Who guards the Guardians?

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 could kill literally every single original cast member

Drax the Destroyer is just the tip of the iceberg...

This is not a drill: the Guardians of the Galaxy are in danger, even (and especially) with their third movie on the way.

Sure, Drax the Destroyer may be the one who needs Marvel fans' summoning circle energy the most, but the entire "bunch of a-holes" may be in for a fatal ride when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in theaters. Here's why it's time to start worrying about not just Drax, but literally every single Guardian.

The News — Actor Dave Bautista recently made headlines when stating that this next turn as Drax would likely be his last: "I mean, as far as my obligations, I’ve got Guardians 3, and that’s probably going to be the end of Drax." While that could be taken a number of ways, it's hard not to wonder if "the end of Drax" is a warning about the character's survivability.

If it's Bautista's final ride with the Guardians, he's not the only one. For his part, in a recent tweet, Gunn made it clear that his days with Marvel are coming close to an end. Asked by a fan on Twitter if he had a fourth Guardians movie in mind, Gunn was blunt about his ideas for Guardians 3: "I'm planning on it being my last."

Are you nervous? You certainly should be.

Director James Gunn tweets that the next Guardians movie will be his “last.”Twitter

A History of Violence — Gunn's Guardians movies are among the funniest films in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, but don't let the comedy obscure the danger.

The hit list is significant. Baby Groot (and eventually Teen Groot) only exists because the original Groot died, sacrificing himself for Rocket Raccoon and his friends. Yondu died next, then Gamora and a Nebula variant in the two-part Avengers finale. When it comes to the Guardians, survivability levels are lower than the light tone suggests.

It's a fitting thing, too, given the way the Guardians have been presented in Marvel Comics lore over the years. Despite their cinematic popularity, the Guardians' comic book continuity is really messy, but the thing to divine from the lore is this: the Guardians die, and they die hard. Star-Lord has died. Drax has died. Rocket and Groot have died. It's comics, so death is rarely permanent, but the reaper has for sure claimed your favorite space-faring superheroes on more than one occasion.

First there was Groot, then Yondu, then Gamora and Nebula. Who’s next?Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — When Gunn talks about the finality of his time with the Guardians franchise, and you pair it with Bautista's talk about being done with Drax, and then you add the history of violence both in the comics and the films themselves together … yeah, you get a very dangerous recipe indeed.

There's no chance Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ends without a major death, be it in the form of a single character (Drax is the frontrunner here given Bautista's recent statements but I personally have my eye on Rocket Raccoon) or the mass-casualty of the entire group.

It's fitting, too, given some of Avengers: Endgame hero Tony Stark's final words: "Part of the journey is the end." The second movie in the Guardians trilogy shows how death can be a powerful way to celebrate life, what with the veritable viking funeral for Yondu. Just imagine what that celebration looks like if the five core Guardians meet their makers in the next film.

Of course, it's also a major part of the Guardians' comic book history for new heroes to come along and staff the team. So while this could very well be the end of the original guard and Gunn's era in the MCU, don't expect the Guardians of the Galaxy brand to go away any time soon.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters May 5, 2023.