Marvel Studios announced the much-anticipated return of everybody’s favorite band of space misfits, the Guardians of the Galaxy, at Saturday’s San Diego Comic-Con showcase. New footage from the film was screened for rapt fans inside the hallowed Hall H, teasing the return of some beloved familiar faces, as well as the introduction of new characters.
Actor Chukwudi Iwuji, who previously collaborated with writer-director James Gunn on the HBO Max series Peacemaker, was revealed to be playing the High Evolutionary, and a first look at Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock was also teased in the footage screened for fans. But more than anything else, it was the appearance of a young Rocket Raccoon that perhaps revealed the direction in which Gunn is going to take the film.
Now, even though both previous Guardians of the Galaxy movies have flirted with heavy themes, the official synopsis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 suggests the trilogy-capping third installment could perhaps be a more intense affair than previously imagined. Here it is:
“In Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 our beloved band of misfits are looking a bit different these days. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.”
Collider’s own Ross Bonaime reported Gunn as saying at the Comic-Con panel that Rocket has “got to be the saddest creature in the universe, and that’s what this is partly about.” Rocket’s tragic past has been hinted at before, and this’ll be the first time that the story is explored in a more meaningful manner.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy became a surprise critical and commercial hit back in 2014, having grossed over $770 million worldwide. The second film, which debuted in 2017, was an even bigger hit with over $860 million worldwide, even though critical reception wasn’t as enthusiastic. The third installment has had a famously eventful road to release. Gunn was fired from the film in 2018, after controversial old tweets of his resurfaced online. Following a major fan movement endorsed by the series’ main cast, he was rehired in 2019, but by then he’d already signed on to direct The Suicide Squad for rival DC Films. Work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 commenced after Gunn wrapped Peacemaker.
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki and Maria Bakalova, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes to theaters on May 5, 2023. But before that, you can watch the Disney+ spinoffs I Am Groot and the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, due to premiere on August 10 and in December, respectively.
Watch an interview with Gunn here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.