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MAJOR spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Don't read any further if you haven't seen the latest Marvel blockbuster.
If you have seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, then you already know that it's a full-bodied moviegoing experience. The film hits every emotional beat on the chart, but easily the most important (and heart-wrenching) sequence in the entire film is Yondu's selfless sacrifice. The decision to kill Yondu (Michael Rooker) marks a significant moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, and now it seems that James Gunn intends to make sure that Marvel never raises the Guardians of the Galaxy character from the dead. The director explained:
Yondu is dead. It's sad. There could be a prequel Yondu film or a flashback or something like that. Yondu could exist in the past, but he's not going to come back to life, so long as I am involved with Marvel. It's just not going to happen.
James Gunn recently took to Facebook to answer fan questions about the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and he made sure to keep his opinion on Yondu's death as clear as possible: it needs to stay permanent. It's pretty much impossible to misread the guy's intentions with that character; as long as Gunn remains involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he will not resurrect Yondu for any reason. This revelation seems important because it appears to answer the question of how Michael Rooker is currently listed as "rumored" on the Infinity War cast list on IMDb. The character may return in a flashback sequence (or even someday receive a movie of his own), but his cremation at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the chronological end for the character.
As hard as it was to watch Yondu die, his passing represents a vital watershed moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To bring him back would cheapen the impact of his demise, and death permanence is something that James Gunn generally wants to see more of in Marvel movies. The director continued:
Yondu is dead. I think it's very important that in these movies, there are stakes within the films. I am not into this old school way of doing things, where you kill characters and you bring them back and then you kill them again and then you bring them back and their deaths mean nothing.
Death permanence is an issue that Marvel has consistently had issues with in recent years. For all of the studio's strengths in the realm of superhero storytelling, character deaths remain few and far between -- and they often don't last very long. The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to suffer from Phil Coulson syndrome, in which the studio continuously reverses notable deaths in the interest of keeping stories going. Even when a director deliberately plans to kill a character (such as Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3), the studio has often walked that decision back. In that sense, it feels like James Gunn killed Yondu to make a statement about the Guardians of the Galaxy corner of the MCU, and that decision has very clearly paid off.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is currently in theaters, and James Gunn's loveable band of cosmic misfits will make their next appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when The Avengers: Infinity War debuts on May 4, 2018.