endgame sets up guardians of the galaxy vol. 3

One of the most refreshing things about Avengers: Endgame is how conclusive it feels. Most Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have endings that leave lots of room for sequels, and follow-up movies to come. But Endgame puts a nice, neat bow on its narrative, resulting in a rewarding cinematic experience. But of course, the MCU will continue onward. Which means there had to be some set-up for what comes next.

Of all the upcoming MCU films, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that receives the biggest jump-start. Some of the final moments of the latest Avengers film plant seeds of what we can expect from James Gunn‘s triumphant return to the MCU. And the potential is limitless. Spoilers follow.

Starsky and Hutch reboot

The Return of James Gunn

First, a disclaimer: there’s no guarantee any of the hints dropped in Avengers: Endgame will pan out in Guardians vol. 3. We know that Gunn completed the script for the film almost a full year ago. We also know the third Guardians outing has gone down a bumpy road to the big screen. Gunn, whose unique voice is essential to making the Guardians films so memorable, was fired from the franchise last summer due to offensive tweets. His firing bought the pre-production on Guardians vol. 3 to a halt.

By March of this year, however, Gunn was re-hired. The full details of how this came to be are still a mystery. Gunn had a meeting with Disney soon after his firing with the hopes of getting a second chance, only for Disney to stand firm in their decision. It really did seem as if his involvement with the series was at an end. But now, he’s back. He even has an executive producer credit on Endgame. It’s safe to assume that Gunn and Marvel are once again on good terms.

Gunn’s Vol. 3 script was always going to be used for the third film. But having Gunn back in the director’s chair will help form a more coherent vision, with the writer-director having maximum input in the project, and where the story goes. Gunn’s executive producer credit on Endgame suggests he had some sort of input into that film’s storyline – e.p. credits are often awarded to individuals with some sort of creative input. With this in mind, it’s safe to assume Gunn’s input involved some sort of story shaping regarding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Which in turn indicates that the story elements set-up at the end of Endgame will carry over into the third Guardians film.

Asgardians of the Galaxy

Asgardians of the Galaxy 

In Avengers: Infinity War, Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor first hooked up with the Guardians, and the results were nothing short of delightful. Hemsworth, and Thor, have come a long way since the start of the MCU. At one point, I would’ve honestly said, without any hesitation, that Thor was the least interesting Avenger. Even Hawkeye was more compelling! But the makers of the MCU (well, Taika Waititi, specifically) realized that Hemsworth had a natural gift for comedy, and enabled the actor to break free with Thor: Ragnarok. But Hemsworth is also quite good at the dramatic stuff, too. And his arc from Ragnarok, to Infinity War, to Endgame, is one of the more rewarding chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Balancing comedy and drama, Hemsworth has made Thor the MVP of the franchise.

At the end of Endgame, Thor has come a long way. He’s gotten over his grief and self-loathing, and he’s a changed man, both mentally and physically (side-note: please keep Thor chubby for a while; he can get his amazing abs back eventually, but I demand at least one more film of chonky-boy Thor). He hands off his New Asgard kingly duties to Valkyrie, and climbs aboard the Guardians ship. There, he immediately gets into a comical pissing-contest with Quill (Chris Pratt). It’s funny as hell, and a perfect set-up for Guardians vol. 3.

It’s yet to be announced if Hemsworth is joining the cast of the film, but it would be a major missed opportunity to jettison this scenario immediately. Making Thor a new member of the Guardians (or the Asgardians of the Galaxy, as he calls them) is a fantastic idea. It would allow Hemsworth and Pratt to bounce off each other as Thor and Quill both try to assert their dominance, and would help add an exciting new dynamic to the team. In fact, I’d be a lot more excited for Thor to continue as a Guardian than for another standalone Thor movie. Just get Valkyrie involved in there somewhere, and we’re set.

With all this in mind, I’m guessing Vol. 3 will involve the continuing, comical power struggle between Quill and Thor, with the two of them learning to work together, and with Thor – who thinks he’s completely without a family at this point – finding a new familial bond with the Quill and the gang. Endgame also finds a way to keep the previously dead Loki alive, by having the Loki from the past escape from the end of the first Avengers thanks to the tesseract. With this in mind, you could even throw Loki into the mix for Guardians 3, although that might make things a bit too complicated, and start to make the movie feel more like a Thor sequel and less like a third Guardians.

Gamora snap

The Search for Gamora

The death of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Infinity War was treated as a big, dramatic moment. While the scene in question worked from a narrative standpoint, I had a hard time being too concerned about it simply because I knew Gamora couldn’t really be dead. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 was already a given at that point, so it was safe to assume she’d survive – somehow.

Well, those cheeky bastards the Russo Brothers found a way to have their cake and eat it too. Gamora is still dead at the end of Endgame. But she’s also alive, too! The Russos pull this off by having a Gamora from the past – one who has yet to fully turn to the side of good – being transported to the present, along with her pop Thanos and past (evil) and present (good!) versions of Nebula.

After the huge, climactic fight scene, Thanos and his army are scattered to the wind, literally. But Gamora lives on…only to vanish. She doesn’t know who Quill is, and when he tries to embrace her, she gives him a swift kick – which is fine, really, because Quill is kind of lame. And yet, while this Gamora has no connection with Star-Lord, he still pines for her. And she’s out there, somewhere.

In one of the final scenes, Quill is literally searching for Gamora on his ship’s computer. This immediately made me think that the third entry in the Guardians series was going to follow the third entry in another sci-fi film series – Star Trek. Specifically Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Just as the third Trek film found the Enterprise on a quest to find the previously-dead Spock, Guardians vol. 3 will have the Guardians searching for Gamora. Whether or not they locate her right away, or spend the bulk of the film looking for her, remains to be seen.

nebula and rocket

Nebula and Rocket Should Kiss

Look, I’m not big on ‘shipping, but I’m just putting this out there: Nebula and Rocket need to fall in love and get it on. I don’t want to hear you throw around the term bestiality, either, because he’s not even a real raccoon (right?), and she’s some sort of robot (I think?). In other words, their love is fair game, and it would be perfectly acceptable if they were to smooch.

One of my favorite moments in Endgame is a quiet scene at the beginning where Rocket comforts a distraught Nebula, and they both look absolutely miserable together. These two angry, misanthropic space-monsters were made for each other, and they deserve to find love and happiness. Let them kiss, god damn it. This needs to happen.

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