After two massive hit films, one might think coming back for a third would be a no-brainer. But that wasn’t the case with James Gunn. The writer/director of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films recently revealed the reason why he almost didn’t come back for Vol. 3—but if you haven’t seen Vol. 2 yet, you should probably leave this a mystery for now.
During a spoiler-filled Facebook Q&A Sunday, Gunn revealed he almost didn’t come back because of his decision to kill Peter’s foster father and leader of the Ravagers, Yondu (played by Michael Rooker).
Let me tell you, there was nothing harder for me than the choice to kill Yondu in this movie. Michael Rooker, for all the crap I give him, is one of my closest friends in the world and the last thing I wanted to do was to make a movie without Michael Rooker in the future. I almost didn’t do Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 because there was no Michael Rooker in it and I couldn’t see making the movie without him. He means that much to me and I love him that much.
[Killing Yondu was] the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make from a storytelling perspective. I wrote a bunch of treatments where Yondu did not die. There were other endings — he was saved at the last minute after taking the sacrificial stance, and I wrote many drafts like that. And I realized I was being dishonest. That was not what this story was. For me, the most important thing in making a movie is to tell the truest and most honest story possible, and that’s whether you’re making a $500,000 indie film or a $200 million dollar spectacle film. And the truth of this story, this was about a father’s true and ultimate love for his son. This is a movie about, Who really are our fathers? Who really are our siblings? And the only way for it to be an honest story was for Yondu to die, and anything else would have been half measures, and would have been me backing out because I was afraid to tell the truth. And so that’s why Yondu dies.
You can watch the full, hour plus Q&A below.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now in theaters. Vol. 3 has a ways to go.