Good news Guardians of the Galaxy fans, there are more movies ahead. Just weeks before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters, writer-director James Gunn recently announced that he would be writing and directing an upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn didn't say anything about a potential Vol. 4, but he did hint at a future beyond the third film. So just how many Guardians of the Galaxy movies will there be? Thanks to Iron Man, the standard bearer of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU tradition seems to be that each individual superhero franchise will get three films. However, that unwritten rule is already changing with Avengers: Infinity War (which will be split in two films). But, before we start speculating, let's look at what we know.
Gunn confirmed the existence of a Vol. 3 in a Facebook post, and he promised that in writing and directing the next installment, he would "work on creating the story that goes beyond what you expect." Notice the use of the word "beyond." Could that be a hint that the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise will go beyond three films? Well, that's unclear. In his announcement, Gunn revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would take place after Infinity War — both parts — which means that it will be part of the post-Avengers MCU, most of which remains something of a mystery. The fact that Guardians of the Galaxy will exist beyond the Avengers could signify the franchise's ability to eclipse the traditional three movie maximum.
Here's where it gets interesting: a close reading of Gunn's complete statement suggests very strongly that there will be more Guardians of the Galaxy movies beyond the confirmed trilogy. "It [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3] will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond," Gunn wrote. On the surface, it might sound like Guardians will be done after Vol. 3, but Gunn's phrasing clearly leaves room for a potential re-imagining of the Guardians team. As more new characters are introduced into the MCU, it's possible Marvel has already started planting seeds for what the next Guardians team might look like. (My personal vote is for Ant-Man in space.)
Even if the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise ends after only three films, it's clear that the third film will help kick off the MCU's mysterious Phase 4 (the next phase of Marvel films). Whether or not that Phase 4 will include more Guardians films, we'll have to wait and see.