Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 has been a long time coming, but an official 2023 release date for the third and final instalment is finally on the horizon.
The long-awaited film will also mark the "end" of the Guardians as we know them, according to franchise star Karen Gillan.
"We're kind of coming to the end of this chapter of the Guardians as we know it. So there's a bittersweet nostalgic feeling settling in, for sure, as we film it," she told SyFy Wire.
"We're closing out a chapter so you have to come and watch us close that out. It's going to be amazing and sad."
The sequel began principal photography in November 2021 and is expected to wrap up sometime later this month (April 2022).
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com in March, new cast addition Will Poulter (Adam Warlock) said he was "on the home stretch" of filming Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Director James Gunn recently said the set has "a lot of sadness" and that people were in "near daily-tears" about it being the final instalment.
A Twitter user asked: “Mr Gunn, how are the vibes on set?”
In reply, James tweeted: “Honestly they’re great, I love this cast and crew, but there is also a lot of sadness and near-daily tears knowing this is the last Guardians movie for most of us.”
Read on for everything you need to know about the third instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy. Be warned: some spoilers for Guardians 3 follow.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 release date
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will arrive in cinemas on Friday 5th May 2023, a full six years after the second film was initially released.
Director James Gunn confirmed that filming on the sequel had begun on Monday 8th November 2021.
Sharing a picture of a Polaroid showing him posing with the cast, the three-time Guardians director wrote on Twitter: "It’s been a strange & long & at times challenging journey to get here, but the obstacles along the way have only made this moment more blissful. Back on set with my Guardians family for the first day of shooting."
In addition, Star-Lord himself Chris Pratt teased fans with a behind-the-scenes look in October 2021, addressing the camera from a production trailer.
"What's up everybody, Chris Pratt here," he said. "I'm on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3 and this is day one – that's why these sick-ass mutton chops are back, pretty sweet. I'm very excited to be here."
However, Gunn later clarified on Twitter that filming hadn't officially started and that Pratt was simply participating in "camera tests and stuff".
"Chris is on set and we're rehearsing and doing camera tests and stuff - so it's his 'first day' like it was my 'first day' many months ago - but actual shooting is a while off. Btw, I didn't even know about this video when I first posted this," he revealed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, there was originally a plan for the movie to film in 2020, but the temporary firing of Gunn and his later commitment to The Suicide Squad, as well as the coronavirus pandemic all contributed to driving the film down Marvel's slate.
After production wrapped on The Suicide Squad, it was announced that Gunn was working on a spin-off HBO Max series about John Cena's Peacemaker, but assured fans this would not interfere with progress on Guardians Vol 3.
What is Guardians of the Galaxy 3 about?
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, but losing contact with one of their own in the process (Zoe Saldana's time-displaced Gamora).
However, given the long delay it may be that the Endgame connection will have faded from fans' collective memory, meaning the film could be more strongly influenced by Thor: Love and Thunder, in which the Guardians will cameo.
It has now been confirmed that the story will involve popular comic book character Adam Warlock (who was teased in the previous movie), as played by Will Poulter, a being created by Elizabeth Debicki’s gold-skinned character, Ayesha to get revenge against the titular team in the previous film. It is expected that the titular team will face off against Warlock in the upcoming 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."
Nebula actor Karen Gillan seemingly agrees that Nebula's arc ends on a strong note, revealing to Collider that she and co-star Pom Klementieff (Mantis) were in tears after their first read-through.
"We read it together and we both cried and laughed, but there was full tears," she said. "It’s incredible, I think it’s James’ strongest work yet with the Guardians and it’s just brilliant. It’s brilliant and it’s emotional and it’s funny and it’s all of those things that you want.”
Who will die in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3?
It’s been expected for some time that Guardians 3 will be something of an ending for this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, with fans speculating whether their MCU favourites will ride off into the sunset or meet a grisly end.
Sadly, it looks like it might be more of the latter, with Gunn recently hinting that Guardians 3 could be the end of the line for several MCU favourites.
"This is the end for us, the last time people will see this team of Guardians," Gunn told Deadline's Hero Nation Podcast, regarding the upcoming movie. "It's big; it's so, so big and dark, and different from what people might be expecting it to be." He added that, "I just want to be true to the characters, the story and give people the wrap-up that they deserve for the story. That's always a little bit scary; I'm doing my best."
Bautista has also confirmed that the team is "wrapping up" with this entry (via Phase Zero).
The former WWE star has vocally insisted that he is unlikely to return as Drax after Guardians Vol. 3, but it remains to be seen whether the character will get a happy ending or make a noble sacrifice.
Things are looking brighter for everyone's favourite talking tree Groot, as Vin Diesel has teased (via Phase Zero) that the third film will see the Guardians travel to his homeworld: Planet X.
How many MCU favourites will ride off into the sunset and how many will end up six feet under? Viewers will have to wait to find out.
Who’s in the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3?
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.
And now Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 star Zoe Saldana has revealed a first look at her return as Gamora.
The actress shared multiple pictures of herself on Instagram at the end of 2021, featuring many of her upcoming projects including the third Guardians of the Galaxy film.
The selfie gave fans a glimpse at Saldana’s new Gamora makeup, which is slightly different from how audiences last saw her in Avengers: Endgame.
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."
The latest Guardians update suggests that Debicki will get her wish, as Will Poulter has been officially cast as Adam Warlock, a cosmic being created by Ayesha and the Sovereign to destroy their rivals.
After a long search for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s Adam Warlock, the golden Adonis from the comics, the MCU has sifted through some of Hollywood’s biggest names to add Will Poulter to its ranks.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit claimed that Bridgerton‘s Regé-Jean Page and 1917's George MacKay were also considered for the role, but ultimately Poulter bagged the gig just a few weeks before filming was set to kick off.
Poulter spoke out about his casting, telling RadioTimes.com: "I really can’t say that much at all, as I’m sure you know, but I’m very honoured to have been invited into the Guardians of the Galaxy family and to be part of the Marvel Universe.
“I think the thing that attracted me was, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise in particular is like one of the most creative and unique ones out there,” he added.
Poulter continued: “And I’m very grateful to James Gunn for entrusting me with this really respected and sought after character. I just hope I do it justice.”
The actor also revealed he had been undergoing an intense training regime to prepare for his new role ahead of filming kicking off.
“I’ve just come to terms with everything that’s required now. Filming starts in a month or so, so [I’m] definitely locking in and training my focus on that role and that role alone,” he told GQ.
Talking about how much the new role means to him, he added: “It’s still sinking in for me. I’m very, very honoured to have been welcomed into the Marvel family, and especially into a franchise like Guardians which I’ve admired for a long time.”
In addition, actor Chukwudi lwuji has joined the cast in an as yet undisclosed role.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he teased some details about his secret MCU role.
“Powerful,” he said. “Extremely powerful. Complex. James and I were talking about it, but he’s certainly one of, if not the most complex characters we’ve seen in the freaking Marvel universe. So, he’s deeply complex and deeply powerful, and I hope intriguing. I hope I bring that to it.”
The actor was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 back in November 2021, shortly after Poulter was cast as Warlock.
“Chuk has indeed joined the cast,” director James Gunn wrote on Twitter. “After working with him on Peacemaker I wasn’t about to let go of one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with – so I gave him the role most every big name actor in Hollywood wanted."
What do we know about Poulter's character Adam Warlock?
Adam Warlock is a fan-favourite Marvel character and one of the most powerful warriors in the universe.
However, details surrounding Adam Warlock in the third film are thin on the ground and it isn’t even known whether the character will be good or bad.
Guardians of the Galaxy volume 3 director Gunn recently teased Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock story in the film and said fans will “appreciate” him.
"Oh, he's the best. He's the best. He's killing it. People are going to really love Adam — or love? They're going to appreciate Adam Warlock, I'll say," he told Screen Rant.
Warlock's debut was first teased at the tail-end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, when Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha announces that the gold-skinned Sovereign people have created the perfect being.
He is encased in a gold cocoon, so we never actually get a look at Warlock in the 2017 blockbuster, but the brief scene sets him up as a major player in Gunn’s trilogy-closer.
The Suicide Squad director has confirmed on Twitter that Warlock will don a gold-encrusted cocoon like his creators in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, adding after the announcement that Poulter is “an amazing actor and a wonderful guy”.
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."
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.
Is there a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 trailer?
There's no trailer just yet, with filming gearing up to get underway later this year, but the Guardians Vol. 3 logo can be spotted in Marvel's rousing celebration of cinema montage released last year. Watch below.
What's happening with James Gunn?
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.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 is released on Friday 5th May 2023. 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.