The following contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame**. Big ones. Seriously, if you don't want spoilers, try reading our** spoiler-free review instead.
We all went into Avengers: Endgame expecting it to be the end of many stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we were not disappointed. Various characters saw their arcs come to a close; some in truly wonderful ways and some in bittersweet ways. However, one story we knew would be continuing was the Guardians of the Galaxy's. Their third film is back on track, so we know it will happen, but after the end of Endgame, exactly what that movie will be is a major question mark.
For a long time, everything about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was a big question. Last summer, James Gunn was publicly fired from the production and it was unclear if Marvel would even use the script he had already completed for the film. However, the recent announcement that Gunn had actually been hired back months ago, and that the film would move forward, changed all that. The film was originally slated for a 2020 release, and now it clearly won't meet that date since Gunn's working on The Suicide Squad next, but it will happen.
James Gunn announced in June of 2018 that the script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was completed. While Avengers: Endgame went back to do some reshoots last fall, principal photography finished back in 2017. Even if James Gunn wasn't a producer of the last two Avengers films, and he was, he would be aware what the plan for Endgame was.
This is especially because as James Gunn was writing, he was expecting his movie to be in front of cameras about now. There was clearly no plan for some other movie to come along and change the situation before Guardians 3 came out.
What's Going On With Gamora?
We were already prepared for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 to be a much different story. At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Zoe Saldana's Gamora was dead, and while the possibility that she could be resurrected was always there, it was far from certain it would happen.
What actually did happen to the Guardians in Endgame is perhaps even stranger than than having a dead main character. Gamora appears to still be alive, though it's a younger version of herself who has traveled in time and thus doesn't have a connection to the Guardians team anymore.
While the last two Avengers films brought the Guardians of the Galaxy together with the rest of thew MCU heroes, the first two of their films left them separated from the rest of the franchise's overall story. The characters were doing their own thing, which led to a pair of movies where a group of emotionally damaged people began to heal by finding each other. While the films never lacked the comic book superhero action that we loved, they were surprisingly mature stories about growth.
While there's no reason that Guardians 3 can't still be that, it appears it's also going to be a very different movie than what fans were probably expecting.
Gamora is now lacking the growth that the other Guardians have been through and the help they have given each other. The years she spent with Quill and the rest changed who she was. The end of Endgame showed Star-Lord searching for Gamora, and one assumes that's where the next Guardians film may pick up, with the team searching for their missing member, even though she doesn't think of herself as part of that team.
It certainly has the potential to be a very unique story. Peter Quill will want to rekindle his relationship with Gamora since he still loves her. Let's also not forget that Peter Quill learned a lot from his friends, mostly from Gamora. The idea that in a potentially new relationship, Quill will be the mature one, is certainly something we didn't think we'd see, and it has interesting implications for the next film.
Gamora's journey in the Guardians 3 is clearly going to be something very different. She's starting out essentially from the beginning of the franchise again, and whatever she experiences between the end of Endgame and the beginning of Guardians 3 is going to change her in entirely different ways.
Is Thor Joining The Guardians of the Galaxy?
Of course, the biggest X-factor for the future of the Guardians is Thor. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, we see that he has hitched a ride on board the ship, and, based on his battle with Quill, he might be looking to stay for a while. How will he change the dynamics of the team that so many love? He's used to being in charge and we've already seen the beginning of a power struggle between him and Star-Lord. Also, Thor is insanely powerful compared to the Guardians. How will that change the battles we know we're going to see?
Of course, having said that, Thor joining the Guardians makes a lot of sense from a perspective of Thor's narrative. He took the loss to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War harder than anybody, and while the damage has been undone, he's still clearly lost. All of the Guardians are lost, so they find themselves together.
At the same time, technically Thor says he's only getting a ride form the Guardians, so perhaps he'll be dropped off someplace before the new movie starts.
Will The Title Change?
There is one other way that Endgame may have drastically changed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: the title. While James Gunn had previously confirmed that would be the name of the movie, we now have to wonder if that's the case. Technically, Quill trademark music now comes digitally, not on a mixtape, so the "volume" reference doesn't actually make sense anymore.
In addition, Thor actually refers to the new group as the "Asgardians of the Galaxy." It's a cute name, but it's also the name of an actual comic series from Marvel. One has to wonder if it could become the name of the upcoming film. Alternatively, depending on what happens in the next movie, it could become the name of the franchise going forward, as we know that Part Three will largely be the end of the story for the group of characters that started together in the first film.
Based on the end of Avengers: Endgame, the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie might not end up being exactly what we thought it would be, but the potential for it might actually be stronger than it was before the end of the MCU's Phase 3.