Though the Guardians of the Galaxy have charted their own course for adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are plenty of characters and concepts introduced in the film to build from.
Director James Gunn is currently working with Marvel to achieve that very goal, possibly expanding the cosmic side of the MCU with movies featuring new superheroes who have yet to get their own spotlight.
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is very coy about the future of the shared universe, but compares their plans to what has already come before in the last decade. In a profile for Vanity Fair, Feige said Marvel is "22 movies in, and we've got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that's come before—intentionally."
The profile states that Feige and Disney chairman Bob Iger hinted that Gunn was working on expanding the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise into different directions, possibly intending to spin off several characters into their own movies in the Marvel Studios cosmos.
The timing couldn’t be perfect, as new concepts could help fill the void if longtime Avengers actors decide to exit the MCU.
Fans have long been clamoring for Richard Rider to appear ever since the Nova Corps were featured in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and Gunn himself has stated that he is a big fan of the character.
He also set up the concept of Adam Warlock to pop up in a future film, and introduced fans to the original Guardians team from the comics as the founding members of the Ravagers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
There are many other characters that can be used to help expand the Marvel cosmic universe, including Quasar, Phyla-Vell, Moondragon, Captain Universe, Darkhawk, the Eternals, and countless alien races.
While some of these characters seem like a stretch to be able to sustain their own movie franchise, keep in mind that the Guardians of the Galaxy were basically unknown quantities before their cinematic debut, and now their films are some of the most popular entries in Marvel Studios' repertoire.
It's safe to say that Marvel Studios and Disney have the right person in James Gunn if they want to keep building their world. Hopefully we learn more about their plans in the coming months.