Guardians 3 served as the final journey for this version of the team, which featured the iconic quintet of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel for their third team-up movie together.
With director James Gunn now on his way over to DC Studios as the co-CEO of the company, his time with the MCU is officially over following a successful run with this now-world-famous team of intergalactic misfits.
But since Guardians 3 serves as the end of the line for this version of the team, it's become clear that not all of these fan-favorite actors will be part of the story following nearly a decade of service.
Marvel Loses Two Stars After Guardians 3
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn revealed to the New York Times that Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista won't return to the MCU after their work in this threequel.
When asked about how he crafted the characters' endings, Gunn shared how "Zoe and Dave have been very clear they’re not going to continue," marking the end of their MCU tenures. He also confirmed that Chris Pratt is open to continuing his time playing Star-Lord:
NYT: "When you’re crafting all these character endings, how much do you have to factor in the actor’s willingness to continue in the role? For instance, Dave Bautista has been pretty vocal about saying he’s finished. Does that affect the way you wrap up Drax’s story as opposed to Quill’s, since Chris Pratt is open to continuing?"
Gunn: "Yeah, a little bit. Both Zoe and Dave have been very clear they’re not going to continue — likewise, me, actually. Chris is open to doing more stuff, although I think he has to be convinced. It does change some things: Like, I wouldn’t have had Dave in the post-credits scene. But I’m not sure if much would have changed beyond that."
He also admitted to not giving Zoe Saldana as big of a role as she had in Guardians 3, with other versions of the script featuring Peter Quill "dealing with her loss" much more heavily
NYT: "Was there ever an idea that Gamora would not come back in any form in 'Vol. 3,' and Quill would have to deal with her absence?"
Gunn: "That was a possibility, yes. He would be dealing with her loss, but she wouldn’t come back and confront him in this different way. I toyed with it a lot as I was writing the script."
Bautista and Saldana's Time with the MCU Done
Hearing about Dave Bautista's departure is far from a shock for most fans, as Bautista hasn't been shy in expressing his desire to move on from the role after Guardians 3's debut for most of the last couple of years.
The case was the same with Zoe Saldana after she announced her own retirement in the lead-up to Guardians 3, even noting that she thinks her role should be recast with somebody new for future movies.
Who Will Continue With Marvel Post-Guardians 3?
The mid-credits scene from this movie confirmed a brand-new team of Guardians with Rocket, Kraglin, Groot, Adam Warlock, and the young newcomer Phyla, who were all seen protecting an undisclosed planet from invasion.
The most likely of these characters to come back should be Adam Warlock, being one of the most powerful characters across all of Marvel Comics, especially with Will Poulter already having at least a feeling that he'll be back for more in the MCU.
Kraglin star Sean Gunn is already confirmed to move over to the DC Universe as both Weasel and GI Robot in the upcoming Creature Commandos show, although there's still a chance that Kraglin could show up in future cosmic entries.
Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper's roles are both voiceover roles, which would likely make their comebacks easier should Marvel decide to include them in the story again, and neither of them has commented on whether they would return.
And this all comes after Chris Pratt confirmed his own willingness to come back, especially with Star-Lord now finding his place back on Earth with his family again.
Now, the only question remaining is when exactly Marvel will look to revisit these intergalactic heroes, particularly with Guardians of the Galaxy 4 at least on the table.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters worldwide.