Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Shouldn’t Be the End of the Guardians

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This Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 article contains spoilers.

“The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return.” With that declaration, viewers of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 breathed a sigh of relief. We went into the final movie in James Gunn‘s Marvel trilogy, his final MCU film before co-heading DC Studios for Warner Bros, expecting a few deaths. And yet, despite some close calls, all of the Guardians survive the ordeal, even if the band breaks up in the end, with Peter returning to Earth, Gamora rejoining the Ravagers, and Drax and Nebula staying on Knowhere.

In the movie’s first post-credit scene, we get a glimpse at Guardians 2.0, led by Rocket and featuring new recruits Phyla-Vell and Adam Warlock alongside old hands Kraglin and Groot, suggesting that the MCU is not quite done with the team of galactic misfits. But as of this writing, there are no official plans to see the team continue on the big screen, with some of the actors presumably moving on. That shouldn’t stop a part 4 from happening, of course, since one thing the Guardians are very well known for in the comics is the ever-shifting lineup of characters that make up this superhero team.

Originally, when the Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in 1969’s Marvel Super-Heroes #18, they were a group of intergalactic guerillas, with members Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Martinex, and Yondu. Set in the 31st century, the Guardians fought the reptilian race of conquerors the Badoon, and eventually added to their number Starhawk, an aged Wonder Man (now using the moniker Hollywood), and more. After largely languishing in the background for decades, the team got its own solo book, which ran for 62 issues between 1990 and 1995.

Under the direction of writer Keith Giffen, Marvel relaunched its cosmic comics with the “Annihilation” event in 2008, which saw the galaxy threatened by the Fantastic Four villain Annihilus and then by the techno-organic race the Phalanx. So great was the threat that solitary actors like Star-Lord and shady figures like Gamora were forced to team up. After quelling the threat, Star-Lord proposes the idea of a permanent team. And when he discovers an aged, time-displaced Vance Astro, Star-Lord dubs the team the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Since then, the Guardians have become the (often temporary) home of some of the strangest and most underused characters in the Marvel Universe. Its membership has included Kree supersoldier Marvel Boy and his boyfriend the mighty Hercules, Captain America-inspired fighter Jack Flagg, and even the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing.

In other words, although the movie characters have more or less been consistent members of the team, the Guardians have had a rotating line-up that puts the spotlight on characters who deserve more attention.

Who Should Be in Guardians of the Galaxy 4?

As the MCU enters into its next series of phases, it faces a problem never experienced by its comic book counterparts. Where the Marvel Universe has a sliding timeline that keeps its characters perpetually in their 20s and 30s, actors age and move on in the real world, forcing Kevin Feige to find replacements for established characters.

With some of its members still in place, the Guardians have a unique opportunity to highlight new or underutilized characters while still retaining the spirit of the group audiences know and love. In fact, that would be very much in keeping with the Guardians as seen in movies, which began as a group of D-listers that even most comic readers didn’t know well, with Marvel adding to its number across three films. Baddies Yondu and Nebula became members, and the films have cameoed deeper cut figures like Howard the Duck and members of the 31st-century team such as Starhawk, Aleta Orgord, and Charlie-27, played by A-listers Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, and Ving Rhames.

Not only would those 31st-century character be a great fit for a sequel but also those who haven’t been fully utilized yet, such as Hercules (Brett Goldstein) or Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who’s set to star in The Marvels later this year. Even better, the Guardians could be the place for some of the weirder Marvel characters who have not yet made it to the MCU. If Moondragon or a proper Super-Skrull ever appears in the MCU, the Guardians would be a great home for them.

Of course, we’ve already seen Marvel experiment with putting characters from other movies into the Guardians, and admittedly to very mixed results. As fun as it was to see Thor pal around with the Guardians in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, the team seemed like a distraction in Thor: Love & Thunder. But the problem with that movie stemmed from a fundamental misunderstanding of the Guardians’ appeal.

Thor came to the Guardians because he was lost, his confidence shaken by his failure with Thanos, the destruction of Asgard, and the deaths of Loki and Heimdall. He needed a purpose, which made him a perfect candidate for the team. But instead of exploring Thor’s new status quo with other lost losers, Love & Thunder treated the team as a point of departure for the hero, something he needed to overcome to be a god again.

As the Love & Thunder blunder demonstrates, the Guardians need to be a team where outsiders embrace being outsiders. This doesn’t mean that the characters need to stay within the Guardians, as demonstrated by the bittersweet departures of Star-Lord and Drax. But they do need to feel a sense of belonging, an aspect missing from Thor’s tenure.

Whomever Marvel puts in the Guardians, whether they stick with Rocket’s crew teased at the end of Guardians Vol. 3 or a new team of misfits, they should adhere to the team’s original ethos. Whether in the comics or on the screen, the Guardians have been the place where weirdos drop by and affirm their weirdness, even if it’s just for a short time.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is streaming now on Disney+.

The post Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Shouldn’t Be the End of the Guardians appeared first on Den of Geek.

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