Warning, if you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there are spoilers below which relate to writer/director James Gunn’s initial reluctance to signing on do a third installment in the wildly successful Marvel series. It wasn’t until the start of the press tour for Vol. 2 that he finally announced he had given in and said yes to coming back for a Vol. 3.
That had been back on April 17th, and now in a Facebook Q&A today, Gunn confessed that the reason he hadn’t jumped on the chance was because of Michael Rooker. Rooker has been in every one of Gunn’s films, going all the way back to his first directing gig in the 2006 Slither. But now with Rooker’s character of Yondu having sacrificed himself to save Star Lord / Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt), it seems that he won’t likely be back again, at least as the character of Yondu. There’s always the option of flashbacks for hidden video messages, but that doesn’t really mesh with Gunn’s style.
During the Facebook session Gunn said:
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. And it was the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make from a storytelling perspective to choose to have Yondu die. 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.
It’s rare that you see that kind of devotion between actors and directors. Ron Perlman and Guillermo del Toro, and Johnny Depp and Delena Bonham Carter alongside Tim Burton are some of the few others that come to mind. But it seems that Gunn is taking the hit and moving forward with Vol. 3, and while we don’t expect to see Yondu again, with all the creatures running around out there, I wouldn’t be at all shocked to find that Rooker is in one of them. If the recipe has worked this well between Gunn and Rooker, what’s a little death to keep them apart.