Why the MCU era of “Guardians of the Galaxy” ends on Vol. 3


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the end of an era for the current Guardians’ team, with many reasons why this is the case. Since he began writing Guardians 3, James Gunn has been adamant that the upcoming movie will see the end of the current Guardians line-up. This admission has fuelled understandable concerns about the potential fates that could befall the beloved members of the current Guardians team and just how Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will present their conclusion.

Since the first Guardians of the Galaxy, released in 2014, the team has seen only minor changes that have stuck throughout the various films of Phase 3 and Phase 4. The Guardians team roster of the first movie was introduced as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax the Destroyer. That team was then seen again in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, only with two welcome additions in Mantis and Nebula. Since then, that roster has featured in Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, and they popped up more recently in Thor: Love and Thunder (without really affecting the plot).

Related: Is Thor: Love & Thunder Set Before Or After Guardians Of The Galaxy 3?

The latter also seemingly introduced Kraglin as a member of the team, leading into their next appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The film is less than a year away, and speculation is only growing as to how this Guardians team will end, with SDCC 2022 giving those in attendance a look at how this will happen. With Guardians 3 introducing Adam Warlock to the MCU, the possibility of a potential new Guardians lineup after Vol. 3 could also be why the Guardians of Phase 2-4 are coming to an end.

Will Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 Kill Off The Team? Who Could Die

Naturally, with James Gunn often reiterating that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will end this Guardians team as we know it, many assumed worst-case scenarios in which the Guardians team are killed. While it is extremely unlikely that Gunn and Marvel Studios will kill off every Guardians of the Galaxy member in Vol. 3, there are a few members of the team who stand out as potential candidates to meet their end in the MCU, ushering in the end of the Guardians era.

The frontrunner seems to be Drax the Destroyer. Drax, played by Dave Bautista in the Guardians movies, is a character introduced in the first Guardians of the Galaxy with a very specific character arc laid out for him. The first movie focuses on Drax’s need for revenge after Ronan the Accuser killed his family. Upon defeating Ronan, Drax’s attention turned to Thanos, Ronan’s boss. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame then wrapped up this arc, with Drax and the Guardians helping to defeat Thanos once and for all. With Drax’s family avenged and his main character arc wrapped up, it would make sense for Guardians 3 to be his last outing. Killing Drax off in an emotionally impactful way, with Drax helping to save his new family after avenging his old one, would truly give Bautista a resonant and hard-earned Drax the Destroyer MCU sendoff.

Another likely candidate for a tragic demise in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is Rocket Raccoon. According to James Gunn and the brief footage shown to those in attendance at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Rocket’s backstory is going to be one of the main focuses of Guardians 3. Since the first film, Rocket has grown to be a fan-favorite character, developing from a selfish narcissist into a genuine member of the team who helped the Avengers bring back his found family. The level of fan investment in Rocket and the promised exploration of his pre-Guardians life point toward the snarky raccoon meeting his demise in Guardians 3. Rocket Raccoon’s death could end his Marvel journey in a way that would surely hit fans square in the feelings given the strong reaction toward him and his character arc over the years.

Related: All 11 Marvel Movies Releasing After Thor: Love & Thunder (& When)

The other Guardians members are logically less likely to be killed off. Groot, for example, has already gone through a “death” of sorts in the MCU, while characters like Mantis and Nebula have much more room to grow. While Peter Quill’s death is a possibility given his status as leader of the Guardians, it is more likely Marvel will keep him alive to put Pratt’s leading-man quality to use in Phases 5 and 6. With Avengers: Endgame hinting at the Guardians 3 story about Quill finding Gamora and reconnecting with her, the two retiring together is a likely end for the characters.

Will Guardians Of The Galaxy 4 Happen? Who Could Join The Team

While Gunn has confirmed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the end of this Guardians team’s era in the MCU, that doesn’t exclude the introduction of another Guardians team couldn’t be introduced. While it is likely that most of the current Guardians members will either be killed or retired in the MCU, the film still promises a future for the Guardians in Phases 5 and 6. The main route for their continuation would be via Adam Warlock, played by Will Poulter. Warlock is confirmed to be part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and is a prominent member of the team in the comics at different points. Naturally, then, having him join the Guardians reformation after Adam Warlock is introduced in Guardians 3 makes a lot of sense.

Other characters have also been introduced in the MCU that could form a new Guardians team, and some incoming characters could also play a role in a future line-up. One of these characters is Starfox, introduced in Eternals. In the comics, Starfox formed the Dark Guardians, a team dedicated to stopping Thanos’ resurrection. Depending on how a potential Eternals sequel uses Starfox, he could be included as a Phase 5 or 6 Guardians member. Also, with reports of a Nova MCU project coming, he could take another slot on the roster. Nova has been part of the team in the comics, and given the Guardian’s link to the Nova Corps and Xandar in the MCU, this would make sense. However, it remains to be seen how Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will bring about the end of the current Guardians era in the MCU, with fans having to wait until May 2023 for answers.

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