The third adventure with the Guardians in the MCU has been a long time coming. By the time it releases in May 2022, it‘ll have been six years since Vol. 2 dropped in theaters. But the big question - will it be worth the wait?
According to both Karen Gillian (Nebula) and Pom Klementieff (Mantis), the script for Vol. 3 left them “full of tears.” Gillian even went as far as to say that it could very well be James Gunn’s “strongest work yet.”
The script itself isn’t the only part of the production that looks to be emotionally charged, seeing as the third Guardians outing will be Gunn’s last adventure with those characters and likely his last project under Marvel for the foreseeable future.
So, as one could imagine, the production itself wasn’t the easiest.
James Gunn on Vol. 3's Production
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, James Gunn discussed his work on the upcoming The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and its production alongside Vol. 3.
The director revealed that writing, shooting, and getting the proper performances were all easy for the Holiday Special—but when it came to his upcoming threequel, the production "was torture in every way:"
"... I’ll be honest, I wrote the screenplay in a few hours, so it just kind of spilled out of me. It was very easy. Everything about shooting it was easy. Everything about getting the performances out of people was easy, whereas Vol. 3 was torture in every way. And so it was kinda like going back and forth between these two things. So it was really fun and really easy, and the score was instant."
When asked about postwork on Vol. 3, Gunn shared that "it's great" and that he "still [has] a ton of visual effects" to work on while also "putting the score together:"
"Great. It’s great. It’s a big movie, and it’s so different from the special because the special is so wacky and insane. The movie is so emotional, but it’s been a real joy making it. So it’s coming along great. I still have a ton of visual effect shots I’m working on, and of course, putting the score together with John Murphy, which is gigantic. So those are the things I’ve been focusing on most, lately."
Separately, while on the Phase Zero podcast, Gunn re-affirmed that the Holiday Special is "very, very different," and Vol. 3 is "very, very, emotional:"
"[The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special] is also very, very different than Vol. 3. Because Vol. 3 is a very, very emotional movie. And it tells this story about Rocket, and where he came from, and where he’s going, and how that ties into everybody else, and the end of this iteration of the Guardians. And so doing this goofy thing like once every four days and going, and shooting four days of Guardians Vol. 3, and then going back. It almost created a lot of whiplash. But it was also almost like the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special days were like snow days. That was recess. That was fun.”
A Troublesome Production for the Guardians?
There’s almost certainly going to be a specific group of people who find his words worrisome - don’t. Every production is incredibly strenuous on everyone working them, so Gunn noting that the process was “torture in every way” isn’t far from standard procedure.
Given how emotional the final movie in Gunn’s trilogy is supposed to be, it’s no wonder this most recent shoot was notably difficult—and that’s before even considering the usual mountain of tasks that one has to undertake while making some of the most expensive blockbusters out there.
Having the Holiday Special act like a “recess” sounds like it was probably very beneficial to the crew, who spends months working nonstop on them. Though, one would have to imagine that jumping back and forth between the special, Vol. 3 itself, and content for the franchise’s Epcot ride would be taxing as well.
Ironically enough, while he may be done with Marvel Studios after Vol. 3, Gunn’s workload is only going to get heavier moving forward. Recently he was promoted to lead the DCU at Warner Bros. alongside Peter Safran, where he’s not only the boss to the entire cinematic universe, but he'll also make his own films and television series.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Holiday Special hits Disney+ on Friday, November 25, while Vol. 3 debuts on May 5, 2023.