WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
The Guardians of the Galaxy have always been the underdogs of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Projections initially balked at the gonzo sci-fi epic, which heavily features a talking raccoon and his best friend, the walking tree. But the series has become a vital part of the MCU, showcasing the cosmic side of the universe while also playing with a looser sense of humor. It's arguably the Marvel series with the most heart, and it's proud of it. With the pending return of James Gunn to the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to bring new laughs and thrills to the Marvel Universe.
Even though it mainly focuses on a different team, Avengers: Endgame actually does a lot to set up the future film. The ending of Endgame features an entire set of new circumstances for the team, and helps set the stage for some exciting new directions for the Guardians to take. Here are the biggest ways Avengers: Endgame sets up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Asgardians Of The Galaxy
Endgame sets up the future of the MCU by introducing new directions for a number of characters. Stuff like Falcon becoming the new Captain America is fun, but it has nothing on the potential to see Thor join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy again.
Endgame ends with the revelation that Thor will be joining the team on their journey into space, setting him up as an excited new member of the group, eager to rediscover himself. The character has become increasingly goofy and cosmic as the MCU has gone on, and he'd be a great fit for the tonally similar Guardians series.
But what makes this extremely exciting is the potential character beats that could be set up by the film. We've already seen Thor partnered up with Rocket (forming a surprisingly strong and honest friendship) and Peter Quill (both of whom seem keenly aware of the friendly rivalry that's growing between them). But seeing Thor bounce off the rest of the team (and by extension the rest of the universe) seems like the perfect direction to take the now directionless thunder god.
The Search For Gamora
One member of the Guardians that is missing by the end of the film is Gamora. The original Gamora, the one who befriended the Guardians and fell in love with Peter Quill, is dead. Even the replacement Infinity Gauntlet can't bring her back. Like Black Widow, she can't be brought back after being sacrificed for access to the Soul Stone.
But there is still a version of Gamora in the universe, specifically the past incarnation of the character who traveled to the future alongside Thanos and his forces from 2014 to the present day. By turning on her foster father, she manages to survive the film.
Notably, this version of Gamora is one of the only heroes who isn't present for the funeral of Tony Stark. Because she has no memory of the other heroes, why would she care? This is a clean slate take on the character. Given the maps Peter seemed to be looking through in his final scene of the film, no one knows where she ended up.
The search for Gamora could easily be the overarching plot of the next film in the series. That would make perfect sense too, given earlier comments about the possible direction of the upcoming third volume of the series focusing heavily on Gamora.
Arguably the most unexpected and affecting aspect of Endgame is the attention the film pays to Nebula. Previously a violent cipher, she's had one of the most radical evolutions of any character in the MCU.
She's learned empathy and understanding from her time working with other heroes. She's even buried the hatchet with Gamora, with that new connection proving to be the linchpin to turning the past version of her sister against Thanos. But while Gamora may be MIA in the final moments of the film, Nebula can be seen as a clear member of the team.
So, what role will she fill in the new team? It's possible that she fills the role that Gamora once did, the straight man to the rest of the team's comedic antics. She could even develop feelings for a teammate over time, even if it's just a platonic respect, like how she formed a bond with Tony Stark and Rocket Raccoon over the course of Endgame.
What about her relationship with Gamora? While Gamora clearly cares for her, she's not the same woman who brought Nebula to the side of angels in the first place. How will that change that relationship? More importantly, what kind of effects will that newly mended relationship have on Nebula going forward?
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.