Illustration by team illustrator Sakura Siegel.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” released on May 5 and will most likely be James Gunn’s final entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Despite the existence of “superhero fatigue,” fans and critics have praised Gunn for creating one of the most developed trilogies in the MCU. 

 

Gunn was named one of the co-chairman and co-CEO of DC Studios in October 2022. The “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy almost never happened because he was actually fired by Marvel Studios in July 2018 for controversial tweets he had made in the past. 

Rival DC Studios then hired Gunn in October 2018, where he would write and direct the soft reboot of “The Suicide Squad” as well as the spin-off tv series “Peacemaker.” Gunn would be rehired by Marvel Studios in March 2019, in large part due to Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast. But with Gunn now the head of DC Studios, he leaves behind one of the more beloved MCU trilogies.

The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” released in August 2014, and at the end of its theatrical run grossed $773 million.This was a surprise to many because “Guardians” did not have the big names that some of the other MCU films had.

The cast of the film just worked well with each other, despite some skepticism heading into the movie. 

Chris Pratt, who was most known for his role of Andy on the TV show “Parks and Recreation” plays Peter Quill/Star-Lord. Dave Bautista, who was most known for wrestling in the WWE, plays Drax the Destroyer. The other main cast includes Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Vin Diesel, who voices a talking tree, Groot, and Bradley Cooper, who voices a talking raccoon, Rocket. 

A Different Feeling

The feel of “Guardians of the Galaxy” felt different than other MCU films of the time, and that is due to the writing by Gunn. Perhaps, maybe the most memorable part of this film was the soundtrack that accompanies the film. 

Quill has a Sony Walkman, and listens to music during many – if not all – fights and missions. The music chosen for the film was from the 1970s, which may also resonate with audience of a certain age. Songs such as “Come and Get Your Love,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “I Want You Back,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” were just some of the many songs in the film that make it so memorable. 

The success of the first film led to the sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which was released in May 2017. The movie was even more successful than its predecessor, opening with $145 million in its opening weekend in the United States alone, ending its theatrical run with $869 million.

(Courtesy of ScreenCrush)

Marvel Studios was prepared to make a third “Guardians” film without Gunn, but the cast was very vocal of not wanting to work for anyone but Gunn.

Gunn was hired by DC Studios and would end up writing and directing the 2021 film “The Suicide Squad.” The previous iteration in 2016 “Suicide Squad” was seen both as a critical and commercial failure. 

One of the few holdovers for Gunn’s version of the film was fan-favorite Haley Quinn portrayed by Margot Robbie. DC Studios hired Gunn with the hope of being able to market DC’s lesser known characters, due to his previous success with the MCU’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. 

Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” released in August 2021 simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max, and was the film was much better critically received than the 2016 film, but still not even close to being as successful as the “Guardians” film. 

What could be a factor is that the movie industry was trying to navigate the effects of the 2020 global pandemic. One success with critics was spin-off tv show “Peacemaker,” which starred John Cena and was written by Gunn.

Gunn was officially rehired in March 2019 and would finish “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” after he was done with his work with DC Studios. 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” brought in $118 million domestically on its opening weekend. At the time that this was published, the film has now earned $780 million worldwide.

Superheroes In Hollywood

The movie is beloved by critics and fans. Perhaps part of the lower-than-expected opening is due to the recent superhero fatigue that may be creeping up. Gunn commented on this issue and said if the stories are good enough, people will still watch. 

“I think there is such a thing as superhero fatigue,” Gunn told Rolling Stone. “I think it doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes.

“… If it becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen, it gets really boring,” he continued. “But I get fatigued by most spectacle films, by the grind of not having an emotionally grounded story. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re superhero movies or not.

“If you don’t have a story at the base of it, just watching things bash each other, no matter how clever those bashing moments are, no matter how clever the designs and the VFX are, it just gets fatiguing, and I think that’s very, very real.”

(Courtesy of Digital Spy)

While superhero adaptations are slightly lower than usual, a good majority do better financially than any film in Hollywood still.

What is for sure is that this is the final version of this Guardians of the Galaxy team. Saldana had said she was done playing Gamora, this was the same for Bautista playing Drax. 

As the new head of DC Studios, Gunn has announced new movie projects he would be overseeing, including writing and directing a Superman reboot. There are still possibilities of different teams of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and possible appearances within the MCU, but the trilogy marks the end of Gunn’s time within the MCU, with no sign of him returning in the foreseeable future, due to his commitments at DC Studios. 

Because of Gunn’s creativity, and writing, maybe DC Studios will be able to have similar success as its Marvel Studios counterparts. 

Gunn’s “The Flash” hits theaters on June 16.  

 

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