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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ending explained

All the context you need to understand the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

It’s been nine years since Chris Pratt strapped on a Walkman and danced to the song 'Come and Get Your Love.' Now Marvel Studios and James Gunn have released Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, bringing the saga full circle. The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pits the Guardians of the Galaxy against a deranged scientist called the High Evolutionary.

Marvel Studios went all out for this one as we discussed in our Guardians 3 review, with plenty of drama, comedy, and shocking turning points There is a lot to unpack from this film, including some character deaths, character introductions, roster changes, and post-credits scenes. Here is everything that went down in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3!

How did Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 end?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Image credit: Marvel Studios

The final chapter of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy ends with a climactic battle between the Guardians and an evil scientist called the High Evolutionary. The team defeats the High Evolutionary, but Rocket decides to let him live, realizing that anger and vengeance isn’t the answer. In their escape from a crumbling ship, the Guardians rescue a group of genetically altered children who the High Evolutionary had been experimenting on.

And once the dust settles, the core team decide to go their separate ways.

  • Star-Lord returns to Earth where he finally reunites with his grandfather, which we found particularly touching.
  • Mantis goes off on her own, hoping to find herself after spending a lifetime answering to others.
  • Nebula decides to stay in Knowhere, helping to rebuild the society and make it the type of home she wished she had during her childhood.
  • Drax stays in Knowhere with Nebula, where he will use his fatherly instincts to help raise the refugee children.
  • Gamora returns to the Ravagers, where she has found a sense of family and belonging.

As for Rocket and Groot – well, that question is answered in the mid-credits sequence.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

What is the name of the song that the characters dance to at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

After defeating the High Evolutionary and rescuing the captive children, the characters celebrate with a massive dance sequence. Using Star-Lord’s Zune, the characters play the song 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence + The Machine. The music blasts throughout Knowhere, as the Guardians, the rescued Star Children, and various other characters dance their hearts out. For more on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack, check out this article.

How many post-credits scenes does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 have?

Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy has one mid-credits scene and one post-credits scene. The mid-credits scene features Rocket and his new team of Guardians. The post-credits scene features a moment between Peter Quill and his grandfather, plus a tease for Star-Lord’s future in the MCU.

What happened in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 mid-credits scene?

Rocket Raccoon
Image credit: Marvel Studios

The mid-credits scene reveals the new Guardians of the Galaxy roster. Let’s breakdown the new team.

  • Rocket, who has now made peace with his traumatic past.
  • Groot, who is now grown into a behemoth, resembling the King Groot variant of the character who Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby introduced back in Tales to Astonish #13.
  • Kraglin, who has now mastered Yondu’s Yaka Arrow.
  • Phyla, one of the refugee children who was genetically engineered by the High Evolutionary. She appears to be based on the character Phyla-Vell, who was a member of the Guardians during their 2008 comic book series.
  • Adam Warlock, who has become an ally of the Guardians.
  • Cosmo, a canine with psychic powers.
  • Blurp, a small F’saki who is Adam Warlock’s pet.
The team briefly discuss their favorite musical artists before rushing into battle against a monster. Long live the Guardians of the Galaxy.

What happened in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 post-credits scene?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Image credit: Marvel Studios

The post-credits scene depicts a peaceful moment on Earth with Peter and his grandfather. Pay attention to the newspaper Grandpa Quill is reading. One of the headlines mentions Kevin Bacon being abducted by aliens. If you’ve watched the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, then you will know the story behind this Easter egg.

As the scene fades out, the credits tell us that Star-Lord will return. It appears that Chris Pratt’s time in the MCU isn’t over yet. Does this mean more Guardians films, or perhaps solo adventures of Peter Quill on Earth? Maybe there’s a slot for him on the Avengers.

Does Groot talk in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

As if the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ending couldn’t get more emotional, Groot had a special message for the team as they all said goodbye. As everyone went in for a hug, Groot said “I love you guys.” Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but ever since the franchise began, the only thing Groot has been able to say is “I am Groot” or “We are Groot.” In the comics Groot was originally able to speak fluent English, but began to only say “I am Groot” after dying and regenerating in the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy comic series.

Were there any surprise cameos or new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol. 3 poster
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Don’t go into this film expecting surprise appearances from MCU heroes like Doctor Strange or Captain Marvel. However, there are a few return appearances from notable characters in the Guardians franchise. The most notable return is Yondu, as portrayed by Michael Rooker. The character died during the climax of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but his legacy can be felt in this film.

During the final battle against the High Evolutionary’s forces, Kraglin attempts to use Yondu’s Yaka Arrow to protect Knowhere. As he tries to master the weapon, he sees a vision of his former mentor Yondu, reminding him to use his heart. This is all the inspiration Kraglin needs, and he successfully uses the weapon. As of this writing, it’s unknown if Rooker filmed new scenes for his Guardians cameo, or if the scene utilized outtakes or manipulated existing footage.

As for other returning cast members, Seth Green also returns as Howard the Duck for a brief scene. Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Stakar Ogord, the legendary Ravager. The film also features the return of Gregg Henry as Jason Quill, Peter’s grandfather.

As for new faces, Nathan Fillion makes an appearance in the film as Master Karja, a security guard on Orgoscope. Jennifer Holland, actress and wife of director James Gunn, plays another Orgoscope worker. Judy Greer voices War-Pig, one of the High Evolutionary’s enforcers.

The film also features a surprise Marvel Cinematic Universe introduction. During one scene in the middle act, the High Evolutionary observes one of his genetically-altered Star Children running on what we could only describe as a space-age hamster wheel. The girl appears to be defying gravity as she runs, but we’re not sure if that’s due to her own abilities or the gravity of the exercise device.

As the High Evolutionary watches her, he comments on how she’s been able to maintain the exercise for hours without getting fatigued. This moment can briefly be seen in the first trailer for the film. Little did we realize at the time, but we were actually seeing the MCU introduction of a pretty recognizable comic book character.

After the Guardians liberate the children, the girl (who is played by Kai Zen) can be seen during the mid-credits sequence as a member of Rocket’s new Guardians team. This is where we learn that her name is Phyla. She is based on Phyla-Vell, who is a member of the Guardians in the comics.

Phyla-Vell, who is an adult in the comics, is the daughter of the Kree warrior Mar-Vell. She has cosmic powers, including flight and energy blasts. She briefly took on the mantle of Captain Marvel, but she is known more for her time as Quasar and Martyr. She was a big part of the Guardians 2008 comic series and later died and was replaced by a doppelganger from another dimension.

Who died in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Still image of High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy 3
Image credit: Marvel Studios

All of the main Guardians roster survived, but the film still had a huge body count. Ayesha, the High Priestess of the Sovereign, is killed when the High Evolutionary destroys the planet Counter-Earth. Ayesha was previously introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where she served as a secondary antagonist. Ayesha’s death is a turning point for the character Adam Warlock, who is shellshocked by the loss of his mother.

In flashbacks to Rocket's past, we see Rocket’s animal friends Lylla, Teef, and Floor killed when they attempt to escape the High Evolutionary’s lab. Their death is a turning point in Rocket’s backstory, causing the young raccoon to viciously maul the High Evolutionary in anger. As a result of his mauling, the High Evolutionary is forced to wear a face mask. Later, Lylla is seen in a vision when Rocket has a near death experience. Lylla tells Rocket that it isn’t his time to go yet, shortly before he awakes from his coma.

A bunch of unnamed henchmen are killed throughout the film as the war between the Guardians and the High Evolutionary rages on. The High Evolutionary also kills the entire population of Counter-Earth when he destroys the planet. This act of violence probably gives this film the highest MCU body count since Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s possible the High Evolutionary was killed when his ship explodes during the film’s climax. The Guardians allow the villain to live, but he isn’t seen for the remainder of the movie. He was critically injured during his battle with the Guardians, but he might have been able to make it to an escape pod.

Although the main characters all survived, there were a few fake outs. The most notable ones were Rocket and Peter. Rocket almost succumbs to his injuries after fighting Adam Warlock. The battle places Rocket in a coma for a portion of the film. Thanks to the efforts of the Guardians, Rocket was able to pull through. Peter is almost killed while escaping the High Evolutionary’s ship. Having stopped to grab his Zune, he was unable to make the jump to Knowhere. Peter floated about in the vacuum of space for a moment or two before he was rescued by Adam Warlock.

What comic creators did Marvel Studios credit in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Still promotional image featuring the Guardians in multicolored space suits in space
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Post-credits scenes are fun, but there’s another reason to stick around as the credits start rolling. Marvel Studios always has a special section in their credits where they thank the comic creators who created the stories that inspired their films. In some cases this means the creators of certain characters and concepts, or the creative teams behind a pivotal storyline that the movie may have borrowed from. Here are the creators who were thanked in the credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

  • Dan Abnett
  • Daniel Acuna
  • Wellinton Alves
  • Paul Azaceta
  • Jerry Bingham
  • John Buscema
  • Donny Cates
  • Chris Claremont
  • Gene Colan
  • Peter David
  • Marko Djurdjevic
  • Arnold Drake
  • Steve Englehart
  • Miike Friedrich
  • Steve Gan
  • Keith Giffen
  • Timothy Green III
  • Mark Gruenwald
  • Don Heck
  • Gil Kane
  • Jack Kirby
  • Andy Lanning
  • Salvador Larroca
  • Stan Lee
  • Larry Lieber
  • Steve Lightle
  • Bill Mantlo
  • Mike Mignola
  • Paul Pelletier
  • Rick Remender
  • Cory Smith
  • Jim Starlin
  • Roger Stern
  • Roy Thomas
  • Jim Valentino

Where does this leave the team as far as a sequel someday?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

The film ends with Rocket forming a new team of Guardians, because the galaxy will always need heroes. As previously mentioned, we get a look at this group during the mid-credits scene, and it appears they’re keeping true to the mission statement in their name. Rocket’s new Guardians protect a group of frightened aliens from a monster, proving that the story never truly ends.

When it comes to future Guardians projects, the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s movies or Disney+, this film sets up plenty of stories that could be told with these characters. It could be fun to follow Rocket as he tries to lead his new team. We saw Rocket take more of a leadership role during Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which gave us a hint on how he might handle his new Guardians.

There’s also the possibility of following the members who left the group. As of now, both Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista have said that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would be their last outings as Gamora and Drax. However, there is still the possibility of a project starring Nebula as she rebuilds Knowhere, or Mantis during her journey of self-discovery.

Will there be a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Image credit: Marvel Studios

As of this writing there are no plans in Marvel’s film slate for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4. However, it’s possible that Marvel Studios has plans down the line that haven’t been announced yet. If there is another Guardians film, it will be made without the involvement of writer and director James Gunn. Last year Gunn accepted a position as co-CEO of DC Studios, which makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 his final Marvel project.

GOTG Vol. 3 has been marketed as a finale and a farewell to the current team. As previously mentioned, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista have publicly stated that this film is their farewell to the franchise. However, there is nothing to stop Marvel from doing a Guardians sequel focusing on Rocket’s new team. If they do, it’s possible they won’t call it Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4, opting to do a soft reboot with a new title.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ends with the credits telling us Star-Lord will return. We don’t know if his return will happen in a solo Disney+ project, an Avengers film, or a Guardians sequel. However, if a Guardians sequel is announced, then you’ll be able to read about it right here on Popverse. Keep your eyes peeled to Popverse for future Guardians news as we continue to cover the MCU’s cosmic saga.

The final installment in James Gunn’s trilogy (well, trilogy-and-a-bit, with the addition of the Holiday Special on Disney+), Vol. 3 promises to bring the long-running story of the team to a satisfying end after nine years, as well as opening up space just a little bit wider for future Marvel stories to explore. It's a film that Popverse's own Tiffany Babb enjoyed a lot, calling it "the best superhero movie of the past six years" - which is high praise indeed.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in most theaters May 5, 2023. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Get ready for the new film with our comprehensive Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 guide.