Marvel Studios fans seeing the news that Star-Lord actor Chris Pratt already has returned home from the Australian set of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder might be confused as to how or why the Guardians of the Galaxy team members are wrapped so soon on the sequel. Marvel films take months at a time to film, with cast secluded in far-off locations. Particularly in the time of a pandemic, country hopping is not the norm, so it’s unlikely Pratt flew all the way home to California to spend Valentine’s Day with is wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, just to have to turn back around and be back on the Thor: Love and Thunder set. He’s likely 100% wrapped.

And that makes sense, because the Guardians likely are only appearing in a cameo role in Thor: Love and Thunder, a necessity because of a scene in Avengers: Endgame that painted the story into a bit of a corner.

People’s report about Chris Pratt being home for Valentine’s Day confirmed our theory that there was some reverse engineering happening in the MCU, thanks to schedule swaps and a firing that led to a re-hiring. First, recall the ending of Avengers: Endgame. We saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth) leaving Earth with his new cohorts, the Guardians, creating a rift in that team dynamic that likely was going to be explored in the next movie… Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.

That’s right. When Avengers: Endgame was in production, planning out its finale, James Gunn was still directing the third Guardians of the Galaxy film, and fans expected it to land in theaters in May of 2020. Gunn’s movie probably would have begun with Thor as a team member of the Guardians, or at least fighting by their side. We don’t have an idea of how much of a role that Hemsworth’s “As-Guardian” would have played in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, but the characters would have kicked off together.

Then Marvel and Disney (temporarily) fired James Gunn because of insensitive Tweets on his timeline, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 went on the backburner.

Forced to revamp its programming, Marvel Studios unveiled a new slate at San Diego Comic Con in 2019, including Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder. It would introduce Natalie Portman as a female Thor, and bring back Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Except there was one storytelling issue.

Thor was last seen with the Guardians at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

So what do you do? You come up with a new solution for Thor: Love and Thunder that gets the God of Thunder from the Guardians’ ship to whatever was supposed to happen in his pending sequel. And that explains why Chris Pratt already is home from Australia, and why Karen Gillan already is back in the UK quarantining as she prepares to film a non-Marvel project. Additionally, Pom Klementioff, who plays Mantis in the MCU, shared on social media that she is out of Australia already, so whatever the Guardians filmed, it was short, and they are on their way.

Marvel Studios is ramping up its content coming out of the quarantine. This year alone, fans have been enjoying WandaVision on Disney+, and will transition into Falcon and the Winter Soldier, followed by Loki. On the film side, the studio plans to release four movies in Black Widow, Shang-chi, The Eternals and a third Spider-Man. In order to see how much screentime the Guardians of the Galaxy get in Thor: Love and Thunder, you will have to wait until May 6, 2022. What a way to kick off that year’s summer blockbuster season.

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