The start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 5 will finally give us the third and final James Gunn-directed entry of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’ll be the end of an era for one of Marvel’s most popular teams. The film is bound to have an emotional resolution for various characters, one of which will be the Bradley Cooper-voiced Rocket Raccoon. While in an interview with the Phase Zero podcast, James Gunn confirmed this to be the case. The director discussed how Vol. 3 will focus on the origins of the animal and how that plays into the end of this saga.
It tells this story about Rocket and where he came from and where he’s going, and how that ties into everybody else, and the end of this iteration of The Guardians.James Gunn
After being a seminal part of this universe, it’s fitting that the Guardians of the Galaxy would take a turn for the emotional heading into the ending of their trilogy. And the story of Rocket Raccoon appears in line to be the main arc of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3, especially with the casting of Chukwudi Iwuji as the main antagonist in the High Evolutionary. And having seen the initial trailer for the film at San Diego Comic Con this year, this author can confirm the film will be leaning heavily into more serious themes while wrapping up the stories of these characters.
The concept of weight-filled emotional themes was prevalent on the mind of James Gunn while in production for Vol. 3. And it’s why he found special solace in producing the more light-hearted Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in tandem with the Marvel Studios feature film. This is what the director had to say about balancing the two tonally different projects at the same time.
Doing this goofy thing like once every four days, and then going and shooting four days of Guardians Vol. 3, and then going back, it almost created a lot of whiplash. But it was also almost like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special days were like snow days, you know? Those were the… that was recess. That was fun!James Gunn
In addition, James Gunn confirmed that he considers The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special to be “required watching” in order to best experience Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 this coming May. Gunn elaborates on concepts that will be introduced for the team and how the short film allowed him to spend less time on exposition in the first act of the feature film.
People should see the Holiday Special. You’re obviously gonna learn a lot about where the Guardians have been in the past few years. You know, you’re gonna see how they now inhabit Knowhere. They’ve got a new ship called the Bowie. They’ve got a dog [who] is part of their crew now who has telekinesis named Cosmo. So where you get to learn all that, and then there’s a couple of bigger pieces of spoiler-y lore. You’re gonna learn all of those things. In a way, the Holiday Special was a Trojan Horse for me to sneak in stuff that becomes important in Volume 3, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time at the beginning of that movie explaining it.James Gunn
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special releases on Disney+ on November 25. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 releases exclusively in theaters of May 5, 2023.