Though the level of success Guardians of the Galaxy experienced when it debuted in 2014 was a surprise, there's no question writer/director James Gunn has since gone on to help shape and define the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its current form. But while Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige previously indicated the director might have a bigger role in the MCU following Avengers 4, Gunn has found himself fired following the resurfacing of offensive jokes and comments he made in the past on pedophilia and rape.
It's too soon to tell exactly how Gunn's firing will affect the MCU, but there are a lot of possibilities to think about when considering how the move might alter the blockbuster film universe's future.
What Will Happen to the Guardians of the Galaxy?
In 2017, Gunn noted the three Guardians of the Galaxy films were designed to "tell one story" and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would also help start a "new story" following Avengers 4. The third film, for which Gunn recently completed the first draft, was meant to be a major part of the MCU's next phase, which seems to be venturing more into the cosmic realm Gunn helped pioneer.
It's currently unknown whether Marvel Studios will keep any of Gunn's draft for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 intact. Even if the studio does use it as a starting point, revisions are common in the scriptwriting process. Depending on what happens going forward, those changes may significantly veer away from Gunn's ideas, thus altering his original vision for the trilogy and its characters, though Marvel will do its best to ensure the film doesn't damage any future plans for the MCU as a whole. Still, Marvel was setting Gunn up as the MCU's next big visionary, so his firing will certainly result in a markedly different Phase 4 than we would have otherwise seen.
The success, or lack thereof, of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could also affect the future of the film's characters. An all-new, all-different director may be off-putting for fans of Gunn's particular style and vision; some may even avoid the film due to Gunn's departure. There's a legitimate chance the next film in the trilogy might not live up to the expectations set by its well-liked predecessors, which could affect the film's critical reviews. As Marvel has had a run of incredibly successful superhero films lately, the studio is more likely to focus on new films and characters than a floundering series. A poor performance could conceivably lead to the individual Guardians having a decreased role in the MCU's future, especially considering plans for the next film reportedly included the end of this current iteration of the team.