With the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special next year and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2023, Marvel is reintroducing its most eccentric franchise into intergalactic combat. The last project may be the final time all Guardians appear on-screen together, with some characters rumored to die in the threequel. Fans should not be surprised, according to one of the film’s stars.
In a recent interview on The Ellen Show, actor Dave Bautista, who plays Drax the Destroyer in the films, stated that he intends to leave the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Bautista also stated that he assumed fans knew the film would be his last because writer-director James Gunn has previously stated that he intends to end his involvement with the franchise after Vol. 3.
Part of the actor’s desire to stop playing Drax stems from the role’s intense physical demands. He explained: “I’ve been doing interviews and talking a lot about Guardians, and I didn’t expect it to be news because I assumed everyone assumed this is how it works. We work in trilogies, and James Gunn has already stated that this will be his final film, so when James is done, I’m done. And I’ll be 54 years old by the time Guardians 3 comes out, and the shirtless thing is becoming increasingly difficult for me. The journey has come full circle, and I’m ready to step back and finish it.”
Bautista’s remarks highlight a significant issue within the MCU, which will only worsen as the franchise expands in seemingly infinite directions.
How does the studio communicate to viewers which stories are more limited than others in a franchise that shows no signs of ever genuinely ending?
The majority of Hollywood franchises tell their stories in trilogies, with distinct beginnings and endings. That has been the problem for decades in the industry, and Marvel appears to have followed the rule of three with its Iron Man film series. Bautista is correct in that most audiences expect the third film in a franchise to bring any overarching story to a grand conclusion.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not your typical Hollywood franchise. None of Marvel’s standalone series, nor the MCU as a whole, are necessarily intended to conclude after three installments. Even now, the studio is hard at work filming the fourth Thor film, developing a fourth Captain America film, and ushering the MCU into its fourth overall phase.
With that in mind, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may not conclude the team’s ongoing story in the MCU. However, Gunn’s plan to end his version of the Guardians’ story will make Vol. 3 feel particularly unique to fans.
It’s essential to note that no one knows what the future holds for Bautista, Gunn, and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Either the actor or his writer-director may reconsider after Vol. 3 and return for another Marvel project. If that does not happen, the studio may decide to continue the Guardians franchise with a new creative team.
However, suppose Vol. 3 marks the end of the line for at least this incarnation of the series. In that case, it may become one of MCU’s only franchises to follow Hollywood’s long-established trilogy tradition.
In the end, only time will tell. Maybe all Marvel needs to do after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is give Drax a shirt to keep Bautista around.
He’d more than earned it.