Over the past decade of filmmaking, The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a well-oiled machine, with the studio methodically releasing solo movies and crossover events. Every single installment in Phase Three has been a massive financial and critical hit, although there was one blemish on the face of the franchise over the past year: the firing and reinstatement of James Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
When James Gunn's offensive jokes form a decade ago resurfaced last July, he was promptly fired from his position as the director and architect of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It was a decision that prompted massive backlash, particularly from Guardians actor Dave Bautista. He even went so far as to claim he wouldn't come back for Guardians 3 if Gunn's original script wasn't used.
But James Gunn has since been reinstated, and will complete his Guardians trilogy after working on The Suicide Squad for DC. Dave Bautista recently spoke to this outcome, and has apparently let the matter go. As he put it:
I hope it’s good. I never actually talked to anybody from Disney. I only ever talk to people from Marvel. And they were very understanding about the way I felt... I got people who are very understanding of where I stood. A lot of them just weren’t outspoken about it. And I just happened to be very outspoken about the way I felt.
Well, this is hopeful. While the entire Guardians of the Galaxy franchise was in jeopardy in the months after James Gunn was removed from the project, it seems that things are starting to moved forward at Marvel Studios. That includes Dave Baustista, who seems ready to put the drama behind him.
James Gunn's firing took the public by surprise, that includes those closely intimate with the Guardians franchise. Following Gunn's apology for the off color jokes, the cast signed a letter of solidarity with their director. Vol. 3 was put on indefinite hold, while the studio no doubt pondered exactly what to do. After all, the Guardians movies are infused with Gunn's perspective and sense of humor, and finding a replacement was near to impossible.
Dave Bautista was the loudest voice in the defense of James Gunn, so there was certainly the potential for drama as the situation unfolded. But it seems that both the actor and Marvel Studios are on the same page, making way or another collaboration with Guardians 3.
In his same conversation with Pro Wresting Sheet, Dave Bautista went on to explain why he was such a staunch defender of James Gunn as the Guardians of the Galaxy drama played out. He said:
James [Gunn] is my friend. I love him. He helped change my life and I know he’s a decent person. He was being attacked. And what do you do when your friends are being attacked? You defend them, or you’re not really a friend.
It seems that Dave Bautista's morals led him to defend James Gunn in the months between his firing by Disney and eventual reinstatement as the Guardians 3 director/writer/producer. Bautista and the rest of the cast made their feelings known, and were left to wait along with the rest of us.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was originally teased to be one of the very first movies in the post-Avengers: Endgame world. While Marvel Studios has yet to release a schedule for the next slate of movies, smart money says the Guardians threequel would arrive shortly after Spider-Man: Far From Home wraps up Phase Three.
But James Gunn's sudden firing (shortly before he was set to appear at San Diego Comic-Con), the project was put on hold. No news came for a series of months, throwing a wrench into the film's cast and crew's schedules. As such, it'll likely be some time before the Guardians return to the silver screen, as the key players of the franchise have other projects lined up.
Spoilers ahead for Infinity War and Endgame
Luckily for fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy, they had a strong run in the last two Avengers movies. Infinity War saw the group split up to help battle Thanos, helping to buoy the blockbuster with their comedic chops. But Thanos' snap hit the motley crew of heroes hard, as Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, and Rocket faded to dust. What's more, Gamora was killed so that her father could procure the Soul Stone on Vormir.
Rocket and Nebula were the soul survivors, and were major characters throughout the events of Avengers: Endgame. Both of those characters were given some much needed vulnerability, leaning on each other in the wake of their mutual loss. The film's ending saw the reunited heroes back on The Benatar, searching for the 2014 Gamora who had traveled through time in the third act. And they may have a new addition to the team through Chris Hemsworth's Thor.
There's clearly a ton of narrative possibilities for James Gunn to mine from for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which makes it almost impossible to think of anyone else directing the upcoming blockbuster. It's a story that needs to be deeply connected to the events of Endgame, in addition to the previous two Guardians movies. Add in the possible inclusion of Thor, and it's going to be a long wait until the mysterious threequel finally arrives in theaters.
Just when Guardians 3 will finally arrive is a total mystery. Despite Endgame's release, Marvel Studios hasn't revealed its plans for Phase Four. This is likely due to the impending release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be the final installment in Phase Three. So hopefully the MCU's future will become more clear once Peter Parker's sequel hits theaters.
It may be unclear when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will hit theaters, as its in the mysterious Phase Four of the MCU. But the motley crew of heroes can be seen Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.