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Guardians Of The Galaxy 4 - Will It Ever Happen?

The Guardians of the Galaxy are some of the most beloved superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having burst onto the big screen in 2014, this group of unlikely superheroes captured hearts with their crazy dance moves and catchy '70s soundtrack. Originally composed of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel), the Guardians have grown and evolved with every MCU appearance. By the time their seventh outing rolled around in 2023's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and Russian Telekinetic space dog Cosmo (Maria Bakalova) had also joined the team.

They returned with James Gunn's signature flair. But, having sculpted the Guardians from the very beginning, the writer-director had a very specific vision for where he wanted them to end up — and when he wanted their team to end. Gunn was pretty clear that he intended for "Vol. 3" to be their swan song. However, there are other factors at play, and the movie ends on a hopeful note. With all the Guardians left alive — albeit on different paths — it's no surprise that viewers are clamoring for another movie. There's certainly room in the ever-expanding MCU for another Guardians adventure in some shape or form. So, let's look at everything that's been said about the franchise so far, and dig into the possibility of whether "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4" will ever happen.

Why isn't Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 happening yet?

With everything that the cast and crew have said, there is no doubt that "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" was the end of an era. Especially since James Gunn literally confirmed it. "This is the end for us ... [Vol. 3 is] the last time people will see this team of Guardians," he said on Deadline's Hero Nation podcast.

So, while still telling a new story and introducing new characters, the movie became a nostalgic and emotional tribute to this team which has been a part of the MCU for close to a decade. And for the cast, it felt like goodbye. In an exclusive interview with GamesRadar+, Chris Pratt explained how this film felt like the fitting conclusion to their franchise. "I really love the idea that 10 years have passed since the first film and fans will have grown up watching these movies ... [so] they've matured alongside the franchise in a way," he explained. "This is an emotional send-off that feels like it's specifically made for them," Pratt added.

However, the interview in which Pratt said this dropped before the release of the movie, which had a post-credits scene confirming his return to the MCU. There are plenty of other Guardians ready to be recalled to hero service, too. But it's only been a few months since the latest installment of the superhero franchise was released, and with a six-year gap between "Vol. 2" and "Vol. 3," it could still be some time before they have another adventure across the galaxy.

Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldaña have closed the door on Marvel

One pretty big setback in teeing up a fourth "Guardians of the Galaxy" film is the fact that two members of the main cast have officially closed the door on the MCU. Dave Bautista has said that after playing Drax for a decade, he will not be back. "With Drax, I just got to end the perfect way. And I would never sign up for another job as Drax just to get a paycheck. I would tarnish that, and I won't do it," Bautista said on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." With that, he's leaving the world of comedic superheroes behind and is off to pursue more dramatic projects.

Zoe Saldaña has also transformed into Gamora for the last time. She has already played the character longer than she intended, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she expected James Gunn to kill her off during "Vol. 2." So after five outings as Zehoberei, Saldaña is done. "I don't think this is the end for the Guardians. It is the end for me, for Gamora," she said.

But both Bautista and Saldaña's goodbye statements share the same sentiment: This is not the end for the Guardians — just the end of the version we've come to know. It's certainly possible that Drax and Gamora could be recast if the Guardians return since they weren't killed off. But it's more likely that Marvel would find a way to continue on without them.

Do Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff have a future in the MCU?

Unlike Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldaña, Gillan and Pom Klementieff have not ruled out returning to the MCU. But they don't know where they stand with the future of the franchise — or if it is moving forward. Back in 2022, Karen Gillan shared a sweet tribute to her character Nebula on Instagram after filming for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" ended. But her post made it clear her future in the MCU is up in the air. "I don't know if Nebula will return beyond this, it's possible that this is her final chapter," Gillan wrote before turning thanks to James Gunn. "I have enjoyed this exploration more than any other character I've played. That was one hell of a decade. Thanks for watching," she concluded.

Klementieff also hasn't ruled out a return to the MCU in the same way as Bautista or Saldaña, but she has acknowledged that it would be different going forward. "I can't imagine playing Mantis with someone else writing the words," she said to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Vol. 3" left Nebula putting down roots on Knowhere, while Klementieff's Mantis has spread her wings with the three Abilisk beasts she befriended. It would certainly be easy enough to have her return to Knowhere so the pair could team up again, or alternatively, she could pay her brother Star-Lord a visit. However, their comments suggest that they've thus far not been approached about a future "Guardians" project.

The legendary Star-Lord will return

Prior to the release of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" Pratt told GamesRadar+ that he was open to returning to the MCU as Star-Lord. The movie's post-credits scene then confirmed that this would definitely be happening. In the interview, he stressed how important it would be to honor James Gunn's legacy moving forward, so we know that any future project will (hopefully) still have the same spirit that makes "Guardians" so unique.

Pratt also noted that it would be important "to honor what the fans have grown to love about the character and not simply do it because people might show up to pay for it." So, we know he wants to tell another fun, authentic story with his character, and the post-credits scene was a pretty big hint at what this would look like. Now back on Earth with his grandfather for the first time in decades, Star-Lord could be swapping space superhero-ing for adventures on Earth. It's not yet been announced what form this new adventure might take or if he'll be joined by any of the Guardians. Given the increase in the MCU's release of TV content since "WandaVision," it's possible Pratt could get a limited series on Disney+. Or he could be called by his fellow Earth-dwelling pals to help in "The Avengers: Kang Dynasty."

Who would star in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4?

While "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" may have been the end of the road for some of the cast, the movie also paved the way for a new team of Guardians to continue their legacy. The mid-credits scene introduces that new team, which includes the original Guardians Rocket and Groot. They are joined by Kraglin and Cosmo, as well as Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) and Phyla-Vell (Kai Zen).

Poulter's character, who was first mentioned in "Vol. 2", was designed by the Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) to kill the Guardians, after which he was newly hatched from his cocoon prior to the start of the film. "He's definitely not a good guy ... he does not understand life very well. He's basically a baby," Poulter teased to Empire ahead of his MCU debut. However, Adam completely transforms during the course of the film (with the help of his pet Blurp) from villain to hero, making him a perfect addition to Guardians' ranks.

Kai Zen's character Phyla also makes her debut in the 2023 movie. Though created by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) as a weapon, Phyla turns against him and helps the Guardians rescue the caged children on his ship. While not too much is known about Phyla, since her role in the MCU is pretty different from her comic book origins, Rocket obviously recruits her for the team after witnessing her fight to keep the galaxy safe.

James Gunn made the move to DC

Without James Gunn, the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them would not exist. And the "Guardians" cast has showered him with nothing but praise for creating such humorous but compelling characters for them. But, at a certain point, the writer and director had to move on to other things, taking one of the top jobs at DC Studios back in 2022.

As it turns out, this timed out perfectly with his commitment to "Guardians," since Gunn always planned for their adventure to end once they had their own trilogy. He confirmed this during an Instagram Q&A (via CBR), writing, "I planned to do a trilogy from the beginning if the first one worked," he wrote, but added, "I have no plans to do a 4th."

Obviously, Gunn's departure complicates the future of the "Guardians" franchise, and the cast that he's worked with has a lot of loyalty to him. For his part, he hopes to work with them again in the future, but on DC projects. Pom Klementieff told The Hollywood Reporter that she and Gunn have started discussions. At first glance, this might not bode well for the future of the MCU franchise, but it's more than likely that any "Guardians" stars Marvel is considering bringing back will have non-compete clauses, so this may not actually happen.

But he left the door open for someone else to take over

Don't start fretting that James Gunn is going to start luring all of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" cast away to DC one by one, though. The writer-director is obviously proud of the trilogy he made and the legacy he's left at Marvel — and he believes that the franchise he built can live on without him.

Gunn told Esquire Middle East that he's given Marvel his blessing to continue "Guardians" without him. "I think as long as somebody brings themselves to it, and doesn't just try to copy that style — I think it can be really amazing. And there's so many directors I would like to do that. And I would love to see it happen," he said.

This is obviously a pretty big endorsement from Gunn to have someone else take over the franchise, explicitly confirming that "Guardians of the Galaxy" does not live and die with him at the helm.

What could Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 be about?

For "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4" to happen, there would have to be an exciting storyline to draw in viewers. This could be the return of the High Evolutionary, who we learn is not actually dead at the end of Vol. 3. He may escape his prison on Knowhere to wreak destruction once again.

However, it's more likely that along with some new cast members, "Vol. 4" would have new plotlines to keep viewers entertained. One of them would be seeing how the new team works together under Rocket's leadership while battling threats across the galaxy.

Some comic book storylines could translate to the big screen too. The new Guardians could come face to face with villains like the Universal Church, a religious empire connected to Adam Warlock, which seeks to indoctrinate the entire universe. Alternatively, they may face the Shi'ar Empire, a fictional species of aliens who, alongside Skrulls and the Kree, are one of the three main extraterrestrial empires from Marvel Comics. They have yet to be introduced in the MCU, so "Guardians Vol. 4" could do just that.

Other MCU characters got a fourth film

Some MCU superheroes, like Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, concluded their run after three of their own movies (and several ensemble adventures). But, it's not a tried-and-true formula. For instance, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow only got one standalone feature, while others got more.

Chris Hemsworth's Thor returned for a fourth outing (initially accompanied by the Guardians) in "Thor: Love and Thunder." And Marvel is reinventing the Captain America franchise with the 2024 film "Captain America: Brave New World." The film follows on from the events in the Disney+ series "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and sees Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) continuing the legacy of Chris Evans' character.

"Spider-Man" star Tom Holland is also slated to be getting another chance to play the famous web-slinger after the success of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." So there's clearly a precedent for MCU characters to go on to star in a fourth feature film, and it's definitely not off the table for the Guardians.

Financially it makes sense

Box office success is a pretty big motivator for Marvel, since the MCU is a multi-billion dollar franchise. In fact, it's the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, with many of its titles, including the "Avengers" movies and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," raking in over $1.4 billion worldwide. But each movie costs a lot to make. It's possible that Marvel boss Kevin Feige was waiting to see how "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" performed before committing to another feature film — but the numbers speak for themselves.

"Guardians" is one of the top-grossing franchises within the MCU. "Vol. 3" made $844.6 million worldwide, which is slightly less than "Vol. 2"'s $869 million, but much more than "Vol. 1"'s $770.8 million. But even "Vol. 1" comes in as the 16th highest-grossing MCU film before "Vol. 3" was released. So, based on these numbers, it definitely makes financial sense for Marvel to make "Vol. 4" at some point in the future.

When could Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 happen?

It seems that James Gunn's comments were true, and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is the last we will see of this iteration of Guardians together as we know them. But that definitely doesn't mean all hope is lost for the franchise. With Chris Pratt said to return to the MCU, other stars could follow suit — or more likely, we'll see the franchise reinvented with Rocket's team.

As for when this might happen, you should know it won't be anytime soon. Since it's not announced as part of Phase 6, we wouldn't see "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4" before summer 2027, which is when "Avengers: Secret Wars" is due for release. That's unless Marvel already has something in the works and plans to sneak it in, but that seems unlikely. Getting the cast together to film something so soon after "Vol. 3" would also be difficult. But if "Vol. 4" does happen and Pratt is involved, filming couldn't begin until 2024, as he has projects like "The Electric State" keeping him busy. Likewise, Bradley Cooper, Maria Baklava, and Vin Diesel all have projects in pre-production that will have them tied up for the foreseeable future.

But, while there's nothing lined up on the MCU's upcoming slate, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4" is not dead in the water already. We may get to see these heroes again — after all, the galaxy still needs its Guardians.