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Everything We Know About James Gunn’s Story

Here’s everything we know about James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 story. Development on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has been underway since 2017 when Marvel officially confirmed that Gunn would return to close out his trilogy. As the writer and director of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, fans became quite nervous about the trilogy’s future after old tweets led to Gunn being fired by Disney. Thankfully, the House of Mouse and Marvel rehired him to tackle the highly anticipated cosmic adventure, even if that meant pushing the movie until 2023.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to be one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most influential movies of Phase 4. It was initially scheduled to kick off the post-Infinity Saga story, but now it will arrive near the end of Phase 4, if not the start of Phase 5. Throughout all this time, Gunn and those involved with the movie have continued to tease details about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s plot. These details go beyond the film’s confirmed cast list: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Karen Gillen as Nebula, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Will Poulter as Adam Warlock, and more.

Related: Who Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3’s Huge Secret Character Could Be

Marvel Studios isn’t planning to release Guardians of the Galaxy 3 until May 5, 2023, so that is one of many reasons why the movie’s storyline has yet to be officially confirmed. However, the film’s extended development has meant ample time for various pieces of information to come to light. Since there is so much info to keep track of, though, here’s a breakdown of everything we know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story.

Guardians 3 Takes Place After Endgame & Thor 4

Pom Klemntieff, Chris Pratt, and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder

Before the end of Phase 3, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise mainly operated on its own without too much concern for the larger MCU storyline. This allowed the series to stand alone and not worry about how it connects to or builds off what is happening around it. That isn’t the case with the threequel following the Guardians of the Galaxy’s role in Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers: Endgame, and Thor: Love and Thunder. It is confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy 3’s story primarily occurs after their last MCU appearance and their very brief role in Taika Waititi’s film. This places the sequel’s events sometime after 2023 in the MCU timeline. As a result, roughly a decade will have passed in-universe between the Guardians’ last solo mission and the sequel’s events.

Guardians 3 Ends The MCU’s Original Team Lineup

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 team featured

The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has revolved around a core team of five heroes from the very beginning: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot. While Yondu (Michael Rooker), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Mantis, and Nebula have all joined the team since then, that original group is at the heart of the franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the final time they are all together, though. James Gunn has repeatedly mentioned that the threequel ends the original iteration of the team, opening the door for a new team in Guardians of the Galaxy 4. This has led to significant speculation about how that will come to pass, as the movie’s various main characters could leave the Guardians team or the MCU entirely.

James Gunn’s Script Is Very Emotional

James Gunn Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s plot has mostly stayed under wraps, but one of the most common teases about its story from those involved is how emotional it is. Cast members like Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff said they cried when reading James Gunn’s script, while many others have praised the emotional rollercoaster it holds. Although the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has excelled thanks to its humor, the films also have strong emotional cores. Yondu’s death is one of the MCU’s most heartwrenching scenes, and the teases of the team ending have brought on theories that some of the biggest characters could die. Any of the film’s main characters like Rocket dying in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would partially explain this recurring sentiment of those who know what James Gunn’s script is all about.

Related: Why Rocket Lets Star-Lord Be Guardians Captain In Endgame, But Not Infinity War

Rocket’s Origin Will Be Explored

Rocket Raccoon backstory guardians of the galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s plot will also explore Rocket’s origins, and the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con trailer even revealed a glimpse of him as a baby. Rocket is the character James Gunn relates to the most, which is why he has taken on an increasingly prominent role as the MCU has continued. Rocket’s origins have yet to be thoroughly explored, though, as the original Guardians of the Galaxy only teased the scars on his back from the experiments he endured in the past. Gunn has confirmed that this part of Rocket’s origin is tied to where his overall story is heading, so it should be a key piece of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story. As for how that will happen, theories suggest Rocket Raccoon’s ties to Adam Warlock or the High Evolutionary as possible explanations.

Adam Warlock Is Confirmed

how marvel has already changed Adam Warlocks story

The biggest new addition to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s cast is Will Poulter as Adam Warlock, a powerful and supposedly perfect being. In the comics, he was created by a group of Earth scientists known as the Enclave before journeying into the cosmos to find himself, but his origin is a little different in the MCU. Gunn teased Adam Warlock’s role in the sequel during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s post-credits scene. In that scene, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) was shown creating Adam in one of the Sovereign’s Birth Pods. She made him to be a foe powerful enough to take down the Guardians after they defeated her. It isn’t confirmed what this means for Will Poulter’s role, but it could be that Gunn has made Adam Warlock a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 villainpossibly going by the name Magus.

The High Evolutionary Is Confirmed

Chukwudi Iwuji in Peacemaker and High Evolutionary

Another new character confirmed for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and one who is even more likely to be a villain, is the High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji. The actor is probably best known for his role as Clemson Murn in DC’s Peacemaker show, a mercenary who is possessed by a Butterfly. As for his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 character, the High Evolutionary is a being with a complex past in the Marvel comics. Initially a man known as Herbert Edgar Wyndham, High Evolutionary began his career experimenting with genetics at Oxford and eventually became so obsessed with his project that he left Earth (along with a collection of mutants he dubbed “New Men”). Once in space, the High Evolutionary’s powers became godlike thanks to experiments he performed on himself. Iwuji’s version of the character could have a different backstory, but his appearance at 2022’s San Diego Comic-Con confirmed his Guardians of the Galaxy 3 role as an antagonist whose main motivation is taking creatures he views as disgusting and evolving them to a “better” form.

Gamora Has A Significant Role

Zoe Saldana as Gamora in the MCU

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s plot also includes a major role for Gamora. After her death on Vormir in Avengers: Infinity War, Zoe Saldana rejoined the MCU as a 2014 version of Thanos’ favorite daughter, thanks to the film’s time travel plot. This version of Gamora has no recollection of a romance with Star-Lord, becoming a hero with the Guardians, or any other part of Gamora’s Guardians of the Galaxy MCU story up to this point. Although Avengers: Endgame didn’t reveal what happened to her after the Avengers’ fight with Thanos, a deleted scene showed Gamora freely walking away, and the 2022 Comic-Con trailer revealed that she’s now leading the Ravagers.

Related: Why Gamora Isn’t A Guardian Of The Galaxy In Thor: Love & Thunder

Earth-Based Heroes Could Appear


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is so far only confirmed to feature one hero from Earth in Star-Lord, but Gunn has said in the past that others could appear this time around. He originally wanted to keep Quill as the only human on the team and focus on introducing cosmic characters. The possibility of other Earth-based heroes appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens up a whole new realm of characters for the sequel. This could include some of the Guardians’ new friends and official Avengers or open the door for some important humans to join the MCU, such as Richard Rider a.k.a. Nova or Wendell Vaughn a.k.a. Quasar.

Ayesha Returns In Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Ayesha giving out orders.

It is also confirmed that Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha will return for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Ayesha was one of the secondary villains in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as she and the Sovereign initially hired the Guardians to protect them from the Abilisk. Rocket’s decision to steal batteries from them set Ayesha and the Sovereign after them, but their efforts to defeat the Guardians were thwarted in the end. This led Ayesha to create Adam Warlock, and his inclusion in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story should explain how she makes her return. It isn’t known how central a role Ayesha will play in the main narrative, though.

Quasar Appearance Teased For Guardians 3

Quasar Wendell Vaughn

James Gunn has also playfully teased the appearance of Quasar in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story. He shared a photo of a VCR player his family had when he was a kid during the early stages of developing the threequel. This specific brand of VCR player was named Quasar, the mantle for a powerful cosmic Marvel hero many characters have held. Wendell Vaughn is the original and most well-known version of Quasar, who gets his quantum energy powers from the Quantum Bands he wears. Phylla-Vel is another prominent hero to become Quasar. At the same time, Nova took on the name for a brief time, and the comics recently made Avril Kincaid the newest iteration. It’s unclear which version of the character Gunn thought about including or if Quasar even made it in the final script, but this is one new cosmic hero Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could feature.

Vance Astro Won’t Appear

It’s confirmed that Vance Astro won’t appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Vance Astro leads the future Guardians team from his universe, commonly referred to as Guardians of the Galaxy 3000, in the comics. Since Vance’s teammates Yondu, Charlie-27, and Martinex are already part of the MCU, fans wondered if he could come next. Gunn squashed any hope of Vance Astro appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 back in 2017. This means that even if Stakar Ogord and his Ravagers/Guardians team return, they won’t bring Vance with them as their latest recruit.

Related: Why The MCU Could Have Two Versions Of Nova

Guardians 3 Sets Up Future Cosmic MCU Movies

Marvel Cosmic After Guardians of the Galaxy 3?

A key part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story will include setting up future cosmic MCU movies. Back when the threequel was first being developed, James Gunn said he was personally involved in developing other cosmic properties that would be spun out of the events of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It is unknown how the film will set up the MCU’s future cosmic stories, but Gunn has also said that the movie is responsible for setting up the next decade of the shared universe. This should be good news for newly introduced characters like Adam Warlock. Still, it might also point to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s plot including Nova, the Annihilators, and other major Marvel cosmic ideas. It’s even possible this could be the film that sets up the Annihilation Wave as the MCU’s next big cosmic event.

Guardians 3 Didn’t Change After Disney/Fox Deal

Guardians of the galaxy one shots MCU misunderstood xmen formula

Despite all the new characters and ideas Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will include, fans shouldn’t expect the film to help reinstate the X-Men or Fantastic Four in the MCU, or any character related to them. James Gunn has said in the past that the film did not change due to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Studios and Marvel Studios obtaining the rights to more iconic characters. Since Guardians of the Galaxy 3’s script was finished before the deal took place, it shouldn’t be surprising that Gunn didn’t alter the story to include characters previously owned by Fox. As long as this didn’t change later on, that would mean that Kitty Pryde, Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Starjammers, or any other such characters won’t be part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story.

The Holiday Special Is Important To Guardians 3

One of the many changes to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that came due to its production delays was the ability for James Gunn to create The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The Disney+ special will debut in December 2022 and is vital for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s story. Gunn has teased it will introduce one of the greatest MCU characters, in his opinion, so that individual could be why the special is so important to the sequel’s narrative.

More: Guardians Of The Galaxy 3: Predicting The Fate Of Every Character

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023

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