When audiences see the Guardians of the Galaxy cross paths with The Avengers in Infinity War, they'll have changed a little bit in comparison to their two standalone adventures. In only a couple of weeks, fans will get to see Star-Lord and friends save the galaxy once more in Vol. 2, but there's arguably more excitement over the team joining the massive fight against Thanos in the third Avengers film, which combines just about every living MCU hero to date. It'll be highly interesting to see the dynamic of the massive ensemble unfold, since it will be quite an eclectic group of characters joining forces for the blockbuster.
Whereas Guardians 2 picks up just a few months after its predecessor (maximizing Baby Groot), four years in the MCU will have passed between it and Infinity War. That's a considerable amount of time, so it stands reason to believe the criminals-turned-heroes won't be exactly the same when they meet Iron Man and Captain America. As it turns out, that's exactly what the creative team has in store.
Speaking with CinemaBlend, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige teased the Guardians will have "evolved slightly" following their latest big screen adventure:
"Yeah. They will have evolved slightly, in some recognizable ways. But really they'll be the Guardians and dealing with the s**t storm they have to deal with."
It's been said before the Guardians are going to be responsible for levity and humor in Infinity War, so whatever evolution the misfits undergo, it won't be considerably drastic. Still, it's encouraging they won't just be the same from their previous two outings. One of the common criticisms of Vol. 2 in the early reviews is that the sequel feels rather familiar despite offering loads of fun, so the best way to keep the forward momentum is to mix the formula up a bit and place the characters in new situations. Obviously, a lot will have happened to the Guardians off-screen over the course of four years, making it fascinating to see what the Russo brothers have in store. James Gunn is already confirmed to make Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which takes place after Infinity War, so whatever changes are implemented will likely carry over into Phase 4.
While this is an exciting proposition, some viewers may feel a little cheated by it. Part of the enjoyment of following a movie series is going along on the journey with the protagonists, watching them grow throughout multiple films. From Feige's comments, it sounds like fans will miss out on seeing a key part of the Guardians' development, which is unfortunate. Characters like Iron Man and Captain America have resonated thoroughly because audiences have been with them every step of the way. Granted, there have been storytelling gaps of multiple years in franchises before (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back), so it is possible to pull this off in a compelling manner. Hopefully, that's the case here and the "new" Guardians are just as great as the old ones.