SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!
The end that we’ve long known was coming has arrived. When James Gunn first announced development of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2017, his statement revealed that the blockbuster would “conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy,” and six years later, it can be said that the writer/director delivered on his promise. The ending satisfies arcs first put in motion with the original Guardians movie, and there are expectations that we won’t be seeing a number of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe again (or, at the very least, we won’t be seeing them again any time soon).
That being said, the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 end credits scenes show us that the film isn’t the end of the line for everybody, as there are a number of characters who still have an exciting future ahead of them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, what happens in these special coda scenes, and what do they signify for the coming years in the canon? We’ve put together this feature to directly address those two questions – breaking down what happens and what it all means. Unlike Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s end credits, which has more “extra” scenes than any other MCU title, Vol. 3 has only a mid-credits and a post-credits sequence, but they both provide audiences plenty to mentally chew on while exiting the cinema.
What Happens In The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 End Credits Scenes
One of the big developments that unfolds in Vol. 3 is the revelation that Rocket Raccoon is the new leader of the titular team… but who is actually on the roster of interstellar saviors? Nebula is forming a society on Knowhere, Drax is dedicated to being a father, Star-Lord heads off to Earth, and Gamora rejoins the Ravagers, so to whom is Rocket giving orders?
That question is answered in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 mid-credits scene. Rocket is shown in the middle of a vast desert wasteland asking his new team about their favorite kinds of music. As the characters around him answer the question, we meet the new members of the Guardians of the Galaxy serving under the raccoon’s command: Kraglin, Cosmo, Warlock, Blurp, Groot (who is now bigger than ever), and Phlya-Vell – a new MCU character played by Kai Zen whom Marvel Comics fans know as a member of the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy team. As they chatter about the artists they most enjoy, we see a collection of pink skinned aliens running and crying in a state of terror.
A herd of dangerous creatures is approaching, and the Guardians wait on Rocket’s command. When he gives it, they charge toward the camera, and the action cuts.
As for the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 post-credits scene, the moment is more comedic than action packed, but arguably just as tease-y about what’s coming in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back on Earth, Peter Quill sits at a table with his grandfather enjoying breakfast. The former discusses mundanity of suburban life and helping out the neighbors, while the latter reads a newspaper with a front page headline about Kevin Bacon being abducted by aliens (a reference to the events that unfold in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+). Just as the previous movies tease the return of the Guardians, on-screen text shown over the scene says that “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return.”
What Can We Expect From The New Guardians Of The Galaxy Roster?
Nearly a decade after their entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Guardians continue to play an important role in the franchise’s big picture storytelling. We’ve seen more of the “cosmic” side of Marvel since 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel has been a key introduction, and Thor-centric stories have veered in that direction), but the team of intergalactic heroes remains key in adding scope and scale to the canon; the vast majority of heroes and villains are still primarily active on Earth, and the Guardians’ adventures remind us that there is a whole lot going on beyond what’s playing out terrestrially.
This in mind, it’s hard to believe that the film introduces us to a whole new team roster and then plans to leave what happens to them in the future up to the imagination of the audience. It may not be specifically made clear that they’ll return, unlike the Star-Lord situation (more on that in a minute), but it doesn’t logistically make sense that we’ll never hear from the Guardians ever again. Whether or not they’ll get their own movie again is an open-ended question (it certainly wouldn’t be made by James Gunn, who is now co-CEO of DC Studios), but the odds have to be low that this is the cinematic retirement.
Let’s not forget that having the Guardians of the Galaxy meet/team-up with the Avengers was a significant part of what made Avengers: Infinity War/Avengers: Endgame so exciting, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has some hotly anticipated crossovers in the works with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars on the way. Having the Guardians and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes joining forces again wouldn’t have the novelty that it had the first time, but it would still be a treat – and would certainly be different than the first time, if not simply because of the new roster.
How Will The “Legendary” Star-Lord Return?
The capacity in which the new Guardians can return is fairly obvious. What’s not obvious is how we will end up seeing to return of Star-Lord… which is ironic, given that he is the only one promised to return by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. After spending the vast majority of his life piloting spaceships and getting into all kinds of scraps with extraterrestrial beings, Peter Quill is now living a quiet life with his grandfather in Missouri, and despite the star power of Chris Pratt, one shouldn’t expect that Marvel Studios is going to make a movie about him having a chaotic time trying to get milk at the local grocery store.
While one can’t rule out Star-Lord becoming bored living a normal human life and going out to seek trouble, there are two other obvious avenues for conflict: trouble finding him, or a call to action from somebody who needs help. Peter unquestionably pissed off a whole lot of people both before and during his time as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and there might be plenty of beings in the universe who would like to get some revenge. On the other hand, the guy can be credited with saving a lot of lives, and that reputation always makes him a resource for someone in desperate need of help.
It’s difficult to specifically see how he might play into any Upcoming Marvel movies and Upcoming Marvel TV shows in Phase 5 and Phase 6 (beyond the obvious big crossover events), but the MCU does regularly find ways to surprise us – which means that it’s not wholly outside the realm of possibility that we could see Star-Lord back in action as early as later this year, in director Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters everywhere. For more about the MCU, check out our ranking of every Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and our guide on how to watch all of the Marvel movies in order.
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