On the verge of the release of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 - and against the backdrop of positive early reactions that have met its first press screenings - the first film of Marvel's Phase Four has been announced by its director, James Gunn.
Despite some suggestions that he wasn't interested in making a third movie in the series, Gunn has confirmed that he will be returning to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as both writer and director. He revealed the news on Facebook as well as some of the reasons why he chose to finish his trilogy:
"My partnership with the folks at Marvel Studios – Kevin Feige, Lou D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Jonathan Schwartz – has been the best of my professional career, and is a huge contributing factor to my decision – as is my relationship to the guys at Disney Studios – Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman – who have been cheerleading innovation and the pure love of movies from the start. This is the kind of thing you’d expect a director to say about the people who have just hired him, but people who know me know I would never put up working with people I don’t like for a single movie, much less two, and much, much less three. I love them all and appreciate immensely their collaboration. I wake up every day pinching myself that they’d allow this punk rock kid from Missouri to help create this wonderful universe, and to not only allow but encourage creative freedom while doing so.
I can’t fricking wait to get started."
Interestingly, he also revealed that the trilogy ender will end "this iteration" of the Guardians. Which could well mean that we will get to see a new line-up beyond that point. That would also make the inevitable Groot/Rocket spin-off a lot easier to go into as well...
"Much of what’s happened in the MCU for the past ten or so years has been leading, in a big way, to the Avengers’ Infinity War. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will happen after all that. It will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond."
The director promises he will also be playing a key role in setting out the future of the MCU beyond Vol 3:
"I will be working side-by-side with Kevin Feige and the gang to help design where these stories go, and make sure the future of the Marvel Cosmic Universe is as special and authentic and magical as what we have created so far.
I promise you, the fans, I’ll do it all with integrity and love and respect for the characters."
Gunn says he resisted confirming he was on-board too quickly as a very conscious decision:
"I needed to know it was, in my heart, what I truly felt called to do. There is a history in Hollywood of haphazard endings to trilogies, and I didn’t want to become a part of that dishonorable tradition of pretending the third one doesn’t exist. I couldn’t do it for the money, and I couldn’t do it because it was what other people wanted me to do. I needed to do it because it was what I needed to do. I have never made choices in my career based on anything other than passion and love for the stories and characters, and I didn’t want to start now."
Thankfully, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to advance the stories of the characters he brought to the big screen himself:
"In the end, my love for Rocket, Groot, Gamora, Star-Lord, Yondu, Mantis, Drax, and Nebula – and some of the other forthcoming heroes – goes deeper than you guys can possibly imagine, and I feel they have more adventures to go on and things to learn about themselves and the wonderful and sometimes terrifying universe we all inhabit. And, like in both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, we will work on creating the story that goes beyond what you expect."
He also pre-emptively answered some of the big questions he expects to hear on the upcoming press tour for Vol 2:
“Wasn’t there a lot more pressure dealing with the sequel of a beloved film?” (No, there was less, because this time I knew there was an audience waiting to see it!)
“What was it like working with Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone?” (Daunting and at times overwhelming – I ran around in my backyard as a kid pretending to be Snake Plissken and John Rambo, so these guys are true icons to me."
This is all very exciting: Gunn made the best MCU movie so far in Guardians Of The Galaxy, and the sequel looks to be following closely in its footsteps, and he should always have been first choice to finish the trilogy. And the prospect of him showing off more new characters, stuffing in more Easter Eggs and HOPEFULLY cutting a third Awesome Mix is just glorious.
What other films do you want to see in Marvel's Phase 4? Check out some of our predictions for the next comic book movies that could be announced here.