2014 introduced the world to the Guardians of the Galaxy led by Chris Pratt's Peter Quill, with the film being directed by James Gunn. That MCU film earned a positive reception from fans and critics, thus leading to its rousing success. As a result, a sequel was eventually released in 2017 as part of the franchise's Phase 2.
After a series of delays and Gunn's firing and re-hiring, a threequel in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to premiere in theaters in 2023, but the director has already confirmed that this is the "last time people will see" this iteration of the team.
This news has led to concerning speculation about the team's MCU future, with some fans theorizing that several members will bite the dust in the upcoming film. This is on top of the fact that cast members like Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff admitted that the threequel's script made them cry, thus suggesting that it would be an emotional affair.
Now, as the film's release is less than a year away, Gunn has shared a powerful tribute to the franchise on social media.
James Gunn Bids Goodbye to the MCU's Guardians
After confirming that production for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has wrapped, director James Gunn shared a heartfelt goodbye to the franchise.
While unveiling the slate for the threequel's final shot, Gunn shared that it "took everything" in him "not to break down sobbing on the spot" upon shooting a sequence involving Rocket Raccoon:
"After over 100 days of shooting & over 3000 shots, this is the slate for the final shot of #GotGVol3, presented to me by the camera crew. It was an easy shot of Rocket seated, 1st with @seangunn, & then nothing there, & took everything in me not to break down sobbing on the spot."
Gunn continued by pointing out that the "majority of the last ten years" of his life have been spent thinking about the cosmic team:
"The majority of the last ten years of my life have been spent working on & thinking about the Guardians. I still have a long road ahead of me with VFX & editing, but it was still momentous to me."
The Marvel filmmaker then shared that he sees these characters "as parts of myself and parts of those I love," with him saying that writing their words is his way of "expressing that love:"
"It is somewhat simple to explain to others how much I love this cast & crew. It is more difficult to explain how much I love these characters - that I see them as parts of myself & parts of those I love, & filming them, & writing their words, is a way of expressing that love."
While Gunn reiterated that he will still be working with the cast and crew "over the next year until release," the director said that shooting the threequel's last shot served as a "reminder of the warm impermanence of life and love:"
"Again, I’ll still be working with them over the next year until release, but shooting that last shot was a reminder of the warm impermanence of life & love, & how that impermanence makes it so precious, so valuable, & is a good reason to be grateful for what I have right now."
Gunn also shared the hand-made camera lens caps that the camera crew crafted for him to celebrate the filming wrap. Based on the image, one of the caps featured a callback to Rocket's experiment number, Subject 89P13, which was taken from the first film:
"Anyway. The camera crew also stuck their hand-made camera lens caps on the back of the slate for me. Much love to you all."
When replying to a fan, Gunn also reinforced the fact that Vol. 3 is "the end of this story and of this team:"
"I’ve made the three I’ve made on my own terms. This is the end of this story & of this team."
What's Next for the Guardians of the Galaxy?
James Gunn's immense passion for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is featured in his latest series of tweets, and it's safe to say that this is only the tip of the iceberg, as the threequel will likely serve as the grand showcase of his love for the characters.
The conclusion to the Guardians franchise has been a long time coming, and there are many factors as to why this has been the case. On top of the pandemic-related delays, Gunn was initially fired from the film's directing duties due to old inappropriate tweets. However, the director was eventually reinstated, much to the delight of the franchise's stellar cast and crew.
While Vol. 3 seems poised to serve as Gunn's redemption, it's likely to lean toward more on the idea of it as his passion project. The director's love and admiration for these characters would definitely translate on screen, meaning that it will likely be a tearful goodbye on and off the screen.
Despite the end of the road for the Guardians, there are two more projects where this team will be featured, namely Thor: Love and Thunder and the Holiday Special one-off on Disney+.
Seeing the end of Peter Quill's ragtag group of cosmic heroes is a bittersweet moment for MCU fans everywhere, considering that they are a huge part of the Infinity Saga. Still, it's possible that other characters from the team would return for other projects, especially after some cast members like Karen Gillan have expressed interest in a Disney+ spinoff show.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to arrive in theaters on May 5, 2023.