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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: What to make of that end caption

The history and potential meaning behind what Marvel is trying to say with those four words

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

Spoilers ahead for the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Do not read on unless you’re fine with knowing what happens at the end of the movie. We’re very serious about this; keep going and you might learn something you don’t want to. No, really. Turn back now; it’s your last chance.

If Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 marks the end of this chapter of the cosmic Marvel series, it ends with what appears to be not one, but two promises that it’s not the end of the story. Not only is there a new line-up for the Guardians as a team by the time audiences will be leaving the theater, but there’s a surprising caption for one of the movie’s leads — if anything, even more surprising because it’s one of the characters whose narrative arc seems the closest to complete.

Despite that, though, it’s right there on the screen: “Star-Lord will return.” But… what? Where?

”…will return”

The caption that “Star-Lord will return” that appears at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 isn’t the first time that MCU fans have seen such a thing; the very end of Thor: Love and Thunder brings up a caption reading, “Thor will return.” In that case, it was seen as implied confirmation that Marvel was planning a fifth Thor movie, although that seemingly came as a surprise to both Chris Hemsworth, who plays the character, and writer/director Taika Waititi, who’s been the man behind the last two Thor movies.

The caption isn’t unique to Marvel; in fact, its use is likely an intentional callback to the James Bond franchise, which has used the end card “James Bond will return” in every movie since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever — in each and every case, a confirmation to fans of the character’s longevity, even on the occasions when no concrete plans have been put in place for a future installment.

Could it be that Marvel is being similarly confident with its use of the caption — and that there’s no actual intent to the declaration of returning, outside of Marvel simply announcing that it could bring the characters back should it want to?

Where will Star-Lord show up next?

With no future Guardians of the Galaxy movie announced — although there might be one in the works for some undisclosed point in the future — and, similarly, no solo Star-Lord movie announced for Phase 6, although that’s not entirely outside the realms of possibility — the most likely appearance for Peter Quill would be in 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, the first of two final chapters of the current Kang storyline in the MCU… and a movie anticipated to feature all manner of guest stars alongside whatever line-up of Avengers exists at that time.

(This is likely also where we’ll see Thor next, following up on the Love and Thunder caption, short of a surprise announcement of a future movie.)

That said, the last time we see Star-Lord is on Earth, which makes him available to cameo in any Marvel movie set for release any time in the next few years, as long as it takes place on Earth. Hrm… maybe that means he might show up in The Marvels, given that he already knows a thing or two about intergalactic politics and cosmic threats… and actually knows Carol Danvers personally.

We’ll know about that last guess in November, when The Marvels is released. (You can check out our calendar of upcoming superhero movie releases right here.) In the meantime, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is playing at a theater near you, and is ripe for a rewatch; get your tickets at Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Can’t make up your mind about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Read the Popverse review and see if it helps.

Graeme McMillan

Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor 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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