Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are going to see a lot of the Guardians of the Galaxy over the next 12 months. The iconic MCU team is set to appear in this summer’s Thor: Love and Thunder before leading their own adventure in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. After that, the team will return to the big screen in May 2023 for their third solo outing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
That’s a lot of Guardians-centric content for Marvel Studios to release in less than one year’s time. However, it sounds like comic book fans should treasure every appearance from the team, because it’s looking like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the last time MCU viewers can expect to see the Guardians assembled together.
The End of an Era — On Twitter, director James Gunn recently confirmed that principal photography for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has wrapped. In the wake of that, several of the film’s stars have taken to social media to express their feelings about making Vol. 3.
That includes Dave Bautista, who recently posted a bittersweet message about finishing his work on Vol. 3. On his Instagram, the actor wrote, “Haven’t found the words yet. It ended so suddenly and I was on to my next film before I could process it all. End of a journey that changed my life.”
The caption, while brief, continues to set up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as the film that will likely mark the last time MCU fans get to see Bautista as Drax the Destroyer.
Drax’s Swan Song — Dave Bautista has been hinting since May 2021 that he’ll be stepping away from his MCU role after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and everything that’s been revealed about the highly anticipated MCU sequel since then has only further fed into fans’ belief that Vol. 3 will say goodbye to Bautista’s Drax. Whether the film does that by knocking him off or just by sending him into retirement remains to be seen.
Drax isn’t the only member of the Guardians whose time in the MCU is expected to come to an end, as James Gunn has hinted that the film will mark the last time the current version of the Guardians will appear together in the MCU. In fact, Nebula actor Karen Gillan recently revealed that she doesn’t know if her Guardians character will return after Vol. 3, writing on Instagram that it’s “possible that this is her final chapter.”
Knowing Marvel, it seems highly unlikely that the studio will let a lucrative franchise like the Guardians series come to a permanent end anytime soon. But even if Marvel does eventually release a fourth Guardians film, it seems safe to say that it won’t be written or directed by James Gunn, and won’t feature a number of the series’ original stars.
The Inverse Analysis — Right now, the MCU is expanding at a faster rate than ever before. That’s resulted in the MCU reaching an interesting point in its narrative where it can stand to lose a few characters. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 promises to remove at least a few names from the MCU’s increasingly bloated roster, including Bautista’s Drax.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be released in theaters on May 5, 2023.