Joe Maher/FilmMagic
Clark Collis
May 14, 2017 AT 07:32 PM EDT

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Despite the huge success of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the smooth production of its much-anticipated and now-in-cinemas sequel, James Gunn thought long and hard before agreeing to return for a third film in the franchise, a decision he finally announced on April 17 at the start of the press tour for Vol. 2. When your writer spoke with the filmmaker less than a month before, Gunn seemed genuinely unsure as to whether he would oversee a third Guardians film, even if he did appear to be leaning towards doing so. “I’m figuring it out, I’m figuring out what I’m going to do next,” said Gunn. “I’m closer to making a decision. Now that I’m finishing up [Vol. 2] I am starting to think about what I’m going to do next and Vol. 3 is not an impossibility.”

In the course of a Facebook Q&A Sunday, Gunn revealed that one big reason he had to think hard about directing Vol. 3 is that he was reluctant to make a third Guardians movie without Michael Rooker. The actor has appeared in all of Gunn’s films, dating back to his 2006 directorial debut, the horror film Slither. But Rooker seems unlikely to make a significant appearance in Vol. 3 — or appear at all — given his character Yondu sacrifices himself at the end of Vol. 2 to save his adopted son, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill.

RELATED: Box office report: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes top spot again

“Let me tell you, there was nothing harder for me than the choice to kill Yondu in this movie,” Gunn said Sunday in response to a question about why the character had to die. “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.”

Calling the death of Yondu “the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make from a storytelling perspective,” Gunn added, “I wrote a bunch of treatments where Yondu did not die. There were other endings — he was saved at the last minute after taking the sacrificial stance, and I wrote many drafts like that. And I realized I was being dishonest. That was not what this story was. For me, the most important thing in making a movie is to tell the truest and most honest story possible, and that’s whether you’re making a $500,000 indie film or a $200 million dollar spectacle film. And the truth of this story, this was about a father’s true and ultimate love for his son. This is a movie about, Who really are our fathers? Who really are our siblings? And the only way for it to be an honest story was for Yondu to die, and anything else would have been half measures, and would have been me backing out because I was afraid to tell the truth. And so that’s why Yondu dies.”

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