Marvel space romp Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gave audiences so much to enjoy, not least of which was the return of many fan-favorite characters from the first film, as well as exciting new faces. However, this second outing was forced to leave certain key players out, as is usually the case with Hollywood sequels and a continuation of an intricate story.
Let's take a look at some of the performers who missed their chance to appear alongside Star-Lord and his motley crew of Guardians this go-round, whether characters from the first film who didn't make this cut, or big-name performers who turned down the chance.
1 & 2. John C. Reilly and Glenn Close
The first two stars on this list are placed together so that you're not forced to read the same thing twice (you're welcome). John C. Reilly and Glenn Close appeared in the first film as Corpsman Day and Nova Prime, respectively. Their characters were high-ranking members of the Nova Corps and played an important role in the defense of planet Xandar, led by Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, against Ronan's fleet of starships.
Reilly played the type of character he excels at — a goofball in a very serious setting — while Close ticked the box of acclaimed character actor in a glorified cameo as an authority figure, not unlike Harrison Ford in The Expendables 3 or Kurt Russell in the last few The Fast and the Furious flicks.
So why were these two characters left out of the sequel? One could simply argue that their presence was not necessary to develop the plot. Director James Gunn told Newsday that despite filming a few lines with her, Close's character didn't make the final cut, explaining:
"I was trying to cram Nova Prime into the second movie as opposed to having it happen organically.”
However, Gunns says this doesn't preclude Close from turning up later in the film's Blu-ray release.
3. Benicio Del Toro
Another face that appeared in the first Guardians but not the second is Benicio Del Toro. How could viewers forget his eccentric performance as the Collector? Del Toro first tackled the role of the space connoisseur in a post-credits scene in #Thor: The Dark World.
The camp Collector made good use of his screen time in the first Guardians, giving our heroes a pivotal rundown of the Infinity Stones that have been popping up around the Marvel Cinematic Universe for eons (and successfully linking the Guardians to the #Avengers). He also popped up once again in the film's comedic post-credits scene.
As #GuardiansoftheGalaxy2 entered pre-production, Del Toro expressed his eagerness to continue exploring this character in future #Marvel Studios productions, but also stated that he knew it was unlikely he'd be appearing in the Guardians sequel. Gunn confirmed this as principal photography began, stating during a Facebook Live stream that the character "just didn't fit in."
4. Nathan Fillion
Most avid TV viewers perhaps best remember Nathan Fillion for his starring role on ABC's Castle or for captaining the spacecraft in Joss Whedon's #Firefly. However, it's a lesser-known fact that Fillion made a cameo appearance in the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
Remember that large blue alien who aggressively introduces himself to Quill in a gag about prison sex before having the snot beat out of him by Groot? Well, that was Fillion, who was a big fan of the Guardians long before they became big-screen heroes.
The benefit of playing a CG character with an altered voice meant that Fillion was able to take on a new role in the sequel. Rumors spread quickly that he would play Simon Williams, after he tweeted a photo of himself in a Wonder Man costume in the cockpit of a starship. However, Gunn quickly took to Twitter to shut the rumors down, stating that the celebrity fan was simply "clowning around on set."
5. Matthew McConaughey
Before Kurt Russell was cast, Matthew McConaughey was one of the contenders to play Peter Quill's cinematic father, Ego the Living Planet. Now, before you argue that McConaughey is too young to be Chris Pratt's father, let us remind you that Ego is a space-god Celestial being, not a human being.
McConaughey turned down the role in favor of the soon-to-be-released adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a decision he justified to ComicBookMovie with praise for a well-written script, the director's vision, and a love for the character that he would be portraying. The Oscar winner also spoke of his specific reluctance to appear in the Guardians sequel:
"I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was 'It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.' I’d feel like an amendment."
6. David Bowie
Icon David Bowie was featured, in a way, in the first Guardians of the Galaxy — through his music, that is. "Moonage Daydream," a song from his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, appeared on Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Another one of his songs, "Suffragette City," was used to promote Vol. 2, though it did not appear on the soundtrack.
The day after Bowie's untimely death in 2016, James Gunn took to Facebook to share his grief and talk of his intention for his rock hero to make a cameo appearance in Vol. 2. It was never revealed what kind of role Bowie was slated to play, or if that had even been confirmed, though we can assume due to Bowie's eccentric nature that the character would have been a strangely memorable one.
7. Robert Downey Jr.
It's no secret that Guardians of the Galaxy takes place in the same universe as the Avengers, especially since Quill and the gang are slated to meet Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. For this reason, it wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine Robert Downey, Jr. reprising his Iron Man role in the Guardians sequel.
2013's Iron Man 3 was alleged to feature a post-credits screen that linked the world of Tony Stark to Guardians of the Galaxy, but Marvel decided to scrap this idea. This would have made sense, seeing as Tony had frequently appeared alongside the 2008 incarnation of the Guardians in the comics — the iteration that the film's team is based on.
It was eventually decided that, due to the narrative direction the #MCU was headed in, it didn't make sense for Stark to randomly appear in this galaxy, only to return to Earth in Avengers: Age of Ultron without any reference to his endeavor. Since one of the post-credit scenes for Vol. 2 was to feature an astronaut in contact with scientists on Earth, the opportunity was once again considered. Instead, the scene turned into one of those famous Stan Lee cameos we all know and love.
If you were the creator and lord of the MCU, which character would you have loved to see in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and why? Sound off in the comments section below.