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Dave Bautista says James Gunn pitched him Drax-Mantis spinoff; adds he'll 'probably' leave Drax role after Guardians Vol. 3

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May 8, 2021, 4:21 PM EDT (Updated)

Prior to the release of Vol. 3 in summer 2023, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy universe will expand in a pair of Disney+ originals: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I Am Groot.

According to Dave Bautista, however, Guardians mastermind James Gunn once had an idea for a spinoff about the literal-minded Drax and his naive pal, Mantis (Pom Klementieff). "There were talks for a while about a Drax and Mantis film. It was really because it was James Gunn's idea," the wrestler-turned-actor recently told Digital Spy. "He really wanted to do a Drax and Mantis film. He laid it out to me. I thought it was such a brilliant idea, but I haven't heard any follow-up from the studio."

It's not clear when Gunn floated the idea along, but if we had to wager a guess, we'd say it was probably around the release of Vol. 2 (where Drax and Mantis first met), but before Gunn was briefly fired by Disney in the summer of 2018. Whatever the case, Marvel Studios obviously isn't making the project — at least not at the moment. "I don't think they're very interested, or it doesn't fit into the way they have things mapped out," Bautista explained, while also hinting that Vol. 3 could be the end of his MCU tenure. "But other than that, no. I mean, as far as my obligations, I've got Guardians 3, and that's probably going to be the end of Drax."

He later clarified his statement on Twitter, writing that while Drax's story may continue, he doesn't think he'll return to the role after the third film. "Drax isn’t going anywhere," Bautista tweeted. "He just won’t be played by this dude! By the time G3 comes out, I’ll be 54-yrs-old for gods sake! im expecting everything to start sagging any second now."

Gunn chimed in with: "There’s no Drax for me without you, buddy! You ARE the MCU’s Drax the Destroyer and, as far as I’m concerned, could never be replaced. And you have the right to do whatever you want with your acting choices!" When asked if he'd be open to making a fourth Guardians of the Galaxy film, the writer-director replied: "Never say never, but I see Vol 3 as the end of the Guardians’ story I started telling back with Vol 1."

Set to kick off production sometime this year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is scheduled to hit the big screen on May 5, 2023. Marvel Studios confirmed the release date earlier in the week in a special sneak peek at Phase 4 of the MCU. "I don't know what the script of the third film is, to be honest with you," Bautista said. "There was a script years ago that obviously is going to have to change because the whole direction of the Marvel universe has changed."

Replying to a SYFY WIRE article about the possible return of Howard the Duck last summer, Gunn confirmed the screenplay is complete. "Our designers and visual development geniuses are busy creating new, fantastic designs of other worlds and alien beings," the filmmaker wrote on Twitter last month. "I'm not sure the galaxy is big enough for all this magic. This. One. Is. Huge. I'm excited."

Bautista's next starring role can be found in Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead. He wanted to be in the film so badly, that he passed up a chance to work with Gunn on The Suicide Squad (out Aug. 5). Snyder's zombie-heist film hits theaters next Friday (May 14) before arriving on Netflix the following Friday (May 21).