Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 is guaranteed to be a success, and will likely top the $773,000 box office haul that its surprise hit predecessor earned back in 2014. Now a known brand with a dedicated (and sizable) fanbase, the new Guardians film could very easily top a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, so it's no surprise that a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie has already been announced. But what do we know about Guardians of the Galaxy 3?
A surprising amount, actually. First off, writer/director James Gunn — the main creative voice behind the first two Guardians films — recently announced that he will indeed return to write and direct the third film in the trilogy. Not only that, but he also declared that the series is indeed limited to a trilogy. In other words, Guardians 3 will be the last Guardians movie. Now that could possibly change down the road, since Marvel owns the Guardians and can do whatever they want with them, but at least when it comes to Gunn's interpretation of them, it looks like that will be limited to three films. In his statement, he even added the disclosure that the third film would be the end of "this iteration" of the team. Here's what he told Variety at the Volume 2 premiere:
“I think that the third movie is going to continue this trilogy, the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s going to do it in a big way, and we’re going to come to an epic conclusion of who the Guardians are and why they were brought together, and I can’t wait to tell that story to the people ... It will be the final, in this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy."
While it hasn't been revealed exactly when the third Guardians film will arrive, it's definitely going to be a big deal when it does. The movie won't arrive until after Infinity War is over, so it will likely take place in a very different-looking Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2020 is probably the earliest date at which the film could premiere, which would put it squarely in Phase 4 of the MCU — and it may even lead off said phase. The reason why I think that's likely is because Marvel has said that the film sets up the entire next decade of Marvel movies to follow, which makes it sound like a huge deal. Since the Guardians up to this point have been largely separate from the MCU, you're probably wondering what could possibly be so important in Guardians 3 that it sets up ten years of films. Well, I've got two words for you: Adam Warlock.
Warlock has been a fan favorite character in the comics since the '70s when he had a successful solo series run, and he has remained an important part of Marvel's cosmic universe ever since. An immensely powerful being, Warlock played an important role in the "Infinity Guantlet" and "Infinity War" storylines in the comics, but he will be absent from those storylines in the movies. However, he could still play a key role in shaping the future of the MCU, especially if his evil double — The Magus — is introduced and emerges as the new big bad in Phase 4. Here's what Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told io9's Germain Lussier about Warlock's upcoming introduction in Guardians 3.
"[Adam Warlock’s arrival] will not be until 'Guardians 3.' Adam is not a part of 'Infinity War,' which of course he is in the comics, but James [Gunn] did always really like Adam Warlock, and our version of 'Infinity War' is the culmination of all the stories we told up to this point. James has had ideas to introduce Adam — certainly there were ideas in 'Vol. 2,' maybe even in part one, but part two for sure — which were great, but the way the story was coming together, there just wasn’t time for that."
By the sound of it, there were initially thoughts to include Warlock in Infinity War, but there just wasn't room for him. This is probably a good thing, since he's a major character and deserves a lot of room to develop. And with his upcoming introduction in Guardians 3, I expect Marvel to use him to his fullest extent.
So to sum up, James Gunn will return to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3, which will conclude the trilogy for this iteration of the Guardians, and will shape the next ten years of Marvel movies — probably thanks to its inclusion of Adam Warlock. Where can I get my ticket?