Ten years ago, no one would have expected a sentient tree and heavily armed, talking raccoon to become some of Hollywood’s most popular superheroes, but two Guardians of the Galaxy movies later, that’s the world we’re living in — and a third film is on the way.
Director James Gunn’s 2014 cosmic adventure Guardians of the Galaxy and its 2017 sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, outperformed expectations by becoming two of the highest-grossing films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a roster of relatively unknown characters. The two films assembled a colorful cast of reluctant heroes led by actor Chris Pratt’s charismatic thief Peter Quill, and featuring Zoe Saldana as the assassin Gamora, Dave Bautista as the warrior Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of the sentient tree Groot, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of brilliant weaponsmith Rocket Raccoon. The team was later joined by Karen Gillan as Gamora’s adopted sister, Nebula, and Pom Klementieff as the empathic Mantis.
After saving the universe not once but twice, the team of adventuring “a-holes” (their words, not ours) played a big part in Avengers: Infinity War, and will return to the screen for another solo adventure with Gunn as writer and director in 2020. Here’s everything we know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 so far.
The script is in
MCU bossman Kevin Feige is doing lots of press interviews for the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, but he has also fielded questions about several other Marvel ventures, including Guardians 3. Speaking with Collider, Feige revealed that Gunn has submitted a full script draft and that filming is set to begin in early 2019.
Given the rather shocking events of Avengers: Infinity War (which we won’t spoil here, though the statute of limitations on such spoilers is dwindling), it will be curious to see which characters factor into the Guardians finale.
Gunn made his return for Vol. 3 official in an update on Facebook. The lengthy post was published before the start of the press tour for Vol. 2, and Gunn indicated that he wanted to let fans of the franchise be the first to know, rather than simply announcing the news during a press junket interview.
“Yes, I’m returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Gunn wrote. “In the end, my love for Rocket, Groot, Gamora, Star-Lord, Yondu, Mantis, Drax, and Nebula — and some of the other forthcoming heroes — goes deeper than you guys can possibly imagine, and I feel they have more adventures to go on and things to learn about themselves and the wonderful and sometimes terrifying universe we all inhabit. And, like in both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, we will work on creating the story that goes beyond what you expect.”
Given the three-year separation between the first Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, many fans speculated that 2020 would be the most likely year for Vol. 3 to hit theaters. That speculation was eventually confirmed in January 2018 by Gunn himself, who responded to a fan’s question on Twitter with an official date — or rather, a specific year — when audiences can expect to see the third installment of the series.
Coming in 2020. https://t.co/2kQbPHC5gP
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 14, 2018
Asked whether there will be a third Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn responded, “Coming in 2020.”
An ending and a beginning
In his initial post confirming his return for Vol. 3, Gunn hinted that the third installment of the series could bring an end to some key elements of the franchise while kick-starting a new chapter for the ragtag team.
“Much of what’s happened in the MCU for the past 10 or so years has been leading, in a big way, to the Avengers’ Infinity War,” wrote Gunn. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will happen after all that. It will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond.”
Gunn’s cryptic hint at what the future holds for the Guardians of the Galaxy could have a wide range of interpretations, but one thing seems certain: Whatever version of the team continues on after Vol. 3 will be very different from the team that was introduced in the 2014 film.
It’s widely expected that the core team from 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy will return for Vol. 3, but given how many supporting characters have been introduced across the first two films, it’s anyone’s guess as to which cast members will be brought back for another adventure.
One character that does seem to have been confirmed to return, however, is Mantis — the empathic, antenna-sporting alien in Vol. 2. In a May 2017 post on Instagram, Gunn wished Klementieff a happy birthday and looked “forward to spending the next couple of years hanging out with both her and Mantis while making Vol. 3.”
So that is one character down, and a few dozen more to confirm. Given the uncertain realities of comic books and the movies inspired by them, even Michael Rooker’s fin-headed mercenary Yondu might return for more action.
Updated on June 25: The script has been completed and filming is expected to take place in 2019.