When will Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 be released? Plot, cast and release date

What to expect from the upcoming Marvel sequel following the firing - and shock re-hiring - of director James Gunn

L to R: Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)

DIsney, Marvel, sky pics, TL

Fans have had to wait a long time for the return of the Guardians of the Galaxy, with the superheroic outer-space team held back by a series of delays as well as the firing and surprise re-hiring of director James Gunn.


But when will we see Star-Lord, Rocket and the rest of the Guardians back in action? And what exactly was the behind-the-scenes drama that caused such a lot of troubles for James Gunn? Check out everything you need to know about the Marvel threequel below.

When is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 released in cinemas?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s release is currently unknown, though given that the film hasn’t even started shooting yet we could still be in for a long wait.

Currently, there are Marvel films scheduled until mid-2022, so it seems likely the film would slot in at some point after that assuming that filming takes place relatively soon.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there was originally a plan for the movie to film in 2020 – however, Gunn’s commitment to rival DC movie The Suicide Squad (which he took on after being originally fired from Guardians), along with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has delayed the film, which may now shoot in 2021.

Gunn is also now set to make a spin-off TV series from The Suicide Squad starring John Cena’s antihero Peacemaker – however, the director has said this won’t cause any additional delays.

Previously, star Chris Pratt assured fans that the film was still in the pipeline.

“I promise there’ll be a third movie,” he told Variety at the Lego Movie 2 premiere. “I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like, but I know everyone on board is just eager to give the fans what they want and wrap up a trilogy in a meaningful way.”

What’s the film about?

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel, HF)
Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel)

The sequel to the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, Vol. 3 will tell the continuing story of the intergalactic “A-Holes” who saved the galaxy from Ronan the Accuser and Ego in previous movies.

It’s expected that the film will deal with the fallout from Avengers: Endgame, which saw the Guardians help defeat Thanos before heading back into space, while also ushering in a more cosmic age for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

However, given the long delay it may be that the Endgame connection will have faded from fans’ collective memory, meaning the film will jump off from one of the other upcoming Marvel movies (for example, the similarly spacefaring Captain Marvel sequel, currently set for a July 2022 release).

Director James Gunn previously suggested that the film could involve the popular comic-book character Adam Warlock (who was teased in the previous movie) and the return of Elisabeth Debicki’s Vol. 2 character Ayesha, as well as providing an “epic conclusion” to the story that would draw this version of the team to a close.

It’s also expected that the film will deal with the fallout of lead character Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) death, and the presence of a time-displaced younger version of the assassin who the team might now be searching for (look, if you watched Avengers: Endgame it makes sense).

Notably, Chris Pratt has hinted (via MTV) that we may see Star Lord in the MCU again before Guardians Vol. 3, which would obviously impact the film’s storyline somewhat and could help tide fans over during the long wait for the movie.

While answering fan questions on Instagram, Gunn mentioned who his favourite characters to write are and hinted at which of them have the most interesting stories in Vol. 3.

“I probably liked writing Nebula and Rocket’s arcs most (still continuing into Vol 3),” he revealed. “But I also think we have great things coming up for the others, like Quill and Mantis. All of their arcs take place over the three films as opposed to in only the individual movies.”

And maybe Chris Hemsworth’s Thor will be involved (see below)! The possibilities are endless.

Will Thor be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?


The end of Avengers: Endgame saw Avengers founder Thor heading into space with the Guardians and sparring with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord over leadership, and Hemsworth has said he’d be open to reprising his role in the sequel.

“I’d play that character again,” Hemsworth told CinemaBlend. “I love it so much – especially if there’s something unique to do again with it. I felt like the last three films were very, very different each time. It really felt like a totally different character.

“I’ll work with any of those guys. Asgardians Of The Galaxy. That’s actually great. You might’ve just got me my next job.”

Whether Thor will actually join the team or will just be dropped off somewhere to star in Thor: Love and Thunder remains to be seen, however – as does whether he’ll be keeping the beefier physique he picked up in Endgame.

However, Endgame’s screenwriters have suggested that they didn’t envisage Thor shifting the weight immediately, so he could stay a similar size for the Guardians sequel.

“[The possibility of weight loss] came up but we were really adamant about not doing that because I think that would treat it more like a joke,” Endgame writer Stephen McFeely told the LA Times.

“And the idea is that this is who he is now and he’s still a hero. And when he calls down the lightning and gets both hammers [in Endgame], all it does is put a suit on him and twist his beard into a braid, it doesn’t magically take 200 pounds off.”

“And I think what his mother tells him, ‘Don’t be who you’re supposed to be, be the best version of who you are,’ includes that,” added co-screenwriter Christopher Markus.

“We didn’t want to treat the weight gain like the issue that he needed to get over. Like ‘Thor got fat and now he needs to go on a diet.’

“No, he needs to feel OK about himself no matter who he is.”

What’s happening with James Gunn?

James Gunn
James Gunn (Getty)

Well, this is still the biggest news around this film at the moment, as James Gunn (writer/director of the first two Guardians films) was sensationally fired – then re-hired –  after 10-year-old tweets resurfaced in which he made dark jokes related to child abuse and rape.

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said of the firing: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible.

“[They are] inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Following this, rumours abounded about who could replace Gunn in the director’s chair while his cast signed an open letter asking Disney to reinstate him (with actor Dave Bautista a particularly staunch defender) – but then unexpectedly it was reported that Disney had rethought Gunn’s firing, with the director later confirming on Twitter that he was back working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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

“I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all.

“I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Love to you all.”

In a candid interview with Deadline, the director spoke in greater detail about his shock sacking from the film last year, revealing he thought it could be the end of his career.

“Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that,” he explained.

“I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humour, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there. I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility.

“It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.”

He added that it was support from the cast, and from his friends, that helped him through the difficult period.

“And then came this outpouring of real love. From my girlfriend Jen; my producer and my agents; Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out; Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me. And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong. That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming,” he said.

Is there a Guardians of the Galaxy 3 script?

Yes – and while Gunn might be a while before directing the new film, fans can take some comfort from the fact that the script is already complete.

“Yeah I have [read it],” star Chris Pratt said. “It’s off the chain. It’s so good. It’s so good.”

More recently, though, Sean Gunn – brother of James, who played Kraglin in both Guardians movies, Avengers: Endgame and also performed motion capture work for Rocket and Groot – told Comic Book that he expects the script to be rewritten again before filming begins. “I think my brother may do…he may do another pass,” he said.

Who’s in the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel, HF

Fans can probably expect Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora, specifically the time-travelling younger version), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Vin Diesel (Groot) and Pom Klementieff (Mantis) to be back to their outer-space adventures in Vol. 3.

Dave Baustista is also expected to be back, though he’s been vocal about the fact that Marvel weren’t interested in a spin-off for his character Drax and that he’s been entertaining other offers from their arch-rivals DC.

Vol. 2 villain Elizabeth Debicki is also keen to reprise her character Ayesha, last seen plotting against the Guardians in a post-credits scene.

“I want to, I want to. I love (Ayesha),” she told ComicBook.com.

“I actually, really, really loved playing her, and I loved making that movie and working with everybody and James, and it was… it was a really fun job for me. So I hope so.

“I, sometimes I just think about her golden throne and her golden dress, just waiting somewhere in the wings. I would love, even if I just sort of scooch on for a second. I mean, I would love to come back.”


And given Gunn’s past form, it seems more than likely that some truly weird and wonderful cosmic characters from the Marvel back catalogue will be introduced as well. Time to get researching…