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Here's Why James Gunn Just Promised This Beloved MCU Character Will Stay Dead

Comic books are notorious for bringing characters back from the dead, and movies based on comic books have been known to follow suit (think Superman and Loki). While it's always nice to see fan favorites return, knowing that superhero movie deaths are often easily undone makes them meaningless. And that's exactly why director James Gunn has vowed that Yondu will stay dead in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies as long as he is at the helm of the franchise.

It would be totally understandable if Gunn was tempted to resurrect Yondu. As played by Michael Rooker, the whistling Ravager is a charismatic, funny character who plays off each of the Guardians in a unique way. Alas, Yondu memorably sacrificed himself to save his adopted son Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and as far as Gunn is concerned, the moment is too beautiful to cheapen by finding a loophole that would allow Rooker's beloved character to return. 

When a fan on Twitter suggested that Yondu's return was inevitable since comic book character deaths rarely stick, Gunn quickly shut that thinking down. "I get sometimes you can bring back characters in a cool way," he tweeted in response. "But usually, if a character dies, & it's a meaningful part of the story, the character should stay dead. So unless it's a flashback, Yondu will stay dead, as far as I'm concerned. Otherwise, it ruins his sacrifice."

Michael Rooker is just as adamant about Yondu staying dead in the Guardians of the Galaxy universe as Gunn is

Sacrificing himself for Peter allowed Yondu to complete his character arc in a way that was powerful for him and for the man he considered to be his son. For Yondu, it was proof that he was fully capable of not only loving another person, but demonstrating that love without shame. As a former slave, most of his life was about surviving at any cost, and to ensure his position as the leader of the Ravagers wasn't challenged, he was always careful not to show any sign of weakness. That made the vulnerability he showed in his final moments all the more beautiful.

As for Peter, he grew up longing for a father, and it was only through Yondu's sacrifice that he realized he had a dad all along — an unconventional one, for sure, but someone who loved him in a way that his biological father, the self-serving Ego, never could. For Rooker, the completion of Yondu's story means far too much to his character and to Peter's for him to be okay with it being undone.

In an April 2020 episode of the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum podcast, Rooker shared that he was proud of the way Yondu's story came to an end. "Yondu had a wonderful, amazing sendoff that you would ever want in cinematic Marvel history. My god, dude, why do you want to spoil that by bringing the character back now?" he asked. "There's consequences when you die, you're supposed to stay dead."

Have fans really seen the last of Yondu in the MCU?

Both Gunn and Rooker are adamant about Yondu staying dead, but there is one loophole that could lead to the character reappearing in the MCU: flashbacks. Going into the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Peter will have lost three important people in his life: his mom, the Gamora he fell in love with, and Yondu. It's entirely possible this will lead to him reminiscing about his adopted dad during a pivotal moment, and give viewers one last glimpse of the lovable rogue Ravager in the process.

But even if Yondu doesn't appear in any flashbacks, the character's importance in the Guardians of the Galaxy universe has been solidified. His sacrifice won't be forgotten by the fans or by the heroes that he saved. And hey, on the upside, Rooker and Gunn are continuing their collaboration in the next Suicide Squad movie, ensuring that the talented actor remains a fixture in comic book movies for years to come.