The last time we checked in with the Guardians, Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), was dealing with a host of parental issues in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Well, we have seen the Guardians a few times since then, including in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and they even traveled alongside Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). Most recently, we celebrated the holidays with them in the television special The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022). And, with this being the final installment of the Guardians trilogy, we can expect that elements from all their past movies will be touched on as the franchise is wrapped up. Before you head to the theater for Vol. 3, read on to brush up on your Guardians history.
Where the Guardians Stand
A lot has happened to the Guardians since their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as they’ve gained new members, lost members, and teamed up with other superheroes across the galaxy. When the Guardians were first introduced, they included Star-Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). A budding romance began between Star-Lord and Gamora, and the empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff) soon joined the team, as did Nebula (Karen Gillan), the adopted daughter of Thanos and Gamora’s sister. While the two sisters were more rivals initially, thanks to their shared, troubled past, their bond grew over the years, and Nebula became one of the team.
They aren’t the only ones with family troubles. Having already lost his mother to cancer, Peter learns that his biological father, Ego, is a Celestial and a living planet. Not only that, but Ego is the one responsible for his mother’s illness in the first place. As if things couldn’t get worse for Quill, his adopted father Yondu (Michael Rooker) sacrifices himself so that the younger might escape. The downward spiral only continues after the Guardians team up with the Avengers, costing Gamora’s life as Thanos kills his own daughter in exchange for an Infinity Stone. Naturally, Quill and Nebula are both distraught and enraged before all the Guardians except Nebula are disintegrated during the Snap.
Of course, they are all resurrected in Avengers: Endgame, except Gamora. So you might find yourself wondering how she is alive again in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Well, she isn’t. A younger version of Gamora from an alternate timeline will be joining the team, one who never had a romantic relationship with Quill. In addition to a new Gamora, the Guardians have adopted Cosmo the Spacedog – a dog with psionic abilities – as their own, and as Mantis has grown stronger in her powers, she reveals that she and Quill are half-sisters, with Ego being her father as well. With both old and new characters alike, there are certainly plenty of storylines in play for Volume 3 of the franchise, and with Gamora herself being out-of-time, the implications for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe are undoubtedly large.
The Sovereign and Adam Warlock
While there is already enough family drama to fill a movie, naturally there has to be an antagonist causing even more problems. Do you remember the Sovereign from Volume 2? Well, they aren’t about to let those batteries that Rocket stole go unanswered for. Not only is their leader Ayesha back with a vengeance, but she has created an artificial being with the explicit purpose of destroying the Guardians this time – previously hinted at in the end credits scene of the second installment.
While Ayesha might task Warlock with taking down the Guardians, he is still figuring out his own moral compass, so whether he will choose to defeat the Guardians or instead join forces with them by the end of the movie, remains to be seen. Though, it’s worth mentioning that Warlock’s key feature in the comics is that he bears the Soul Stone. Yes, the Soul Stone that, in the MCU at least, Thanos received after sacrificing Gamora. But this is the Multiverse Saga that we are in now, and we know that multiple versions of each Infinity Stone exist – the Time Variance Authority even keeps them as paperweights in the first season of Loki. While Warlock could have just another version of the Soul Stone, it’s possible that he holds another Stone in the center of his forehead – much like another artificial hero that we all know and love. Now that the Multiverse has been unleashed, Adam Warlock could introduce us to an all-new Infinity Stone – the Ego Gem – which could have drastic consequences for all our heroes across the Multiverse.
What’s Going on With Rocket?
But if Adam Warlock isn’t the real big bad in Volume 3, then who is? To dig into that, we have to go back to the very first Guardians movie. In case you’ve forgotten during the ordeal with Infinity Stones and Multiverses, Rocket is really known as Subject 89P13, genetically engineered by the High Evolutionary in an abusive, repetitive fashion. While the High Evolutionary has yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’ll make his debut in Volume 3, played by Chukwudi Iwuiji, and as is the case with any mad scientist that tries to experiment to create “better” life-forms, he’s not really the nicest person in the galaxy. So, with the High Evolutionary coming into the picture, we can expect that Rocket’s storyline will be at the center of the film, and that his choices will have a lasting impact on what the future of the Guardians lineup looks like. Naturally, him and Rocket aren’t exactly best friends, and with Rocket’s penchant for weapons, we can expect that there will be some tension and firing between the two.
Guardians of the Galaxy Musical Cues
It’s just not a Guardians movie without an awesome soundtrack – specifically, without an Awesome Mix. Beginning in the first installment, Peter Quill travels around the galaxy with a mixtape consisting of 1970s songs curated by his late mother, which end up punctuating the thematic and emotional beats of the movie. Ranging from David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” to Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child,” the mixtape serves as Quill’s last connection to his mother – telling her own story to her child – while also perfectly narrating the Guardians’ journey right up until the end of the movie. And then, surprise, Peter unwraps the parting gift from his mother to find a whole new mixtape: Awesome Mix Vol. 2. As is the case with the first tape, this one also consists of 1960s and 1970s songs to punctuate important beats in the film. Though in an interesting departure from the first two, Awesome Mix Vol. 3 is the first to include songs from later decades, indicating that Peter, or whoever has made the latest tape, has found newer music. And in a further departure, whereas the first two films opened with the upbeat “Come and Get Your Love” and “Mr. Blue Sky,” Volume 3 will open with an acoustic version of Radiohead’s far more melancholic and heavy “Creep” from the 1990s. Don’t worry though, because it’s not all doom and gloom on the soundtrack, which also includes Heart’s energetic “Crazy on You” and Beastie Boys’ rebellious “No Sleep till Brooklyn,” but it does indicate that the tone of the final Guardians movie will deviate from the comedy that we’ve seen before with the characters.