No Marvel franchise is synonymous with a single filmmaker — except for Guardians of the Galaxy, which was transformed from an obscure niche sci-fi series into one of the biggest film series on the planet by writer/director James Gunn. He returned for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and he’s already announced he’ll be back at least one more time to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But it almost didn’t happen. 

In a Facebook Q&A over the weekend, Gunn explained the (SPOILER heavy) reason why he almost didn’t agree to return to make Vol. 3.

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.

Gunn and Roker have a collaboration dating back to the beginning of his directorial career; he cast the future Yondu as a guy turned into a hideous space creature in his debut feature, Slither, and they’ve worked together ever since.

Of course when I spoke with Michael Rooker a few weeks ago, he was extremely coy about whether Yondu would appear in another Marvel movie, despite his apparent death in Guardians 2. So maybe Gunn’s being coy here too. He’s the guy writing the movie, after all. He could always give Rooker a little flashback cameo.

[H/T Entertainment Weekly]