The other space boot has dropped.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been put on hold with its skeleton crew being told to find other work. The news is not unexpected as the termination of director James Gunn put Marvel Studios’ schedule into disarray. The production was expected to begin later this year or early next with an unofficial release date penned in for November of 2019, making it the second Phase 4 film after Spider-Man: Far From Home.
But Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn’s decision to fire Gunn after extremist right-wing websites reminded the world about Gunn’s edgelord postings in the early days of Twitter means Marvel must search for a director to take over the center seat. Searching for that person will not be easy and most assume the replacement director will also want to redraft Gunn’s script. All of which means preproduction cannot being until the new director signs on and the likelihood of Vol. 3 hitting a 2019 release has been shattered.
As THR points out, the replacement director will take on an unenviable task of bringing to a close Gunn’s loose three-volume story while making a film that will appease studio bosses and the die-hard fans of the series who definitely feel Gunn was mistreated. The site suggests Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi may have met to discuss picking up the reins — he may be someone who can transition into Guardians with ease and fan approval — but cannot confirm that was the focus of recent discussions between the filmmaker and Marvel. But even if Waititi were to sign on to Vol. 3 in the near future, it completely changes Marvel’s release calendar.
What still remains unclear is Gunn’s intended role in fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vol 3. was intended to set up a number of cosmic happenings which would reverberate throughout the Phase 4 the films. There were also plans for Gunn to curate the stories taking place in space. While there have been indications he will be welcomed back into the Marvel Studios fold at some point, it seems unlikely it will happen until Horn retires. In the meantime, the cosmic focus of the MCU may also be put on hold.