The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy feel like they have been around forever. The ragtag space squad quickly became fan-favorites after their debut in director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) eight years ago.
But by next year, the team as Marvel fans know it will be over as Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, and others seemingly exit the MCU. And that moment just inched closer.
Gunn’s Guardians brought a new tone to Kevin Feige’s MCU. Led by Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star-Lord, the A-list cast featured Saldaña as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula — both daughters of Thanos (Josh Brolin) –, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, and Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel providing motion-capture for wise-cracking Rocket Raccoon and the loveable tree giant, Groot, respectively.
Guardians of the Galaxy was followed up by a sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) which saw Kurt Russell arrive in the MCU as the Celestial, and Peter’s father, Ego. It was during the sophomore Marvel studio movie that Pom Klementieff’s Mantis character joined the team of disparate misfits.
The success of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise would come to a standstill shortly after the sequel was released after James Gunn was fired by The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios for resurfaced, controversial social media posts. Following cast and fan outcry, Gunn was reinstated as helmer of the threequel but not before Warner Bros. snapped the director up for The Suicide Squad (2021) and HBO Max’s Peacemaker.
Over the years, Gunn has been extremely vocal on social media, often discussing on-set antics and sharing behind-the-scenes information regarding the projects he’s working on. Most recently, the Marvel director has shared a bittersweet moment for the Guardians and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) has wrapped. Gunn shared:
And that’s a picture wrap on the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. I love this amazing cast & crew & their beautiful talent & kind souls. I’m a lucky human to have them on the journey with me for nearly a decade.
And that’s a picture wrap on the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. I love this amazing cast & crew & their beautiful talent & kind souls. I’m a lucky human to have them on the journey with me for nearly a decade. pic.twitter.com/oVQCIfJjuZ
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) May 7, 2022
Gunn has been clear over the fact that this is his last project with Marvel Studios, and the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy are seemingly also on their way out of the MCU. Bradley Cooper has said he only wants to work on projects he has written or directed, while Dave Bautista is over shirtless Drax.
“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.”
After appearing in their own two Marvel films, as well as in the massive finale Infinity Saga event, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), the Guardians have become a beloved part of the MCU. The Phase Three movies found the unpredictable Guardians in dire straits after Gamora was killed by the powerful villain Thanos in his hunt for an Infinity Stone — the Soul Stone.
Despite Gunn detailing that it is over for this team of Guardians, he did hint earlier this year that Vol. 3 is the last “for most of us”, meaning doors are open for those who remain in the MCU. However, it is not goodbye just yet.
Marvel fans have The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) to look forward to this festive period, while in just two months, the Guardians will appear in director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) alongside Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster/Mighty Thor). Gunn has previously stated that the Holiday Special is required viewing for the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In addition to the returning cast, the new Marvel movie will also see Will Poulter appear as Adam Warlock. Sylvester Stallone and Sean Gunn are also reprising their roles as Stakar Ogard and Kraglin Obfonteri, respectively.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is slated to be released on May 5, 2023, as part of the Marvel Phase Four. Marvel Studios’ latest release is Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange) and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch).
Will you miss the Guardians crew? Let us know in the comments down below!