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James Gunn Reflects On How Challenging It Was To Write Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3: ‘I Was Running Out Of Steam’

 Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Inspiration is only part of the equation when making a project like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While writer/director James Gunn is currently at work in the world of upcoming DC movies, which takes him off of the board for the 2024 movie release schedule, the man is still game to discuss how his 2023 movie came together.

Through that generosity, Gunn has revealed just why crafting his big MCU three-quel saw him “running out of steam,” and what he did to get back on the rails with his stellar Marvel finale. Starting with the answer to a random fan question on Threads, Superman: Legacy’s helmer revealed that Guardians 3 was the longest writing project he’d ever tackled. Citing that it took “more than a year” to write, James was then asked if he’d had to alter anything in the face of developments from Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. As straightforward as ever, here’s how James Gunn addressed that query:

No. Marvel changed nothing. I just had a hard time wrapping things up. And I was running out of steam until I walked away and did The Suicide Squad and came back. But even then it was not the most pleasant writing experience I’ve ever had. Just pure willpower pushing it through.

Naturally the Infinity War alterations to Gunn’s original Gamora storyline don’t count, as Zoë Saldaña’s MCU hero was originally going to die in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Outside of that fact, this is still a pretty intriguing question to ask, as those twin pillars of Marvel cinematic hype were a turning point for the franchise at large.

Connecting the dots in a film that arrived four years after was probably still a piece of the puzzle though. As no Marvel Studios picture happens in a vacuum, there were probably some things that needed to change in order to keep continuity flowing. At the same time, the vision of the entire Guardians trilogy has been there since day one.

James Gunn even admitted that when talking about Vol. 3, and how Rocket Raccoon’s secret protagonist status was the glue that held the story together in the end. But of course, even with an idea in mind, getting to the finish line of any epic story has ups and downs.

With that statement in mind, it’s hard to look at one of the best movies of 2023 as anything other than a well crafted finale. And it’s in that light especially that I can totally see why James Gunn was “running out of steam” writing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Much like the twin Avengers movies that closed out The Infinity Saga arc, this was a culmination of a tale that was in the works for almost a decade.

That final piece needed a lot of love and care, otherwise it would have wound up being yet another disappointing third act. And as Mr. Gunn noted, having a diversion like The Suicide Squad did work wonders to a point. Persistence was the key, and in the end even the setbacks paid off.

While some people like to unfairly dump on The Suicide Squad, and/or that time Marvel fired James Gunn, the ensuing chain of events helped wrap up this era of Guardians storytelling. With a heartbreakingly beautiful bow sealing the deal, fans should now be even more thankful that this chapter was allowed to close things off in the most fitting way possible.

Hindsight is 20/20, naturally, so the more we reflect on what Guardians of the Galaxy’s spot in the MCU brought to the table, the clearer the picture becomes. And if you’re feeling a bit nostalgic for Awesome Mixes, snarky comebacks, and Rocket’s evolution into the leader he currently is, you can scratch that itch rather easily. Just use your Disney+ subscription, and the entirety of this storyline will be at your fingertips; no Infinity Stones required!