Phase 4 of the MCU is populated not only with new properties bringing fresh faces into the franchise, but also sequels and threequels to long-standing series that thrived in the Infinity Saga. While original stars like Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans may have hung up their shield and armor (most likely), heroes like Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy will live on in the coming years as key MCU players.
Director James Gunn will bring the Guardians back for their third solo outing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which recently was confirmed to release on May 5, 2023. The story details are being kept under wraps for the time being, although it seems all but confirmed that the core team will all make their return for another intergalactic adventure together.
This third film may see the end of the Guardians as currently constructed, especially with James Gunn likely to have finished his time with Marvel after this outing. This sentiment may leak into the cast as well if a recent social media post concerning the film is to be believed.
DAVE BAUTISTA MAY SEE THE END AHEAD
Drax star Dave Bautista took to Twitter to reassure fans that Drax will continue, but that "he just won't be played by this dude." He explained that he'll be 54 years old by the time Vol. 3 releases and implies that he feels he will be recast after this next movie:
"Drax isn’t going anywhere. He just won’t be played by this dude! By the time G3 comes out I’ll be 54 yrs old for god’s sake! I'm expecting everything to start sagging any second now."
Director James Gunn responded to Bautista's tweet, sharing the sentiment that "there's no Drax for [him] without [Bautista]." Gunn shared his support for the Drax star no matter what he chooses to do in the future:
"There’s no Drax for me without you, buddy! You ARE the MCU’s Drax the Destroyer and, as far as I’m concerned, could never be replaced. And you have the right to do whatever you want with your acting choices!"
Bautista replied to Gunn's response, showing his appreciation to Gunn while writing out a curious "End Of A Journey" hashtag:
DAVE BAUTISTA'S MCU SWAN SONG?
This statement from Bautista may come as a bit of a shock for some MCU fans, especially considering how popular he has made Drax since his debut in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. However, there are a few factors to take into account here, especially considering nothing is set into stone after this movie.
Even though Bautista will be 54 years old when GOTG Vol. 3 releases, he isn't the first MCU star to have continued success in these movies at that age.
Robert Downey, Jr. was the very same age when his final MCU movie, Avengers: Endgame, released in theaters. Other actors like Jeremy Renner at age 50 (Hawkeye) and Don Cheadle at age 56 (Armor Wars) continue to push on in their own franchises as well.
It's unclear whether this exit is Bautista's choice or the decision of Marvel Studios, but there is still hope that this sentiment will be proven false in the next two years. If the Guardians threequel does turn out to be his last outing though, he should have the chance to go out on top as an MCU fan-favorite.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will debut in theaters on May 5, 2023. Bautista will also join the cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+ and Thor: Love and Thunder, both coming in 2022.