James Gunn is saying "never say never" to more Marvel after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The third volume of the blockbuster Marvel Studios series is expected to be the last with the current team — Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper), and a time-traveling Gamora (Zoe Saldana) — as part of Gunn's original plans for a trilogy. Vol. 3 will conclude a story started with 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, as the filmmaker reaffirmed when asked about returning for a potential Vol. 4:
"Never say never but I see Vol 3 as the end of the Guardians' story I started telling back with Vol 1.," he tweeted to a fan asking about a Gunn-directed fourth Guardians. Last April, Gunn stated he has "no plans" for a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4.
Me? Never say never but I see Vol 3 as the end of the Guardians’ story I started telling back with Vol 1. https://t.co/q6iuqWoSgQ— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) May 8, 2021
After Gunn was fired and eventually rehired as the director of Vol. 3 — which he would film only after finishing work on The Suicide Squad for DC Films and Warner Bros. — the director revealed a Gunn-less Vol. 3 would have lacked the personal touch from his connection to Rocket, a genetically-enhanced outlaw and admitted "little monster" whose arc will be completed in the third movie.
"When you asked me what was saddest for me when I thought [Vol. 3] was gone — and anybody at Marvel can tell you — it's this very strange and attached relationship to Rocket," Gunn said in a 2019 interview with Deadline after being reinstated by Disney. "Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic. Groot is like my dog. I love Groot in a completely different way. I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed."
"He has an arc that started in the first movie, continued into the second and goes through [Avengers sequels] Infinity War and Endgame, and then I was set to really finish that arc in Guardians 3," Gunn revealed. "That was a big loss to me — not being able to finish that story — though I was comforted by the fact that they were still planning to use my script."
Plot details for the threequel remain under wraps. Last month, Gunn tweeted he's "not sure the galaxy is big enough" for the "huge" final chapter of his trilogy. Marvel Studios has set Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for release in theaters on May 5, 2023.