It remains unclear exactly what Marvel Studios is planning to do with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Since writer-director James Gunn was fired by Disney this summer, the next installment in the space superhero series has seemingly run aground and a new rumor based on an issue of Production Weekly suggesting that production wouldn't begin for several years. 

It's easy to see why Marvel might want to leave a third Guardians movie alone for a while; the series has been so identified with Gunn that any future installment will raise the specter of his dismissal.

The idea of simply abandoning the series altogether has almost certainly been discussed, although l considering how successful earlier installments have been, and how beloved the characters are.

But what if there was some way for Marvel to continue the movie series without all the baggage of the Guardians brand?

Even if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 never happens, seeds sown by the Gunn and the comic creators who came before him have ensured that there's (literally) a galaxy of potential to be mined for further exploration.