When the Guardians of the Galaxy return to theaters next month in Vol. 3 of their film franchise, the team will look very different than it did in Vol. 2. Since that last sequel, the Guardians have appeared in two Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame, and a Thor sequel, Love and Thunder, and their roster has undergone some major changes. Gamora died, Nebula and Kraglin joined the team, and Thor came and went. If you for some reason loved the Guardians but only watched their films and not the broader Marvel universe, you might be a bit surprised to see the state of the group six years later.

Writer/director James Gunn was the main creative force behind all three Guardians movies, but he was only an executive producer on Infinity War and Endgame. Those movies were directed by the Russo brothers, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. So Gunn might have had a voice in what the Guardians did there, but their specific roles in the story weren’t necessarily his decision. In fact, in a new interview tied to Guardians Vol. 3, Gunn revealed he wasn’t entirely happy with what the Guardians did in those movies.


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Gunn told The Hollywood Reporter that Marvel had the Guardians do “some things that I wouldn’t have wanted” in the Avengers sequels. The piece added that in Gunn’s mind “Star-Lord would have killed Gamora if she asked him to” and he “would not have punched Thanos and doomed the universe.” (In Avengers: Infinity War, Gamora makes Star-Lord promise that if she is captured by Thanos, he (Star-Lord) will kill her. When that exact outcome happens, Star-Lord can’t follow through with his promise, Thanos kidnaps Gamora, assembles all the Infinity Stones, and kills half the universe. Whoops.)

This, ultimately, is the peril for any filmmaker working in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: You don’t control your characters. Because they are not your characters; they are Marvel’s characters. As the creator of the Guardians movies, Gunn had a huge influence on the Guardians, who were basically minor figures in Marvel Comics for decades, and generally not treated with the irreverent humor that Gunn brought to the material. (The original Guardians of the Galaxy lived in the far future; the lineup that appears in the movie were largely featured around that time in bleak cosmic crossovers.) But even Gunn couldn’t demand certain story details.

Of course, now Gunn is headed to DC as the studio’s new co-CEO. He’s his own boss on his upcoming Superman film. So he should have a bit more say in how that new Man of Steel gets treated.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in theaters on May 5, 2023.

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