Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date: Latest news on James Gunn’s MCU return

What to expect from the upcoming Marvel sequel.

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

DIsney, Marvel, sky pics, TL

It’s been a long time coming but progress on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is finally picking up steam.

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The previous film came out all the way back in 2017 and while the loveable misfits made memorable guest appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, fans are eager for them to take centre-stage once more.

Fortunately, that looks to be happening soon as director James Gunn has confirmed filming will commence on the next wacky Guardians adventure in 2021, which suggests the blockbuster could be eyeing a release date in late 2022.

In the meantime, several members of the Guardians are set to show up in next year’s Thor: Love and Thunder, with Chris Pratt recently spotted on set in an image widely shared on social media.

Read on for everything we know so far about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s release date has not yet been confirmed, but given that the film hasn’t even started shooting yet we are probably in for a long wait.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there was originally a plan for the movie to film in 2020 – however, Gunn’s commitment to DC movie The Suicide Squad, along with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in delays.

Gunn has now confirmed (via Twitter) that filming will start in 2021, after previously stating that the “script is written and most of the production heads have been hired”.

In light of this, it’s possible that we could see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 towards the end of next year, given that Marvel’s slate currently extends to mid-2022.

Most recently, Gunn has been working on a Suicide Squad spin-off streaming series starring John Cena’s antihero Peacemaker, but assured fans that this has not delayed work on Guardians 3.

What is Guardians of the Galaxy 3 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 Thor: Love and Thunder).

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 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.”

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

Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel, HF

Fans can expect Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), 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 return, 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 offers from their rivals at 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.

“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.

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

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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.”

However, given how the release dates have worked out, it now seems more likely that the Guardians could cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder, before parting ways with the Mighty Avenger to have their own adventure.

What’s happening with James Gunn?

James Gunn
James Gunn (Getty)

Marvel made headlines in 2018 when James Gunn (writer/director of the first two Guardians films) was shockingly fired 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).

Perhaps it was this backlash that led Disney to re-hire Gunn just a short while later, with the director confirming on Twitter that he was back working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as of March 2019.

“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.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 is coming soon to cinemas. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.