James Gunn has left an indelible stamp on the MCU with his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. Currently finishing pre-production work on the third movie in the series, Gunn had previously stated this would be his last movie in the MCU. During a recent Q&A on Instagram, the filmmaker reiterated that sentiment, but hinted new movies in the franchise could still be made with a different roster of superheroes. He says this about a possible Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4.
"It's probably my last one, and the last one with the current team. But you never know!"
For diehard MCU fans, the thought of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie without Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Mantis, Nebula, or Groot would be unthinkable. But superhero teams in comics have a constantly changing roster where heroes are dropped and added to the lineup every few months.
In fact, the original Guardians of the Galaxy comics created in 1969 had an entirely different roster, consisting of Major Victory, Yondu, Replica, Talon, Yellowjacket, Nikki, Starhawk, and Martinex. Even the modern incarnation of the team from the comics has heroes that never appear in the movies, including Adam Warlock, Moondragon, and Quasar.
So it is entirely possible for there to be a Guardians of the Galaxy movie not featuring the characters that appear in James Gunn trilogy of the franchise. The real challenge will be to provide a fitting end to the present team members.
All the main characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies had had significant character development across multiple appearances in the MCU. Star-Lord has learned to make peace with the fact that he was abandoned by his father at a young age.
Drax has avenged his family's death by contributing to the demise of Thanos. Before her death, Gamora learned to let go of her assassin's past and learn to love her teammates like a new family. Nebula made peace with her sister. Mantis escaped captivity on Ego's planet and found friends who truly care for her. Groot has literally grown from a sapling to a moody teen, to a true hero.
Rocket is the character with probably the most character growth. He went from being a complete outsider with severe trust issues to someone who is comfortable in his own skin and sees the value in fighting to preserve life throughout the universe instead of only being concerned with saving his own skin.
With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn will attempt to bring all these different character arcs to a satisfying conclusion. After that, the stage will be set for a new team of heroes to lay claim to the title of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. There are already a couple of names floating around that could be added to the new team, namely Captain Marvel, who is basically a solo universal superhero already, and Adam Warlock, whose arrival was teased at the end of the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This news was given to us by James Gunn.