Now that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has hit theaters, there’s naturally plenty of speculation about whether a fourth movie is in the offing. Given how successful the first three installments have been, it seems only natural that a fourth film would be in the works. After all, Hollywood loves to run with something until everyone is totally exhausted by it.
In the case of the Guardians movies, though, it might make more sense to just let them go. The only other MCU fourquel, Thor: Love and Thunder, was met with critical derision and stifled yawns from the audience, killing whatever goodwill the character had accumulated from the previous movie, Thor: Ragnarok. But that’s just one of many reasons why Marvel should never make a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4.
Warning: Spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 below.
If you’ve seen the third Guardians, you’re likely aware that the movie concludes with the Guardians effectively disbanding to go their separate ways. Peter returns to Earth to see his grandpa, Mantis decides to go off on her own, and Nebula and Drax stay on Knowhere to begin rebuilding it. Rocket and Groot remain Guardians, and they’re joined by Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock and his pet, Blurp (one of the children they saved from the High Evolutionary), Kraglin, and Cosmo the space dog.
If a new Guardians movie were to come out, it would likely follow some version of these characters. That might be fun, but it would also feel a bit like a betrayal. Inside of the MCU, there are very few films or film series that feel personal. James Gunn managed to buck that trend with these Guardians films, making them far more colorful and idiosyncratic than the average Marvel fare. Gunn has already made it clear that he’s done with the Guardians, and the end of his run with these characters should be the end of their story.
There are certainly plenty of competent directors in the MCU, but Gunn has such a firm feel on each of these characters that he insisted on writing for them even in movies that he didn’t direct. More than any other characters in this universe, the Guardians are his, which is part of the reason the movies have so little overlap with the rest of the universe. They exist in their own special corner, and they should be allowed to stay there.
As many people have remarked in the aftermath of Guardians Vol. 3, these movies stuck the landing and have formed MCU’s first satisfactory trilogy. Each chapter is fulfilling in its own ways, and the way that it wraps up gives every character a fulfilling ending. Many of these characters will likely be brought back into the MCU at some point or another. That’s just the nature of this universe or, more honestly, show business. The Guardians title, though, should wrap up with this third installment. It’s fine if there’s a solo Star-Lord movie with Chris Pratt or a Disney+ Ravagers series with Sylvester Stallone, but the Guardians as a team should be retired for good.
There’s definitely a fairly high percentage chance that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 will happen. As almost all of Phase 4 indicated, Marvel isn’t exactly in the habit of quitting while it’s ahead. If it does happen, though, those who loved the first three films should remember that, whatever shape it may take, it doesn’t have to undercut what came before it.
Fundamentally, the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are about a group of oddball friends who team up to become better people. That was Gunn’s story, and he got to send it off exactly the way he wanted to. Will we miss Rocket, Star-Lord, and everyone else in the crew? Absolutely. But a thing is not beautiful because it lasts.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters. Also check out DT’s articles on why the Guardians movies never needed the MCU to be successful, 5 reasons why the Guardians of the Galaxy video game is better than Vol. 3, and the best characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, ranked.
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