In a move which surprised utterly no one, James Gunn announced today that he is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to direct and write the third installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, the second of which opens in theaters the first weekend of May. Unlike a usual announcement, which would come from the higher-ups at Marvel, Gunn announced the news himself on his Facebook page, revealing the news to millions of fans who, like myself, were unsurprised at this news.
Marvel (and by proxy, Disney) has proven time and time again that they don’t when to quit, so at this point I have the expectation that they will not quit, regardless of where their storylines go. Gunn mentions in his post that the Marvel Universe has been leading up to Infinity War, in which the Guardians of the Galaxy will appear. Speculation about the nature of their appearance has run rampant both before and after Marvel confirmed they would be in the film, yet these preemptive announcements take a little bit out of the excitement of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, at least for me. I will, of course, go into Vol. 2 with the assumption that no real threat will befall our heroes and that they will survive for the events of Infinity War, but I have no idea what to expect from the latter film. Although Marvel hasn’t been known for killing their main characters, or even changing them significantly from one film to another, their persistence that Infinity War is some kind of end-of-the-road film where all bets are off creates a new kind of hype surrounding that film. Anything could seemingly happen in that two-parter, the first part hitting theaters next summer, but now, with this confirmation of Guardians 3, we can safely assume that those characters will make it through the world-defining Infinity War struggle unscathed.
Herein lies my biggest problem with Disney/Marvel. Although superhero fatigue has set in–many of their films have failed to reach the levels of their predecessors–Marvel continues to announce an onslaught of further and further productions. Last week, news popped up that Disney also does not have an end for the Star Wars franchise in sight, although the ninth episode and conclusion of The Force Awakens trilogy will bow in 2019. The money will continue to roll into the pockets of Disney executives and the studio will pump out further and further adaptations and sequels.
Still, James Gunn expresses desire in his Facebook post that the this iteration of the Guardians will end with the third installment. On one hand, I have absolute faith that Gunn will handle these unique characters with ease and end their story appropriately. On the other hand, I fully expect Disney to announce a new iteration of the series soon after. This is the company which has given the world three Spider-Man series in 15 years, after all.