Director Confirms Multiple New Characters to Join MCU as Actors Leave ‘Guardians’ Franchise

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Rocket Raccoon and Drax the Destroyer in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Credit: Marvel Studios

One of the most surprising teams to enter Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was the Guardians of the Galaxy. Director James Gunn brought the disparate misfits into the blockbuster franchise in 2014 with Guardians of the Galaxy, as part of the MCU Phase Two, before a sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — also from Gunn — was released three years later.

Led by Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star-Lord, the Guardians have been a staple part of the MCU ever since their debut and the next two years will see multiple appearances of the ragtag bunch across at least three different films. But, as the legacy of these fan-favorite characters draws to a close, Gunn has revealed that multiple new characters will be introduced this year.

guardians of the galaxy
Credit: Marvel Studios

After being brought together under criminal circumstances in 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy have settled into their title rather considerably over the last eight years. From battling the Celestial, Ego (Kurt Russell), in the Guardians sequel to taking on the powerful villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) in the Infinity Saga two-part conclusion, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), Quill’s squad have had quite the tenure in the MCU.

Drax (Bautista), Star-Lord (Pratt)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Star Was Caught By Marvel Security Last Night

Gunn has brought his unique humor and creative ingenuity to his MCU movies, but his helming of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) was almost a non-starter. The Walt Disney Company fired Gunn over resurfaced tweets on social media but after impassioned pleas from the Guardians cast, Marvel Studios and Disney reinstated the director — not before Warner Bros. managed to snap him up for the DC Extended Universe’s The Suicide Squad (2021) comic book movie, and Peacemaker HBO series spinoff.

John Cena as Peacemaker
Credit: HBO Max

With eight years under their belts in the onscreen Marvel Universe, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022), which airs this festive season on Disney+, the feature film threequel debuting next year, and a top-billing appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), these characters are ready to bid their farewells.

Dave Bautista who plays the popular Drax the Destroyer has been increasingly outspoken about his character, stating that his time in the franchise is up. Meanwhile, Academy Award-nominated actor, Bradley Cooper, who lends his voice to the wise-cracking Rocket Raccoon, revealed in a recent interview that he intends to only star in projects he has written or directed. Earlier this year, Gunn made the following dramatic statement over his Marvel Comics characters:

James Gunn talking to Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn
Credit: Warner Bros.

“This is the end for us, the last time people will see this team of Guardians…I just want to be true to the characters, the story and give people the wrap-up that they deserve for the story. That’s always a little bit scary; I’m doing my best.”

So, as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 looks set to be the end for Peter Quill (Pratt), Drax (Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Cooper), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Groot (Vin Diesel), Gunn has revealed new information. He said:

More than one great new MCU characters will be introduced. #GotGHolidaySpecial

Related: Marvel’s New Drax Finally Speaks Out After Replacing Dave Bautista

As Gunn also reminds fans, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are filming simultaneously, with the events of the former happening in between Vol. 2 and Vol. 3. While the TV special may seem optional due to its lack of big-screen release, the movie feels increasingly important in telling the goodbyes of these beloved characters. The introduction of new “great” MCU characters may signal an all-new Guardians of the Galaxy squad.

It has not been the first time the Marvel director has commented on the introduction of new, “greatest”, characters, either.

(left) chris pratt as peter quill aka star lord (center) bradley cooper sean gunn as rocket raccoon (right) chris hemsworth as thor in avengers endgame guardians of the galaxy
Credit: Marvel Studios

Not much is known of the Holiday Special releasing this Christmas season but Marvel fans can expect to get an idea when the characters return alongside Chris Hemsworth (Thor) in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder this July.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special releases December 2022. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to open on May 5, 2023. The latter will also introduce Will Poulter as Adam Warlock.

Which great characters do you think will be introduced in the Holiday Special? Let us know in the comments down below!

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