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Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in quite an interesting position. Avengers: Infinity War rose above expectations in regards to box office and critical success, with its shocking ending forever changing the MCU as we know it. Rather than being vanquished by the shared universe's heroes, Thanos' Josh Brolin successfully acquired the Infinity Stones and destroyed half the galaxy with the snap of a finger. As such, there have been a ton of questions about the MCU's future, as it's unclear if/how the fallen characters will return. This certainly applies to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, which is set to release its trilogy ending Volume 3 after Avengers 4. James Gunn was recently asked to clarify if Guardians 3 was going to be a prequel or set after Infinity War, to which he said,
And just like that, one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has been put to bed. Guardians 3 will indeed be set after the events of Infinity War. This seems to hint that the fallen Guardians might return, although it's currently unclear exactly how that might occur.
James Gunn's tweet reveals that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be affected by the tragic events of the Russo Brothers' Avengers movies. This is likely a relief for the fans, who wanted the story to continue moving forward, rather than backwards. And considering the insane fates of the Guardians' members, simply ignoring their near-annihilation at the hands of Thanos would have felt disingenuous.
The Guardians of the Galaxy had a pretty bad run in Infinity War, despite bringing plenty of laughs and the crossover moments we'd all been waiting for. One of the most tragic moments of the film was the Soul Stone sequence, where Thanos brought Gamora to help him acquire the stone from Red Skull. Ultimately Thanos killed Gamora in order to get it, and the Guardians lost their first member. And when Thanos' finger snap of death came, Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, and Groot all became dust. Rocket is the sole survivor, and will no doubt raise hell to bring his family back.
The Guardians franchise has always operated on a timeline independent of the greater MCU, so it didn't seem out of the question that James Gunn might set the threequel in the past. While fans waited years for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to arrive, it was set just months after the first film. There are a few years before they eventually find Thor floating in space. Considering there are years of space adventures unaccounted for, Gunn could have easily set his third film somewhere in that gap of time.
Rocket and the rest of the Guardians will presumably be back for Avengers 4 on May 3rd, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.