Last week, fans were surprised to learn that Avengers: Endgame had begunn a new round of reshoots. While all major Hollywood films have additional filming planned in advance of production, the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film had already concluded a lengthy period of additional photography from September to October last year. Even more intriguing, the latest reshoots involve Guardians of the Galaxy characters Gamora and Nebula, as revealed through social media posts by actors Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan. The particular emphasis on both characters in the late-stage filming suggests that Marvel Studios may be positioning the property for an eagerly anticipated third installment, just months after the project was taken off the studio's production calendar.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 has had a publicly troubled production history behind-the-scenes after filmmaker James Gunn was removed from the project this past July after offensive tweets resurfaced online. While not officially announced, the film was widely reported to begin principal photography this month as confirmed by several members of its principal cast for a 2020 premiere. Despite being removed from the MCU's production slate, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed earlier this month that the film is still planned for some time in the future, though Marvel is keeping details about the production under wraps.
That Gamora will be among those heroes to return after meeting her untimely demise at Thanos' hands in Avengers: Infinity War isn't an entirely surprising one, despite having been killed before the climactic snap wiped out half of all life in the universe. Her resurrection will likely affect the Guardians of the Galaxy in a big way, providing the team with a new sense of direction post-Avengers: Endgame. More telling, Saldana's caption in her social media post strongly hinted that she is not done portraying the MCU character.
Gillan's own social media post was more ominous, alluding that she may be done playing Nebula after Endgame. The death of Gamora's adopted sister would certainly inform Saldana's character moving forward and affect the team's internal dynamics, as well as her relationship with Star-Lord. While Gillan had earlier claimed to have read a complete script written by Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, that does not guarantee a potential appearance in an eventual sequel, or Marvel Studios changing its plans.
So what of the future for the Guardians on the big screen? While promoting his latest film, Vice, filmmaker and Ant-Man co-writer Adam McKay revealed he had been approached to replace Gunn in helming a third Guardians film, an offer he ultimately turned down.
For the time being, the studio appears focused on promoting its upcoming offerings including Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Both the Eternals and Black Widow films are expected to begin principal photography this year, while filmmaker Scott Derrickson has reportedly signed on to direct a sequel to Doctor Strange, with principal photography expected to begin in 2020. McKay's comments indicate that an active search to replace Gunn by Marvel Studios is well underway, though a director will likely not be formally announced in the near future.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 had established plenty of potential directions for a sequel to explore, including introducing a new team of Ravagers led by Sylvester Stallone, and teasing the eventual MCU debut of Adam Warlock as an entity controlled by the Sovereign to hunt down the Guardians for past transgressions. While it is unclear how much of Gunn's vision for a third installment will make it to the big screen, the recent round of reshoots involving at least two of the Guardians indicate Marvel Studios is still strongly committed to the cinematic future of the property and its characters.
The Guardians of the Galaxy may have endured heavy losses in Infinity War, but they are likely to return in a big way by the conclusion of Endgame, with much, if not all of their roster surely restored. With Thanos' eventual defeat something of an inevitability, the team will be shaped by the fall of Gamora and Nebula's adopted father and their own team-up with the Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 may be delayed, but the clues for their return will be revealed in a matter of months.
Avengers: Endgame will arrive on April 26. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the film stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie.