There is no questioning that the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is one of the greatest achievements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prior to the titular group’s big screen debut, general pop culture awareness of their existence was basically zero, and many questioned why Marvel Studios would take such a huge risk on an unknown property. Two blockbusters later, the brand has earned $1.6 billion at the global box office, and the characters have become some of the most popular in the entire comic book movie canon.
Because of this, fans have spent years both expecting and waiting for the third movie in the series, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and soon enough it will be making its way to a theater near you. But, what do we know about the project? When is it coming out? Who is making it? Who will appear? It’s for addressing all those questions and more that we have written this latest installment of our What We Know So Far series, so read on and find out everything you need to know about the upcoming space adventure.
What Is The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Release Date?
In October 2014 – approximately seven months before the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Marvel Studios held a special event in Los Angeles where they made a big show of announcing their Phase 3 slate, revealing all of the projects they were making for the next five years (or at least all the ones that were in the works at that time). Unfortunately, the company hasn’t been as forthcoming when it comes to information about their Phase 4 plans. Not wanting to count their chickens before they hatch / give everything away, Marvel has held off on officially announcing release dates for films coming out after July 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, and that includes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been clues – but it’s also worth noting that plans have very much changed during the blockbuster’s development. Originally it looked as though Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was going to be one of the three films slated for release in 2020, but for reasons we’ll get into in a minute those plans were put on hold after July 2018. Now, with James Gunn working on another project at another studio, it appears that the movie won’t be released until at least 2022, but even that isn’t 100% certain.
What Is The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Rating?
In 2016, Tim Miller’s Deadpool changed the comic book movie world forever. While it had once been thought that superhero features couldn’t be successful without attracting teenage audiences, the Merc With The Mouth put that theory to rest by making a stunning $783.1 million worldwide with an epic number of swear words, a touch of nudity, and quite a bit of ultra-violence. We’ve seen a few more success stories since then as well, including both Deadpool 2, and Logan, but Marvel Studios has not yet made the plunge when it comes to R-rated blockbusters – and as a result we can definitely assume that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be certified with a PG-13.
As a writer / director, James Gunn does have a number of R-rated credits on his resume, including his first two features – Slither and Super – and there are a few adult references to be found in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That being said, the idea that this series will change gears for its third installment is ridiculous. We won’t actually know what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be rated until the movie is ready to come out, as the MPAA doesn’t do its grading until after a project has been assembled, but you can be certain that this is a blockbuster that will be made with a PG-13 rating in mind.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Writer/Director
This one is a bit of a journey, so strap in.
To the surprise of very, very few, in the weeks leading up to the 2017 release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, James Gunn announced that he had made a deal with Marvel Studios to take the helm of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – confirming that the movie would “conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy.” He wrote the script himself, and wheels were clearly in motion to make the blockbuster one of the earliest films released as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four.
But then the troll attack happened. In the days surrounding San Diego Comic-Con 2018, James Gunn found himself at the center of some controversy due to some nearly decade-old Tweets that had been dug up by those who were, apparently, unhappy with his politics. The social media messages, which featured extremely distasteful jokes about horrendous subjects, put the family-friendly Walt Disney Company in an awkward situation, and they made the decision to remove Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in response.
Of course, that was only the start of the controversy. In the following days, weeks, and months, it wasn’t only fans who voiced thunderous support for James Gunn (with over 400,000 signing a petition for his reinstatement), but also many of his colleagues. The members of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast – including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker – all signed an open letter requesting that Gunn be reinstated, and many fellow directors made their voices heard on the subject as well. When names like Edgar Wright, Taika Waititi, Chris Lord and Phil Miller were proposed as possible replacements at the helm of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the filmmakers let it be known that they stood behind Gunn and had no interest in taking the job.
For more than half a year it was unclear how exactly Marvel Studios would be able to move forward with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but the situation was resolved in mid-March 2019. Following the release of Captain Marvel, the news was made official that a new deal had been made with James Gunn that would see him reinstated as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy capper. This coincided with a few plan changes for the project in terms of scheduling, as Gunn had spent his months being fired working out a deal with Warner Bros. to both write and direct the upcoming The Suicide Squad – which is currently on track for release in August 2021. This is why it’s unlikely we will see the filmmaker’s third epic space opera until 2022 at the earliest.
Now that he’s directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 again, James Gunn will actually become the first filmmaker in Marvel Studios history to complete a full trilogy for the franchise. At this stage it’s unclear exactly what he has planned story-wise for the film – which is no surprise given the secrecy surrounding these projects – but details should start to come out as we get closer to the movie entering production.
The role of Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord completely changed Chris Pratt’s career overnight. One minute he was the goofy, lovable idiot on Parks and Recreation, and the next he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. He is now known in pop culture as one of the “Chrises” (along with Evans, Hemsworth, and Pine), and because of his popularity it’s basically impossible to imagine that he won’t be back for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. There is, however, one little hitch.
Those who saw Avengers: Infinity War know that as things currently stand in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star-Lord is dead. Along with half of the universe, the leader of the Guardians was turned to dust when Thanos managed to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet and snap his fingers. We suspect that the events that go down in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame will change this status, but right now we have no idea if that’s actually true, or really any clue how it might happen.
Like Star-Lord, Gamora is another character who is technically dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this time (prepare to see a lot more of this as we continue), but it’s worth noting that her situation is a bit different. Rather than being dusted in The Decimation, Gamora was killed by Thanos when he was trying to acquire the Soul Stone – with the Mad Titan forced to make a sacrifice of something he loved in order to acquire the precious ingot. Because of this, it’s unclear if Gamora will be brought to life should the surviving members of the Avengers and Guardians save everyone destroyed by the snap, or if her timeline has come to an end.
It would certainly be an earned death story-wise, though the permanence of it would be a serious bummer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as the film would be missing one of the best characters from the first two movies. That being said, even if Gamora is gone for good it’s still possible that Zoe Saldana could make an appearance in the upcoming blockbuster, via dreams, flashbacks, or any other various narrative devices. She did, after all, form an incredibly close relationship with Star-Lord during the four years in which they knew each other, and it’s hard to imagine him just forgetting about her after the whole Thanos ordeal is over.
Drax The Destroyer
During the whole “James Gunn getting fired” saga, nobody stood up for the writer / director the way that Dave Bautista did. Clearly recognizing and fully acknowledging how Gunn very much changed his career by casting him as Drax, Bautista was extremely vocal about how incredibly pissed off the whole situation made him. Even though it could have potentially hurt his career, he wasn’t at all shy about his fury aimed towards Disney, and he even suggested that he would request a release from his contract with the studio if Gunn’s script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 wasn’t used.
Now that James Gunn has been rehired, one can imagine him seriously rewarding Dave Bautista for his incredible loyalty – but exactly how that might play out is currently up the air. Why? Because like the previous two characters mentioned, Drax The Destroyer currently exists as flakes of dust floating around the atmosphere on Titan. Again, there is expectation that he will somehow be resurrected in Avengers: Endgame, and going by the comics he may even be the one to put Thanos down, but we have no evidence right now to suggest that will happen.
Finally, a character who is currently alive! Rocket is one of only two Guardians of the Galaxy who survived The Decimation – left without any of his teammates on Earth in the aftermath of the Battle Of Wakanda. He did what he could to try and help the heroes stop Thanos from completing the Infinity Gauntlet, including assisting Thor in the creation of Stormbreaker, but the efforts weren’t enough at the end of the day, so in Avengers: Endgame we’ll watch as he teams with all of the survivors to try and save the universe.
James Gunn has said many times that Rocket is his favorite character among the Guardians, and the one he most relates to, so it’s pretty easy to imagine that he will have a meaty role to play in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. We can assume that he will once again be brought to life courtesy of performance capture work from Sean Gunn, and with the voice of Bradley Cooper, but beyond that we won’t have any firm expectations for the character until after we see Endgame.
Of all the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, weirdly it’s Groot who has the hardest time staying alive. The original version of the living tree sacrificed himself so that the Guardians of the Galaxy could live through their first movie, and while Baby Groot managed to survive Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the slightly older version of himself – Adolescent Groot – was another character turned to dust in Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s hard to imagine Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 featuring a somber narrative following Rocket in a post-Groot universe, however, and we expect that somehow events will transpire that bring the character back to life. At the very least we hope this to be the case just because we want to see what the next stage of his evolution looks like.
Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, has had a very different trajectory than most in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She started out as a rage-filled antagonist – an ally of Thanos and possessing a true hatred for her sister, Gamora – but her edges definitely softened through the events of both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. And, based on what we know about Avengers: Endgame, it seems like she is going to evolve even more by the time we see her in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Along with Rocket, Nebula is the only surviving member of the Guardians of the Galaxy after The Decimation, though they were in two very different places when the snap went down. In the case of the blue cyborg, she was stranded on Titan along with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and there is a presumption that they will have to work together closely in order to A) get back to Earth, and B) get revenge against Thanos. But will she survive the mission and have the opportunity to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? As of right now that’s a very big question mark.
Brought to the big screen by Pom Klementieff, Mantis became a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy when the team saved her from Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and her special extraterrestrial skills have been put to good use. She is not only a powerful empath, but also can put even the most powerful beings to sleep with her hands – though it takes a good amount of concentration and energy. This was useful for a good minute in the battle against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, but sadly right now she can be counted among the dead Guardians of the Galaxy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Given that she hasn’t exactly been around very long (less time than every other Guardians character), we definitely want to believe that Mantis will be back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but right now we technically don’t have any actual evidence of that being true. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out in Avengers: Endgame, and once we know the details of the fallout we’ll be able to judge the situation better.
Be sure to keep your eye on this guide, as we'll keep it fresh with new details on the development of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as they become available to us!