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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: The cast, the trailers, the plot, and the movie's connections to the broader MCU

What we know about next year's cosmic finale to the Marvel Studios' movie trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Super Bowl LVII just occurred, but there's another sequel in Marvel fans' minds: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. A new trailer for the James Gunn sci-fi/comedy hit during the February 12, 2022 football extravaganza, and the drum beats are heightening for the release of the new film in May 2023.

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 stories of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Nebula, Groot, and Rocket to a close after nine years… as well as opening up space just a little bit wider for future Marvel stories to explore. But what does that actually mean in practice? Here’s everything we know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 so far.

Where are the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailers?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still

The first Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer debuted back in July 2022, but you had to be at Marvel Studios' Hall H panel during Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022 to see it. Marvel Studios and Gunn held back from releasing it to the public, saying at the time they weren't happy with the look of the special effects and that it needed more work.

But on December 1, they released it. Check it out:

And like clockwork, during Super BowL LVII Marvel revealed a second major Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer - with an infant Rocket, a nefarious High Evolutionary, and more.

Who is in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cast?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still

If you’ve ever seen a Guardians of the Galaxy movie in the past, congratulations: your favorite character is almost certainly going to be back in Vol. 3. The entire team returns for the close of the trilogy, which means that Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillen, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper are re-teaming as the eponymous Guardians, alongside Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, and Michael Rosenbaum, all of whom are reprising their roles from earlier movies in the series. They’ll be joined by Will Poulter (playing Adam Warlock), Maria Bakalova (as Cosmo the Space dog), and Peacemaker’s Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary. It’s a pretty packed cast list.

No word on whether we should expect cameos from Michael Rooker, Lee Pace, or Kurt Russell; yes, all of their characters are dead, but that’s what flashbacks are for, especially in this final chapter of the trilogy.

What is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 all about?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still

Bad news for those sensitive about cruelty to animals: as it seems Vol. 3 is at least in part about Rocket getting sick as his body begins to reject the genetic modification that made him the surly little beast that fans know and love. (You’re really not ready to watch a CGI raccoon crying. Really.) That storyline will bring in the High Evolutionary, a scientist who’s no stranger to genetically modifying animals for his own purposes… and, in fact, might have had something to do with Rocket’s origin in the first place.

There’s more going on than just that, though; Adam Warlock has been created by the Sovereign people to seek revenge on the Guardians for their actions in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which really has the potential to cause trouble for the team… and, as if that isn’t enough, Star-Lord still can’t get over losing Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War… something that is even more difficult considering that an alternate timeline Gamora is still running around as the new leader of the Ravagers. Let’s just say that there’s a lot to get through, and — given that it’s the last movie in the series — a not-zero percent chance that not everyone will make it through the movie in one piece. Or even multiple pieces.

But, really: they’d better not kill off Rocket.

Who is creating Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still

Unusually for a Marvel trilogy, the Guardians movies have been pretty consistent in terms of creative talent throughout their run: James Gunn is back as writer and director for Vol. 3, which are the same duties that he served on the first two movies as well as the Holiday Special — although, it should always be remembered, Nicole Perlman did a lot of early lifting as the initial writer of the first movie back in 2014 before Gunn stepped on board the project. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige produced all three movies, and cinematographer Henry Braham and editors Fred Raskin and Craig Wood are also returning for their third outings with the series.

There is one noticeable personnel change, though: John Murphy is handling the movie’s score, replacing Tyler Bates, who scored the first two movies in the series. (Murphy, who worked with Gunn on DC’s The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, also scored the GOTG Holiday Special.)

What do I have to watch in order to prepare for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

As the concluding film of a trilogy, it goes without saying that both 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are required viewing before settling into Vol. 3. That’s not all, though; after those two, it’s important to check out both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, in which the Guardians play a significant role — to the point where the line-up of the team changes in ways both big and small. The line-up changes, you ask? Why, yes, because Thor joins the team… which means you probably want to watch Thor: Love and Thunder (or, at least the opening of it), before finally tuning into the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special to really get in the mood. That last one, especially, is essential, as it sets up the status quo of the characters headed into the third movie. Think of it as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.5 if you’re not into seasonal cheer.

When is the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The movie is scheduled for a May 5, 2023 release. On May 17, 2023, it was announced that Guardians Vol. 3 will also get a China release on May 5, 2023.

For those of us with a long memory, you'll remember that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was originally announced to debut on May 1, 2020, but was delayed due to Walt Disney Studios firing Gunn for a period due to derogatory statements Gunn had made on Twitter years prior to his involvement with Marvel. Gunn had apologized for the comments and seemed remorseful, and Disney re-hired Gunn eight months later. In those eight months however, Gunn had signed with Warner Bros. for The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, leading to his schedule to be booked up, necessatating serious delays to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

What is on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The setlist for the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 soundtrack hasn't officially been announced, but we have at least one tip.

In the Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol. 3 trailer shown exclusively at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022, the song used is the Flaming Lips' 2022 hit 'Do You Realize??'. Gunn has said this song was chosen to mirror how the Guardians have matured from Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Who can forget when the High Evolutionary wandered into Hall H at Comic-Con International: San Diego earlier this year…?

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Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.

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