While we're still a couple of years away from its release, 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' is shaping up to be the swan song of the franchise.

James Gunn's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' could be his final time helming of the mad-cap Marvel franchise. The director had previously stated that Vol. 3 would be his final time in charge of Chris Pratt's Star Lord, Bradley Cooper's Rocket Raccoon, Zoe Saldana's *missing* Gamora, and the rest of the rag-tag team of unwilling space heroes.

Following on from Drax actor Dave Bautista announcing his exit from the franchise over the weekend ("I'm expecting everything to start sagging any second now"), the 'Guardians' director also answered a fan question posed to him on Twitter about future sequels.

Asked if he would return for 'Guardians' 4, James wrote: "Me? Never say never but I see Vol 3 as the end of the Guardians’ story I started telling back with Vol 1."

While not outright admitting he wouldn't be back, it's likely James Gunn won't be returning to the franchise again. As well as it being the end of his initial movie plan for 'Guardians', lest we forget the creator was also caught up in that messy Disney/Marvel firing from 2018. Eight months later, he was brought back onto the project.

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanding their properties even more over their next few entries of Phase Four ('Eternals' and 'Fantastic Four' just two of the big releases on the horizon), 'Vol. 3' could see the 'Guardians' brand cease to exist. While it might not be the end of their characters necessarily, apart from Bautista's Drax, future MCU entries could see the team members jump ship to join other franchises. Or, who knows, maybe James Gunn will return for one more intergalactic ride?

Gunn's next release will be his reboot/sequel of DC's 'The Suicide Squad'.