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All the Ways Avengers: Endgame Sets Up Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Nebula and Star Lord

Avengers: Endgame not only concluded the Infinity Saga that comprised the first 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it also laid the groundwork for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. After the controversial firing of James Gunn in summer 2018, Disney rehired the director to close out his colorful and irreverent Marvel space trilogy. Meanwhile, Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Endgame put many of the chess pieces in place for Gunn's threequel.

Released in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy proved Gunn's magic touch by taking a group of characters even hardcore Marvel fans didn't know and crafting a crowd-pleasing blockbuster that reflected the director's idiosyncratic humor and eclectic taste in pop music. Gunn found lightning-in-a-bottle again with 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and then the team later appeared together in Avengers: Infinity War. Unfortunately, most of them were killed, and Rocket was the only Guardian to survive Thanos' snap. But thanks to Professor Hulk using the Infinity Gauntlet to bring back everyone Thanos snapped away towards the end of Avengers: Endgame, the Guardians helped end the Mad Titan once and for all.

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Related: Why James Gunn Was Rehired For Guardians of the Galaxy 3

While the conclusions of Captain America and Iron Man's stories tugged at fans' heartstrings, Avengers: Endgame also offered a hopeful tease for MCU Phase 4 by setting up the next Guardians of the Galaxy film, which will reportedly begin filming in 2020. Meanwhile, now that they're alive again five years later, Peter Quill, Drax, Mantis, and Groot have the Marvel cosmos of 2023 to explore, which could be quite different from the one they remember. Here are all the ways the course to James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was set by Avengers: Endgame:

Star-Lord Is Searching For Gamora (One of Them)

The time travel in Avengers: Endgame threw many fans for a loop, but one clear end result is that the 2014 version of Gamora is now stranded in 2023. This is the version of Gamora from a time immediately preceding the events of Guardians of the Galaxy. Like the Gamora fans met in that film, she betrayed her adoptive father Thanos and sided with the 2023 version of Nebula to prevent the Mad Titan from obtaining Iron Man's Infinity Gauntlet (with the Infinity Stones). Gamora fought alongside the Avengers in the final battle with Thanos - she specifically joined the A-Force assembly of female Avengers - but after that moment, Gamora disappeared. It's not addressed where she went or, if she escaped Earth, how she managed to do so.

Since we don't know what happened to 2014's Gamora, Avengers: Endgame set up that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will, at least partially, involve Star-Lord searching for her. Star-Lord met 2014 Gamora during the final battle (and his groin specifically met her knee). Though Peter Quill knows the Gamora he was in a relationship with died in Infinity War (and stayed dead in Avengers: Endgame), it's hard to blame him for wanting to get to know this earlier version of his love. Maybe lightning can strike twice for Quill and Gamora, but this is the MCU and things never quite turn out as expected. It will also be interesting to see Gamora potentially at odds with the Guardians since the previous version was a key member of the team.

Related: Avengers: Endgame's 22 Biggest Unanswered Questions

Nebula Joins the Guardians of the Galaxy

Nebula's character growth towards heroism was finally completed in Avengers: Endgame. In fact, Avengers: Endgame took great care to highlight how much Nebula has evolved by having her meet her 2014 version, who hadn't yet broken away from Thanos' influence and was desperate to please the Mad Titan out of fear. 2014's Nebula tortured her future self, turned over Pym Particles to Thanos so he could invade Earth in 2023, and then replaced her as part of the Avengers. The 2023 version of Nebula then killed her past version to keep her from turning the Infinity Gauntlet over to Thanos. Many fans expected Nebula to die in either Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame, and it did happen in the latter film (in a way), but the improved version of Nebula also gets to continue onward in the MCU.

Nebula officially joined the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of Avengers: Endgame and it's fitting she takes her sister Gamora's place aboard the Benatar. Nebula had refused Gamora's offer of membership in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 because she wanted to kill Thanos, but she ultimately belongs with these cosmic misfits, who are now the closest thing in the universe that she has to family. After opening Avengers: Endgame by compassionately caring for an ailing Tony Stark while they were stranded in space and then befriending Rocket and James Rhodes during the course of the film, it's finally safe and gratifying to consider Nebula a hero.

Thor Forms The Asgardians of the Galaxy

From the moment an unconscious he collided with the Benatar's windshield in Avengers: Infinity War, fans have wanted Thor to join the Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor's banter with Star-Lord's crew and his side mission with Rocket and Groot (or, as the Asgardian calls them, "Rabbit" and "Tree") to Nidavellir were among the highlights of Infinity War. Thor and the Guardians was clearly a match made in outer space. Avengers: Endgame surprised fans by reuniting Thor and the Guardians as they all left Earth together.

By the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor was back aboard the Benatar happy to reunite the "Asgardians of the Galaxy", and he immediately forced Star-Lord to question his alpha male status (prompting the other Guardians to encourage them to duel with knives). Ironically, when Thor first met the Guardians, Drax and the others mocked Peter Quill for apparently putting on weight, especially compared to Thor, the "handsome pirate angel," but in Avengers: Endgame, it's Thor who is considerably out of shape. However, no Avenger has lost as much as Thor, who had to reconcile his epic failures over the past few years. With Thanos dead and the universe restored, Thor is hoping to move on and regain the spark of being a hero that he'd lost.

Related: Everything We Know About Thor 4

Despite the promise of "Asgardians of the Galaxy", it's not definite Thor will actually be part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It's unknown whether the God of Thunder was part of Gunn's plan for the third film and his screenplay was said to always be the one that would go into production, even during the months before he was rehired by Disney. It's also not clear what Chris Hemsworth's contractual status with Marvel is since he was one of the original Avengers believed to have wrapped up his MCU commitments with Avengers: Endgame; if the Australian actor has re-upped his role as Thor, Marvel isn't saying (yet).

Still, if Thor does become part of the Guardians, it's hard to imagine Gunn would refuse the chance to work with one of Marvel's top names to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 extra special. After all, no Guardians or Thor movie has crossed the billion-dollar mark, but together, Thor could help Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 join the Avengers, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in the MCU's billion-dollar club.

Next: Every Marvel Movie Releasing After Avengers: Endgame

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