The Guardians of the Galaxy are coming back for one more solo adventure — and then that’s (probably) it. The fan-favorite Marvel team is set to reunite in 2023 for the third film in the Guardians franchise — aptly titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — which will pick up where 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 left off.
Based on recent comments from actor Dave Bautista and writer-director James Gunn, it appears Vol. 3 will serve as the final chapter in the Guardians’ Marvel Cinematic Universe journey.
Wrapping Things Up — During a recent interview with Collider, Dave Bautista – who plays Drax in the films – spoke about getting ready to shoot Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 later this year. “We’re making that film, we’re going into it later this year,” he said. “It’s signed, sealed, and delivered to do it, and I’m excited about it.” Bautista added that he and the rest of the Guardians creative team will “wrap up this story” in Vol. 3, suggesting the film will close out the Guardians’ standalone adventures in the MCU.
One Last Ride — Bautista’s recent comments don’t exactly come as a surprise. The actor’s been candid over the past few weeks about his plans to step away from the MCU after Vol. 3 — and hasn’t held back in voicing his frustration over Marvel’s sidelining of his character’s emotional arc in recent films.
Gunn similarly teased last week that Vol. 3 will mark “the end of the road for me, and even more so for this group of guardians.” The filmmaker’s comments suggest that, at the very least, the Guardians’ membership will look very different after Vol. 3. That means several of the current Guardians, from Bautista’s Drax to Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, could either step away from the MCU at the end of Vol. 3 (à la Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers in Avengers: Endgame) or could perish at some point during the new adventure.
Considering Bautista’s adamant position that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the last time he plays Drax in the MCU, it’s entirely possible the character could meet a tragic end. And if Drax – a central figure in all three Guardians films – dies in Vol. 3, it stands to reason that other members of the team could find themselves in similar danger.
That’d be in keeping with the established tone and style of the franchise, too, coming off the highly emotional conclusion of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which saw Michael Rooker’s Yondu sacrifice himself to save adopted son Star-Lord from his birth father, the villainous Ego (Kurt Russell).
The Inverse Analysis — All signs point towards Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being the last outing for this current Guardians lineup. That doesn’t mean the franchise couldn’t continue on after Vol. 3 with a remixed cast of characters, but it would also do so without Gunn, seen as the creative mind behind all three films. In other words, fans should prepare to say goodbye to at least some of the Guardians in 2023 — if not necessarily all of them.
Of course, Vol. 3 isn’t the only upcoming MCU project where the current Guardians are set to appear. The team will take on a less central role in next year’s Thor: Love and Thunder, following on from the conclusion of Endgame that saw the God of Thunder set off with the Guardians into space. Then, there’s the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which is set to debut on Disney+ sometime between the releases of Love and Thunder and Vol. 3. So, even if the Guardians’ days in the MCU are numbered, fans can look forward to at least three more appearances from these fan-favorite characters before they make a sure-to-be epic exit.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 dances into theaters on May 5, 2023.