Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame
The Avengers have restored the MCU thanks to their Endgame victory, but to do it, they destroyed a Guardian of the Galaxy's future. Sure, Star-Lord is the reason Thanos won the Infinity War, but the life he's now doomed to live is dark--even for Marvel.
To be clear, we're not referring to the Star-Lord expected to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, or the version of Peter Quill who is still searching for a resurrected Gamora at the end of Endgame. That Peter's future gets to rely on his family, friends, and new frenemy Thor to make his life worth living. But the original version of Star-Lord from the first Guardians movie--the time the Avengers travel back to for the Power Stone--has paid a worse price than most viewers will actually realize. Forget being punished for his Infinity War meltdown... Star-Lord just had every bit of his happiness erased without fans even noticing.
Knocking Star-Lord Out Creates a New Timeline
To understand the real ramifications of messing with Star-Lord's original sequence of events in Guardians of the Galaxy, and why it differs from other time travel changes in the movie, we must point out one major detail. Casual Marvel fans may not recall the exact events of James Gunn's MCU debut, but they will still remember Star-Lord's opening musical number in the abandoned Morag temple. Only this time, Peter Quill's karaoke/dance performance of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" is interrupted when Nebula and War Machine knock him out cold mid-song. They snag the Power Stone, and head back to their future (...eventually).
Science fiction minded fans will be quick to point out that in the movie's final scenes, Captain America keeps the timelines intact by returning each of the Infinity Stones to the precise time and place from which they were removed, thus restoring a disaster-free future for each. While that plan may check out for the other Infinity Stones--inject Jane with the Aether, replace the Tesseract, replace Loki's Scepter, return the Time Stone to the Ancient One, and somehow throw back(?) the Soul Stone--the Power Stone is different.
Why? Because Captain America can't 'return' Star-Lord from unconsciousness. Star-Lord will regain his senses at some point (we hope), but he only snatches the Power Stone by a matter of seconds. Seconds that he will now sleep through, meaning...
Ronan Gets The Power Stone Instead
It may seem like a minor detail, but as Star-Lord clasped the Power Stone in his hand for the very first time, he was immediately interrupted by Korath the Pursuer and a pair of Sakaaran soldiers. Regardless of who had hired Yondu's Ravagers to acquire the mysterious 'Orb' from Morag, the fact that Korath was looking to claim it for Ronan was a point of cosmic significance. With Star-Lord now unconscious far from the Power Stone's actual resting place, it becomes Korath who discovers and removes the Power Stone... returning it to his commander Ronan the Accuser, and skipping completely over the events of the first Guardians movie.
Now is a good time to remind fans that this isn't a "what if?" or hypothetical outcome, but the exact one that Avengers: Endgame shows and says will be the restored timeline. Which means a brutal new fate for Xandar, given Ronan's mission to reduce the planet to ash and its people to dust now unimpeded by the Guardians. All things considered, that's not exactly the worst outcome. Remember, Thanos had to attack Xandar to acquire his Power Stone prior to the events of Infinity War, which Thor later confirms meant the destruction of Xandar.
So on a universal scale, Ronan getting and using the Power Stone doesn't alter the actual future of the Marvel Universe (sorry Nova Corps). What Ronan decides to do next as the universe's most powerful conqueror is anyone's guess. But one thing we do know is that Star-Lord's future becomes so tragic, it's actually more punishment for his Infinity War screw-up than fans ever really wanted.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Never Form
Just think about it: Star-Lord eventually regains consciousness, and will never know who or what was waiting to attack him (assuming the disgusting Orloni don't kill him while he's defenseless). Waking to discover that the Orb has been stolen by a rival scavenger, he either returns to Yondu and the Ravagers or awaits their own arrival shortly after he would've originally departed. With Star-Lord's heroic quest now canceled before it could even begin, his life continues... well, basically the way it would have. But things spiral out in terrible ways.
Without any reason to aid Ronan in acquiring the Power Stone, Gamora remains at her father's side, instead of traveling to Xandar to intercept Quill. In the end, she never finds love or family. Without Quill to chase, Rocket Raccoon and Groot carry on without either ever finding family worth dying for. The same is true for Drax, who will remain imprisoned in The Kyln boiling with rage over the unavenged murder of his wife and child. Oh, and Howard The Duck never becomes an Avenger, he just stays locked up in The Collector's un-shattered collection. But more importantly...
The Avengers Destroy Star-Lord's Future
No gathering of the Guardians in The Kyln means no mission, no bonding, and no forming of their own found family (one that movie fans around the world fell in love with instantly). And since it was Rocket Raccoon who found Peter's final gift from his mother, and Gamora who helped him find peace with her death by saving the galaxy, you can erase all of that as well. That adventure gave Peter the greatest insight yet into his half-human physiology, and his ability to wield an Infinity Stone put him on a collision course with his father, Ego the Living Planet.
Star-Lord's reunion didn't go as planned, but it at least gave him the truth about his birth and childhood he had always hoped to find. Not to mention paying off with the acceptance of Yondu as his true father, and the heartwarming ending to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 along with it. All of which is now erased, leaving Peter to live out his life without his family, friends, and the love of his life.
He may never know just how much he lost thanks to the Avengers messing with time and knocking him out for a laugh... but Marvel fans will.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019