According to James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 will set up the next few decades of movies in the MCU. When Avengers: Infinity War comes to theaters next May, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be 10 years old. Strange as it may seem, that's how long it has been since Iron Man was first released, setting up the vast comic book universe on our film screens. Now there are sixteen movies which are a part of that universe -- with eight more already planned -- as well as numerous TV shows. And the large number of characters and stories which already exist in the comics indicate that there will be plenty more to look forward to in the future.
Thus far, the heroes in Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 have been separate from the rest of the MCU. The first film connected to the rest of the universe through Thanos and the Collector, and Nebula headed off to kill Thanos at the end of Vol. 2 as though to remind audiences that the movie is a part of the MCU -- but the Guardians have been having their own adventures while the Avengers and their friends have been protecting the Earth. It will not be until Infinity War that the heroes all truly begin to come together. Then it will not be long before The Avengers 4 brings an end to Phase 3 of the MCU.
Even though a Phase 4 has not yet been announced, one has been all but guaranteed by sequels to Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 being announced but not scheduled for Phase 3. And during a live Q&A by James Gunn on his Facebook page, he revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 will set up the future of the MCU for the next decade or two:
"One of the things I'm doing with creating Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 -- it will take place after the next two Avengers movies -- and it will help to set up the next 10, 20 years of Marvel movies. It's going to really expand the cosmic universe."
Expanding the cosmic universe for Marvel is certainly no small feat. There are massive amounts of characters, species, and planets which have yet to be introduced in the MCU. While there have been several movies that deal with life beyond Earth -- including the GOTG and Thor films -- most of the movies have stuck fairly close to home. But once the characters all meet Thanos and realize just how much is going on in space, things will not always be able to stay on Earth.
Gunn promises that this set up will include new characters, and also that it will be the last incarnation of the current roster of Guardians. While it is certainly always sad to say goodbye to beloved characters, no superhero team stays the same forever. Whether it's the Avengers, the Defenders, or any other team, new members join and old members either leave or die. And Gunn has shown in both previous Guardians films that he is willing to kill off popular characters.
There is still a long wait until Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 with several more films to come first. Still, for fans of the MCU, it is good to know that the future is being set up, and that the set up is in James Gunn's very capable hands.
Source: James Gunn
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