Drax Can Give His Life (To Finally Kill Thanos)
Weeks have passed since the conclusion of the Infinity Wars event, but it's still hard to accept that Drax truly is dead. When Marvel warned that a Guardian of the Galaxy would be killed in the massive, Infinity Stone fueled story, most fans probably thought that it would prove a stunt first, and story beat second (only to be undone once sales dipped yet again). It's impossible to say that Drax will or won't return at some point down the road, but the fact remains: his death was meaningful, making a sacrifice to save billions, and finally earning rest after a lifetime of anger and pain. And in the MCU, it would make just as much sense.
Even without Dave Bautista's disinterest in Guardians 3 (without James Gunn directing), the stage seems set for Thanos to be defeated. And there is nobody in the MCU who has wanted to kill him for longer than Drax. Gamora would be next in line, but her reaction to killing Thanos in Infinity War proved that's too great a burden for her to bear (Thanos is a 'father' to her, after all). And while Nebula got some revenge on Thanos in the comics, the desire to murder Thanos has defined Drax from his first scene.
If the chance arises to kill Thanos--not just as revenge for his wife and daughter, but on behalf of all life, all families, all fathers--that's an ending Drax has earned, if the film can match the comic version.
Rocket's Guilt Sends Him Soul-Searching
With Director James Gunn having confirmed that Baby Groot is the original Groot's son, and not merely a clone, the most heartbreaking moment of the MCU was set up without fans knowing it. Audiences couldn't tell in the moment, since every version of "I Am Groot" sounds the same to our ears, Groot calling out to Rocket, his "Dad" as the Thanos Snap turned him to dust is unforgivable, and must be reversed. Frankly, a whole act devoted to their reunion wouldn't be overdoing it. But once it's over... some decisions will need to be made on how many comic relief/sarcastic/quip-firing/abrasively lovable cosmic characters one Guardians franchise can hold.
As the first teases of Avengers: Endgame have shown, Rocket carries the weight of his lost friends as heavily as anyone. At least partly because of the fact that Infinity War only happened because of him, meaning he's had plenty of time drowning in guilt. Whether his departure is temporary or permanent, now seems the perfect time for Rocket to do some soul-searching, and decide what kind of hero he'll be going forward. Leaving room for other characters to carry the rage comedy before Rocket gets too played out.
Star-Lord & Groot Start The New Guardians
Maybe it's because Avengers: Infinity War turned Star-Lord into the worst Marvel hero and a punchline to his former teammates, but seeing Groot reach young adulthood and decide that Star-Lord is actually the best friend he could have seems like an overdue reassurance. We're not saying we want Star-Lord to suddenly play a father figure to Groot... but an accident prone, cool uncle would be worthwhile. More than anything though, the team of Groot and Quill means the next director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 & 4 can bring in almost any cosmic outlaw or superhero to pad out the roster.
The biggest challenge to any soft reboot or refresh is making the characters seem consistent from one incarnation to the next. In that regard, no Guardian is easier to maintain than Groot. Then, simply make sure to punctuate the trailers with Star-Lord punchlines and Groot gags, and audiences will know not everything has changed. Even if everything behind the scenes has.
Only time will tell if James Gunn planned on paying off these storylines for all the same reasons the comics have, and if Marvel decides to stick with his version of Guardians 3, or come up with their own wrap-up and refresh. But if anyone believes that dividing this group will lead to fewer story possibilities, or weaker characters, we would simply point them to the recent comic relaunch as a perfect blueprint.
Header Image modified from Chuck Zlotnick