Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3 has proven to be a fitting and emotionally satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Still, while the film does conclude many character arcs it surprisingly presented us with new directions for these characters and the larger MCU that are worth speculating about. WARNING: Spoilers will follow about the film.
The Legendary Star-Lord
One of the biggest surprises from Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3 was the final post-credits scene. After a rather mundane scene with Peter Quill aka Star-Lord settling down to life on Earth with his grandfather, a title card pops up announcing that “The Legendary Star-Lord will return”. This was rather stunning. Throughout the film, there was a sense that Quill was approaching an emotional end to his time as the space-faring Star-Lord. He was first seen moping and drinking over the loss of his lover, Gamora (who was killed during Avengers: Infinity War), and his fellow Guardians pointed out that he still had family on Earth. During the film, he tries to rekindle his romance with an alternate version of Gamora (displaced from another timeline into the “regular” timeline), but she did not reciprocate the love because in her timeline she never knew him.
Throughout the film, Peter had to come to terms that his Gamora was gone and that it was pointless to continue his wooing her doppelganger. Frankly, it was refreshing that writer and director James Gunn did not try to put them back together since that development would have felt empty. Doing so also would have robbed the emotional impact of the original Gamora’s death. Peter’s acceptance that the current Gamora was not his lover reborn showed a level of growth and maturity for him. This was welcomed by fans because there have been complaints that while he is a goofy and endearing superhero, he came off as immature in some of his appearances. In reality, in this film he demonstrated that he was very crafty and mature during unexpected moments, such as when he and the team infiltrated that weird organic medical facility in space.
After nearly dying during the film’s final act, Peter decides to essentially retire as Star-Lord. He appoints Rocket Raccoon as leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and returns to Earth. But the implication that Star-Lord will return opens up lots of speculation about how this will come about. Chris Pratt, who plays Peter Quill, has stated he is willing to reprise the role at some point in the future. Most likely he will turn up in the upcoming Avengers films or he could wind up starring in a TV show or special that would be about his adventures on Earth. After all, the legendary Star-Lord cannot just spend the rest of his life eating cereal with his grandfather in Missouri. Maybe he will find a new love. Perhaps this person could be Kitty Pride, who was involved with him in the comic books—this could also be a way to bring in more mutants into the MCU. Or he could wind up being some kind of advisor or mercenary for the Earth-based forces that protect Earth from aliens. Or he could finally find a way to reunite with his Gamora in Soulworld, a realm where her spirit exists in, which was seen in Avengers: Infinity War. This would echo a development in the Marvel comics where at one point a deceased Gamora resided in this realm.
No One Dies!
Despite all the marketing and heavy implications that Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3 would kill off our beloved Guardians, no one on the team died. That was a very pleasant revelation for many who were bracing for the worst. Sure there many close calls especially with Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon. Chalk this up to the level of skill that James Gunn had in ramping up suspense and making us believe that these characters would die.
Of course, there were deaths in the film, and the most painful were those of Rocket’s friends, Lylla the otter, Teefs the walrus, and Floor the albino rabbit. They were seen in flashbacks as fellow animal experiments that were mutilated by the High Evolutionary and gained sentience. Together the three animals comforted Rocket when he first met them as he recovered from painful surgery that augmented him. The four soon formed a strong bond and dreamed of living outside of their cages. The friendship also inspired Rocket’s goal to “fly away together, one last time, into the forever and beautiful sky.”
Tragically this never happened. As soon as Rocket was able to free his friends, the High Evolutionary and his minions killed them. As the sole survivor of the massacre, Rocket was able to escape and eventually fulfilled his dream but with a different set of friends who became his family—the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Rocket Raccoon was actually the secret protagonist of the films, according to James Gunn, and this verified in the third film. As such, he represented the soul of the team, while Peter Quill was the heart. Like Quill, Rocket underwent a profound emotional growth in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3. He came to terms with his painful past as he confronted the High Evolutionary. During a near death experience, he even learned from Lylla’s spirit that he had a destiny, which was to lead the team.
Meet the New Guardians of the Galaxy
While it was a great relief that our beloved Guardians did not die, the team in a sense did. Our hearts were yanked all over the place when several team members announced they were leaving the group. First with Peter announcing he was returning to Earth. Then Mantis left to find herself in the galaxy, while Drax stepped down to become a father to several dozen orphan children. Nebula became the leader of Knowhere, the mining town they all lived in, while Gamora reunited with her own group. It was very sad seeing the team members going their own way, but this was an appropriate evolution for the characters. It is a lot like when we leave a job, or move out of our homes. These are moments of growth for us, just like it was for the Guardians. They reached the end of their life journey in the team and recognized it was time to move on. That is why we joined in spirit with the celebrations in Knowhere with the characters. We became a part of the group, as was proven when we finally understood Groot when he said he loved the team.
Even though the beloved iteration of the team came to an end, we were shown there was a future for the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the first post-credits scene, we are introduced to a new version of the team. Rocket and Groot are the only OG members in the team, but Rocket is now the leader. The new members include Kraglin, Yondu’s Ravager protégé; Adam Warlock and his pet Blurp; Cosmo the telepathic dog; and the young Phyla-Vell.
Those that don’t read the Marvel comics may not realize that Adam Warlock, Phyla-Vell and Cosmo were actually members of the Guardians of the Galaxy at some point.
Will we see more of the new Guardians? There aren’t any announcements from Marvel Studios about them (or Star-Lord). Recently, much of the promotional talk about Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3 has been clarified that this would be James Gunn’s final film, that several actors would not return, and that this was the end for this version of the team.
It would be great to see another film featuring the new line-up, but given the crowded plate of planned MCU projects, it is hard to see where they will turn up. While a fourth film may not happen, they most likely will turn up in future Avengers films and possibly other MCU projects. It would be great to see Adam Warlock further developed given his fascinating and rich comic book background. It would also be a nice tip to fans if they showed the very first version of the team, who were based in the far-future. A possible post-credits scene in a potential fourth film could feature the original team, who come together after being inspired by the exploits of Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax, Mantis and Nebula. That would be a fitting way to conclude the saga of the Guardians of the Galaxy. But for now let’s be thankful that James Gunn and company stuck the landing with Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3, which was a great way to end the trilogy.
It will be interesting to see what happens to all these characters after the events of Volume 3, especially with some characters going in different direction. Will they meet up again? Who will direct these particular projects? Again, it’s all interesting aspects of what will become of these Guardians members.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they reunite in Avengers: Secret Wars or some other MCU epic. The actors always say they are done with their roles but usually end up returning. We just have to be patient.
Will be fascinating to see what the future holds for the Guardians, old and new, moving forward. While we might not necessarily get another film just yet, I’m sure the Guardians will pop up in an Avengers film or perhaps Secret Wars – although I still think that may be a vehicle to bring the Avengers – X-Men – and Fantastic Four together? Either way, there still lots of potential for the Guardians in the MCU.
I can definitely see the Guardians turning up in the Fantastic Four as well as the Avengers. They could also go the route with doing more holiday specials since the last one was so good and the specials can be used to measure if there is any interest in the new team.
The premise could be that the Guardians are missing Peter Quill and go to Earth to visit him during a holiday, it doesn’t have to be Christmas, hilarity ensues. Or vice versa Peter takes his grandfather to visit Knowhere. Same result. There you go Feige, you can pay me with future world premiere tickets to MCU films. 😊