Karen Gillan Says Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 'Wouldn't Have Felt Right' Without James Gunn

It's a common tale in Hollywood: A scrappy filmmaker has only just begun to make a name for themselves with their low-budget movies or TV shows when they're swept up by a major studio to oversee its latest tentpole. Marvel Studios is particularly notorious for doing this, hiring promising up-and-comers to helm Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, in some cases before they've even had a chance to firmly establish their voices as directors. At worst, this can take a toll on their mental health and leave them feeling disillusioned with their very profession. It's why I'm so relieved whenever, say, a Taika Waititi comes along and is able to continue thriving both outside and within the blockbuster arena.

Another example? James Gunn. The MCU's first two "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies could have easily been bland "Star Wars" wannabes had the "Slither" and "Super" director not come in and infused those films with his off-beat mix of humor, heart, and weirdness. He brought the same blend of ingredients to the DC Extended Universe with "The Suicide Squad" and the "Peacemaker" spin-off series on HBO Max, this time coupling the adult tone and content of his earlier directorial efforts with the emotional maturity of his MCU films. It's why it only feels right that he was brought back to complete the trilogy with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" after being temporarily fired from the movie.

'It just wouldn't have been the same movie'

Production on "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is now underway, with Gunn directing from his own script. The main cast from the first two "GotG" films (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, and Sean Gunn) are back for the trilogy capper, with MCU newcomer Will Poulter ("Midsommar") joining the fray as Adam Warlock and Gunn's "Peacemaker" star Chukwudi Iwuji playing an as-yet undisclosed supporting role.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter to promote her role(s) in "The Art of Self-Defense" director Riley Stearns' dark sci-fi comedy "Dual," Gillan (who plays Nebula in the MCU) talked about being grateful to have Gunn onboard for her most-likely-final round with the Guardians in live-action:

"I think everybody was so excited to be back together. The feeling was giddy excitement. The whole family was back together and we truly do feel like a family. And it just wouldn't have felt right without James back with us. It just wouldn't have been the same movie. So we were all extremely grateful that everything got straightened out, as it should have. And now, we're almost finished. So there's a little bit of a bittersweet feeling in the air as we close out this chapter of the Guardians as we currently know it."

There's no need to rehash why Gunn was fired from "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" in the first place prior to being rehired (you can read about it here if you're unfamiliar), but Gillan's absolutely right: It wouldn't have felt right to bring the saga of the MCU's current Guardians team to a close without the storyteller who helped turn them into household names to begin with. If anything good came out of the whole debacle, it did free up Gunn to work his magic on the DCEU in between the second and third "GotG" films. Fingers crossed that break from the MCU also gave the filmmaker a chance to better recharge his batteries and really knock it out of the park with his final time at-bat on the franchise.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" opens in theaters on May 5, 2023. Before that, however, the Guardians will return in "Thor: Love & Thunder" on July 8, 2022, and star in the "Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" (which Gunn is also writing and directing) on Disney+ in December 2022.