Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Release date, cast, plot, rumors

The Guardians will be back, but with a new director.

Marvel Studios

It might be the biggest save the Guardians of the Galaxy have pulled off to date. Series director and writer James Gunn is back on the film after being fired in 2018 after off-color tweets sparked online outrage.

“I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months,” Gunn tweeted on March 15. “I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be.” 

View image on Twitter

Ever since last summer when Gunn was fired, the future of the film has been in turmoil. Fan petitions urged Disney to rehire him, and the stars signed an open letter urging the studio to bring Gunn back.  

The rehiring comes as a surprise to some. Back in August, Variety reported  that due to the content of the tweets and Disney’s family-friendly image, he was unlikely to be rehired, even though Gunn had already completed a script for the third film.

So what turned the tide? Deadline reports that Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn was swayed by “Gunn’s public apology and his handling of the situation.”

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Release date, production info

So what does this mean for the film’s release date? It’s as up in the air as Star-Lord’s ship, the Milano (named for Alyssa!). Before Gunn’s firing, many thought filming would begin in fall of 2019 for a 2020 theatrical release. But with the shakeup, and now his return, we’re likely looking at a whole new timeline.

Filming locations, of course, aren’t yet known, but the first film shot primarily in London, the second in Atlanta. Guardians Vol 2. reportedly used all 18 of the sound stages at Pinewood Studios Atlanta. The third film, whenever it’s made, is expected to stick to Atlanta for space reasons.

“We shot the first Guardians in England, but because Pinewood Atlanta has so much soundstage space, we were able to have the entire production base on the lot,” Gunn said in the production notes for Vol. 2. “Even though a lot of the film is CGI. I like to have as many practical sets as we can and make the environments as real as possible so it balances out the CGI elements.”

Cast: Who’s who?

Plot news, rumors and theories

Who’s dead? If you saw Avengers: Infinity War, (spoilers ahead), you know Thanos killed off many of Marvel’s heroes, and the Guardians did not go unscathed. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Mantis and Groot all seem to be dead. But Avengers 4 could bring back any or all of them. All except Gamora were dissolved when Thanos finally acquired all the infinity stones and “rebalanced” the universe. Gamora’s death seems more final — her adoptive father, Thanos, threw her off a cliff to create the sacrifice that wins him the soul gem. But some fans argue she could be held within the soul gem, and thus may be freed later. Let’s hope, for poor Peter Quill’s sake.

Madam, I’m Adam: Superhero Adam Warlock was hinted at in one of the after-credits scenes shown at the end of Guardians Vol. 2. Ayesha faces a kind of cocoon containing a person, and announces, “I think I will call him … Adam.” Adam Warlock has been a Marvel character since 1967, and Gunn had mentioned wanting to include him in Vol. 3. 

Don’t bug me: Before the firing/rehiring, Gunn did tell a young fan on Twitter that sweetly naive Mantis would return for Vol. 3.

Check the calendar: Gunn did promise Vol. 3 would occur sometime after Avengers: Endgame, which makes sense, since we’re pinning hopes on that film to bring most of the Guardians back to life.

Sly Stallone could be back, eventually: Sylvester Stallone played Stakar in Vol. 2, and when that film came out, Gunn told the Toronto Sun that he wanted to see more of the character. But there weren’t high expectations to see him in Vol. 3. “I’m not sure about him appearing in Vol. 3, we’ll have to see about that, but it’s our plan to see more of Stallone,” Gunn said.

Let the music play: Guardians Vol. 1 and 2 were acclaimed for their retro soundtracks, chosen by Gunn himself. Before the firing/rehiring, he was already well on the way to choosing the music for the third film — well, kind of. A tweet he sent in 2017 claimed he had narrowed down the song list to 181 choices, and by October 2017, he said the soundtrack tunes were almost all chosen.  As for Gunn’s final choices, he once told Cinema Blend he pulled from a master list of tunes he thought Star-Lord’s late mother, Meredith, would like.

First published Aug. 6 at 9:35 a.m. PT.
Update on Aug. 31 at 2:36 p.m.: Adds information confirming the film is in limbo.
Update on March 15 at 1:12 p.m. PT: Updated with Gunn’s reinstatement. 

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