Guardians of the Galaxy: Will there be a fourth film?
With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn’s time at Marvel has come to an end and he created a fitting send-off for the characters he first brought to life onscreen almost 10 years ago, but the superheroes might not be done yet.
Actors like Dave Bautista have expressed their desire to stop being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) following Gunn’s exit, but the narrative was left off in such a way that many of the characters will have the chance to return.
Read more: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: The best Easter eggs and MCU cameos
So the question remains, will there be another Guardians of the Galaxy? Let’s break it down.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
Can Guardians of the Galaxy continue after Vol. 3?
In short, yes, it is perfectly possible for the Guardians of the Galaxy to return in future MCU movies, both for standalone films and as part of an Avengers line-up, thanks to the way in which things were left in the third film.
The catch is that the Guardians will not be the same team as people know them, because the third film saw the original group part ways in order to search for meaning in their own lives.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) returned to Earth to see his grandfather, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) left in search of adventures across the galaxy, Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Drax (Dave Bautista) remained on Knowhere, and Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) went back to the Ravagers.
Only Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) remain in the Guardians of the Galaxy, with the former now the leader of the group which includes Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Cosmo (Maria Bakalova), Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), and Phyla-Vell (Kai Zen).
The newly-formed Guardians are shown in the first post-credit scene for the film, and by including them it shows that there is a future for the group somewhere in the MCU.
Read more: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 post-credit scenes explained
Pratt’s Starlord will also have a chance to come back, it seems, because the second post-credit scene ends with a title card revealing that "Starlord will return,'' though it’s not clear if that’ll be in a fourth Guardians of the Galaxy movie or in another hero's story.
Who could return for a potential Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4?
Given the events of the post-credit scenes, it is expected that Pratt will return to the MCU in some capacity, as might actors Cooper, Diesel, Gunn and Bakalova.
Poulter’s time in the MCU has only just begun, and though Adam Warlock turned out to be more comic relief than he was a menacing villain it seems highly unlikely that the character would debut only to never return again. The same also goes for Phyla-Vell, who is only name-dropped in the post-credit scene.
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What is clear is that Bautista has finished his time as Drax, as the actor has stated on multiple occasions that he only wanted to play the character if Gunn was involved.
In an interview with GQ Magazine in January, Bautsita shared: “I’m so grateful for Drax. I love him. But there’s a relief [that it’s over]. It wasn’t all pleasant. It was hard playing that role.
“The makeup process was beating me down. And I just don’t know if I want Drax to be my legacy – it’s a silly performance, and I want to do more dramatic stuff.”
Saldaña has also stated that she was done playing Gamora, as she told The Hollywood Reporter in April: “I don’t think this is the end for the Guardians. It is the end for me, for Gamora.”
Will there be a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4?
Officially, Marvel Studios has not announced if there will be a fourth Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but this isn’t necessarily a sign that there won’t be one as only a few films have been announced in MCU’s Phase 6.
Read more: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 review: A heartfelt finale
So far, Phase 6 will consist of Deadpool 3, Fantastic 4, Avengers: Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, so there is plenty of room for a fourth Guardians of the Galaxy movie should the franchise continue.
If anything, the events of the next Avengers double-bill will likely have an impact on a future Guardians of the Galaxy film, just like Infinity War and Endgame influenced the third film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in cinemas and IMAX now.