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In 2014, James Gunn delivered his first Marvel Cinematic Universe offering: Guardians of the Galaxy, which marked the superhero franchise fully opening the door to its cosmic corners following teases in the first two Thor movies. Guardians of the Galaxy was a massive critical and commercial success, so it’s hardly surprising Marvel Studios brought him back for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Even better for the writer/director, his pitch for the sequel didn’t have to be nearly as long as the one for its predecessor.
James Gunn recently answered some fan questions on Twitter about how what pitching Guardians of the Galaxy to Marvel Studios was like. When someone asked Gunn how pitching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 compared to the previous experience, he responded:
This makes sense. While James Gunn was already an accomplished filmmaker before he signed onto Guardians of the Galaxy, having directed Slither and Super (not to mention having written movies like Scooby-Doo and the Dawn of the Dead remake), this was still his first go-around in the MCU. Furthermore, Guardians of the Galaxy was being prepped as an especially unique entry in this superhero franchise, so Gunn assembling 19 pages of material was necessary to prove that he was the right person to bring this movie to life.
Cut to August 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was met with near critical acclaim and made nearly $773 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run. Gunn proved he could deliver a hit superhero flick, so evidently all the Marvel Studios bigwigs needed to hear when he pitched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was that Ego the Living Planet would be the father of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord. This was a departure from the source material, where Quill is the son of King J’Son of Spartax, but Gunn decided to go a different route with the parentage using one of Marvel’s longtime cosmic villains, with Kurt Russell eventually being cast as Ego.
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t quite as critically received well overall compared to the first Guardians movie, it outperformed commercially with a worldwide haul of nearly $864 million. As such, I can only imagine what Gunn did during the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 pitch meeting. Did he draw something on a cocktail napkin? Did he simply flash the Marvel executives a look? I kid, of course, but years from now, hopefully Gunn sheds light on that particular process.
Granted, there was a period where James Gunn wasn’t attached to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but Disney eventually rehired him, and right after he’d been recruited by Warner Bros and DC to write and direct The Suicide Squad. As a result, while Vol. 3 was initially conceived to be one of the early Phase 4 movies, we now have to wait until 2023 for its arrival, assuming there aren’t further delays. Gunn confirmed last month that the threequel’s script is finished, and filming is expected to begin in late 2021.