Marvel fans have waited a long, long time for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Now that the highly anticipated Marvel movie has finally been given an official release date of May 5, 2023 — almost six years after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) premiered in theaters — plot details and rumors are beginning to emerge from Marvel Studios.
Marvel boss Kevin Feige has confirmed that director James Gunn will use more or less the same script draft he wrote back in 2018 as the basis for the upcoming film. Gunn wrote the draft prior to being removed as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 due to the resurfacing of insensitive Tweets from the controversial director. With James Gunn back in the fold, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on track. Here’s everything we know so far.
Recap of the previous Guardians of the Galaxy plots in the MCU
What is the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)?
This film features the now iconic ensemble cast of Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Groot (Vin Diesel).
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), helmed by by director James Gunn, is the fourth film of Marvel’s Phase 2 and was released in 2014, following Captain America: The Winter Soldier starring Chris Evans. The film acts as an origin story for the team, as the relatively obscure Marvel Comics characters were introduced to film audiences for the first time. The Guardians of the Galaxy form an uneasy alliance united in the mission to obtain “the Orb,” a powerful relic encasing the Power Stone — one of the Infinity Stones. The original goal of the Guardians is to obtain the Orb for profit, but once they learn of its power, they use it to protect Xandar from destruction by Ronan the Accuser.
Groot (Vin Diesel) sacrifices himself to save the team in the film’s climax. Groot’s son, also Groot, emerges as a sapling grown from the original Groot.
What is the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)?
In the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel — the third film of Marvel’s Phase 3 following the release of Doctor Strange (2016) — we pick up the action in 2017’s Vol. 2 a short time after the events of the first film. The Guardians overcome their dysfunctional family-style infighting as they uncover the secret history of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his powerful Celestial father, Ego (Kurt Russel). The Guardians save the galaxy once again, thwarting Ego’s plan to remake the universe in his image, but not before losing Yondu (Michael Rooker), who raised Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) like a son.
What other Marvel movies have the Guardians of the Galaxy appeared in, and what happened in those films?
In the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover event, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) the Guardians of the Galaxy reappear. The Guardians encounter Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as they attempt to stop Thanos from collecting all six Infinity Stones to assemble the unstoppable Infinity Gauntlet.
The Guardians also appear in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Having failed to kill Thanos, the Mad Titan has elimined half of all lifeforms in the universe. The remaining Guardians do whatever it takes to assist the Avengers with their Time Heist plan — to re-assemble the Infinity Gauntlet using time-travel. In the end, the Avengers are successful in reversing the snap, bringing back all those that were lost, though Gamora was unable to be recovered. A variant Gamora now exists in the Sacred Timeline. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) allies himself with the Guardians, joining them in their ship, the Benatar.
Characters and cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
When does Thor join the Guardians of the Galaxy?
At the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) joins the Guardians of the Galaxy on their ship, the Benatar. Thor, seeking adventure, gives up the crown of Asgard, and entrusts the responsibility of the Asgardian refugees living on Earth to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
Marvel’s Avengers fans refer to this version of Thor as “Fat Thor” or “Bro Thor,” due to the change in his appearance between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Thor originally met the Guardians of the Galaxy in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), when the Guardians crew intercepts a distress signal from Thor’s ship. Thanos had left Thor for dead after destroying his ship, until he was rescued by the Guardians. Thor goes on to seek a new weapon to replace Mjolnir with fellow weapons enthusiast Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper).
The Guardians of the Galaxy will appear in the fourth Thor film — the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, and directed by Taika Waititi.
What new characters and actors are expected to join Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
The main players from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) are all expected to return. We’ll likely also see Sean Gunn returning as Kraglin, taking over leadership of the Ravagers from Yondu (Michael Rooker), who was killed by Ego during the events of Vol. 2.
Kevin Bacon has expressed interest in joining the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cast, though nothing has been confirmed. The actor is name-dropped as a favorite actor of Peter Quill (Star-Lord) meaning Kevin Bacon the actor technically exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Adam Warlock, a character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in a end credits scene, likely signaling the inclusion of the perfect Sovereign in Guardians 3. Marvel Comics characters Nova and Hercules have also been rumored to appear in the MCU, and their cosmic-level, or god-level power respectively might give them an opening for an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Who are the main characters of Guardians of the Galaxy?
The main characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise Guardians of the Galaxy:
- Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)
- Gamora (Zoe Saldana)
- Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista)
- Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper)
- Groot (Vin Diesel)
The Guardians crew was joined in the sequel, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), by:
- Mantis (Pom Klementieff)
- Former nemesis of the Guardians, Nebula (Karen Gillan).
Release date for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
What is the current expected release date for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
Marvel Studios announced that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will premiere in theaters on May 5, 2023. Marvel Studios officially confirmed the release date by way of a title card that appeared in a Phase 4 sizzle reel, “Marvel Celebrates the Movies,” saluting the importance of superheroes to the film industry. Released in May 2021, the short was narrated by the former creative leader of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee. The promotional video featured references to many upcoming Marvel projects including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), Captain Marvel: The Marvels (2022), Eternals (2021), and Black Widow (2021), and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), and Ant-Man: Quantumania (2023).
You can watch the full video that includes the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date here:
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the release date of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
Many Marvel Studios projects saw lengthy delays as a result of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, as audiences suffered a drought of about 2 years with no new theatrical releases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Following Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) starring Tom Holland several high-profile projects experienced lengthy delays — including Black Widow (2021) starring Scarlett Johansson, Eternals starring Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie (2021), and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina.
While these theatrical features continued to contend with pandemic delays, Disney+ streaming series WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, and Loki starring Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson jumped the line, released for home viewing out of synchronized order with their cinematic counterparts.
However, while the pandemic certainly played some role in the lengthy delay of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the most dramatic shift in timing came due to Disney’s firing of director James Gunn from the Marvel Cinematic Universe over controversial tweets that resurfaced from the previous decade costing Gunn his role as writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The break-up between Disney and James Gunn didn’t last very long, but it did last long enough for rival studio Warner Bros. to sweep in and ink Gunn to gig writing and directing The Suicide Squad (2021) for the DCEU.
Director James Gunn went on to sign an additional deal to create a series for HBOMax, Peacemaker starring John Cena, that would key in on a Suicide Squad character from his film. Disney, Marvel Studios and director James Gunn have mended fences, but Gunn can’t begin to focus on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 full-time until he’s completed work on Peacemaker. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to begin filming with the original crew of characters — Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Peter Quill, Nebula and Drax — in late 2021.
The Guardians last appeared on screen in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). The likely next appearance of the Guardians will be as part of the ensemble for Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder (2022).
When were the first and second Guardians of the Galaxy movies released?
Guardians of the Galaxy was released in August, 2014. It’s sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released in May, 2017.
Expected plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
What plotlines are expected to be picked up from previous movies in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
James Gunn has stated that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will delve further into Rocket’s backstory, something that’s only been alluded to thus far. During a “Quarantine Watch Party” of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2020, Gunn tweeted,
“I’ll just say Rocket is a big part of what’s happening in the future – and a lot of this stuff (like the scars we’re about to see on his back) sets up what I’ve been planning for Rocket all along. #QuarantineWatchParty #GotG”
I’ll just say Rocket is a big part of what’s happening in the future – and a lot of this stuff (like the scars we’re about to see on his back) sets up what I’ve been planning for Rocket all along. #QuarantineWatchParty #GotG https://t.co/WLqoiG7Wzg
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 8, 2020
The film will also likely further explore the backstory of Drax and the glossed over loss of half of his race –including his entire family — at the hands of Thanos. This is an area Drax actor Dave Bautista sees as one with room for improvement, accusing Marvel studios of having “dropped the ball” when it comes to his character.
We can also expect to see how the variant Gamora adjusts to life in her new timeline. The original Gamora (Zoe Saldana), in a romantic relationship with Peter Quill, is lost in Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos trades her for the soul stone and is unable to be brought back by subsequent Infinity Stone snaps. Will the variant Gamora and Peter Quill rekindle their romance?
What Marvel Comics comic book series might the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 pull from?
- Rocket Raccoon (2014-2015): The series focuses in on Rocket and Groot and their adventures throughout the galaxy, with a sequence of storylines that tie into Rocket’s mysterious origins.
- Star-Lord (2015-2016) – The series gives us a clearer picture of who Peter Quill is, and even shows us more of his relationship with his father figure, Yondu. With the Guardians potentially set to be disbanded following Vol. 3, we could see Marvel Studios focus on Star-Lord as more of a solo hero moving forward.
- Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection (1970s) – To get a better understanding of the likely appearance of antihero Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as well as director James Gunn’s retro-futuristic 1970s aesthetic, check out Jim Starlin’s work on Adam Warlock.
How many more movies are the Guardians of the Galaxy expected to appear in?
The Guardians of the Galaxy are confirmed to appear in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023). James Gunn is also directing the cast in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special — scheduled to hit Disney+ in late 2022 — as well as scenes for the Walt Disney World Resort attraction Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT.
Director James Gunn has said that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will complete his trilogy, and likely be the end of his time as writer and director of the franchise. Drax actor Dave Bautista has also expressed his feeling that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will wrap up his character’s storyline — and get him out of having to do shirtless scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Where do the Guardians of the Galaxy films rank in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments!