James Gunn Could Be The Godfather Of The Whole Cosmic MCU

"We're bigger than Iron Man," the director says. John Lennon approves. 

While stumping for the home video release of Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn dropped some science about the future of the franchise... and the entire cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

For Gunn the success of the movie opens a lot of possibilities: 

Who knows how much we’ve influenced Phase Three but one thing is the Guardians aren’t back seat to The Avengers. Captain America, Thor, those other movies, they do really support The Avengers and I think take a back seat to The Avengers. The Guardians are their own thing. The cosmic side of the universe is its own thing. And because the movie was so successful, it was more successful than Iron Man was, that changed the way other people looked at it but I still look at it the same way.

What I'm getting from this: if Guardians wasn't successful it would have somehow been folded completely into the standard MCU, but the way people responded to it means that this is a franchise that is allowed to operate away from The Avengers. Which isn't to say they won't crossover for Infinity War - this seems like a huge no-brainer and Kevin Feige has said those films take place mostly in space - but that Gunn is now the owner of his own sandbox, and he gets to do his own thing.

And do his own thing he shall! Gunn is thinking about Guardians not as a single franchise but as a launching pad for a whole bunch of new franchises:

There was a big rash of “James Gunn Was Thinking Of Ideas For Guardians of the Galaxy 3.” I don’t think I really said that. What I said was “I had ideas for Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I knew what I was going to do for that, and I had ideas for beyond that.” That doesn’t necessarily mean Guardians of the Galaxy 3 because there are a lot of different characters in this movie that could go in a lot of different directions. And some of the characters I’m most interested in aren’t necessarily Guardians of the Galaxy.

We know that Captain Marvel is coming, and Carol Danvers is certainly a cosmic character. Could that be who he is talking about? What other characters could Gunn have in Guardians 2 who could spin off into their own films?

By the way: no director has made more than two films with Marvel yet. Could the Russos and Gunn be the ones to break that streak?

Joss Whedon was supposed to be the creative godfather of the MCU, a role that I think was exagerrated for press purposes. But it does sound as though Gunn has staked his claim in space, and that he's going to be the guy running the show up in the Cosmic section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.