WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," in theaters now.
As much as audiences may have enjoyed "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" this weekend -- to the tune of $145 million in North America alone -- they were undoubtedly saddened to bid farewell to a beloved supporting player. However, they weren't alone, as writer/director James Gunn and actor Michael Rooker had a tough time saying goodbye, too.
In the Marvel Studios sequel, Rooker's Yondu, Peter Quill's gruff father figure and occasional antagonist, ultimately sacrificed his own life to save that of his adopted son, reminding Star-Lord that Ego "may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy."
“I didn’t want that to be the ending, and I kind of refused to put that in as the ending for a long time. It wasn’t how the movie ended," Gunn told Uproxx, adding, "But, at the end of the day, I knew that’s where it needed to go. I knew that we need to have real stakes in these movies. We need to lose characters. And not everyone who sees Marvel movies loves that."
While the filmmaker noted that the death of a major character is relatively rare within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the loss of Yondu also means heading into "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" without Rooker, with whom he's worked on five films to date. “Michael Rooker is, for all the shit I give him all the time, he’s one of my closest friends in the world,” Gunn said. “I can’t imagine having to make a movie without him.”
But while Rooker didn't relish leaving behind the role, he acknowledge Yondu's death served the story, and allowed the character to exit the stage as a hero. "The hero of the movie ends up being remembered,” he said. “And the hero of the movie ends up being, well – you’re the hero of the movie! You know, they’ve done something! They’ve given up something that most of us would not even come close to having the balls to give up in real life, and in the movies as well.”
In theaters worldwide, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” also stars Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Glenn Close as Irani Rael and Kurt Russell as Ego.