, is not the structure of a comic book movie, it’s not the structure of an action-adventure, it’s not the structure of a comedy. It’s the structure of a family drama. So how does that play itself out?"
Gunn has remained mostly vague on the specifics but the team will face "new threats" in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and the movie will be more about the universe than any individual story. Expect to see plenty of things that will pay off in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 come time for Phase 4 because James Gunn already has some ideas for it...
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.
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