So, here you go. Before we get going, know this: SPOILERS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THIS DISCUSSION!!! If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you are going to want to hold off reading this article. You have been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
Wear THIS and decide our collective fate in Vol. 3!
Was that a sequel or what? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 exceeded the expectations of many while delivering a solid, self-contained story (“contained” in that it didn’t involved any Infinity Stones). There were laughs, tears, intense action and a plethora of easter eggs. It’s going to take a few days to sit back and process what we actually saw.

But who cares about processing; it’s now time to start speculating. While GOTG Vol. 2 did a tremendous job at continuing the adventures from the first outing, it did an even better job of setting up the future of Star-Lord and the rest of the intergalactic outlaws! Director James Gunn already confirmed his directorial-ship for Vol. 3  and it makes sense, since he has already planted some potentially amazing seeds that could blossom into gigantic Ego blobs in the future.

While I know The Guardians of the Galaxy will join the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in next year’s Infinity War and the pending, untitled Avengers 4, I don’t care about team-up movies. We need to look past the Thanos threat and instead gaze into the unknown horizon that is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. So, with that outlier factored in, here are 5 predictions (some bold and some not so bold) of what we could expect for GOTG Vol. 3.

1. Adam Warlock Will Form Infinity Watch

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
Who’s that hiding in that cocoon?
Let’s begin with the most obvious observation: Adam Warlock will be part of The Guardians’ immediate future. In the middle of a pile of post-credits scenes, we head back to The Sovereign, where a defeated Ayesha is already developing their latest weapon, a genetically perfect specimen she dubbed “Adam.” It was a moment that many MCU fans have been dreaming about for years, confirmation that Adam Warlock will be coming.

Most assumed that meant Warlock would show up in next year’s Infinity War, since he was the prominent factor in the comic book version of the storyline. However, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has gone on record stating that Warlock will not be part of the Avengers saga, so unless he’s trying to pull the wool over our eyes, Warlock will be reserved for a future Guardians movie.

Sure, he could be a villain with a tweaked comic book history and presented as a potential threat. Or, he could be his righteous, familiar self and create The Infinity Watch. Following the events of Infinity War, someone is going to need to protect the Infinity Stones after they’re taken from Thanos. That job will fall to Warlock, who could recruit Drax, Mantis — maybe Moondragon and even Pip — to protect the stones.

That speculation would confirm two things:

First, James Gunn has gone on record saying that after a third Guardians movie, the current Guardians lineup will change. The team might continue, but it’s not going to include this specific cast of characters. So, removing characters like Drax and Mantis will allow you to keep them in the MCU as members of an Infinity Watch movie series. That would confirm the second point, which was Feige claiming that Gunn will shape the future of the MCU.

If Gunn does end up with two groups at the end of Vol. 3 (Guardians & Watch), then he can put the first building blocks down for a potential Phase 4 of the MCU and leave two new franchises for future filmmakers to put their stamp on.

2. Ayesha Still Won’t Be a Major Villain (But She Should Be)

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
It’s good to be golden!
One of the best parts of GOTG Vol. 2 was the presence of The Sovereign. From the film’s opening moments and until the final battle, Ayesha and her band of perfect people were always dropping in for crucial moments. Perhaps the most important bit involving Ayesha and The Soveriegn was their big post-credits sequence with Warlock (remember that whole first point I made??). It’s clear that Ayesha’s time in this Universe isn’t over, but don’t expect her role to be expanded.

Adam Warlock will probably be the prominent figure in a Guardians sequel. He’s got a long history in the MCU and would overshadow any other character potentially introduced (not including 20th Century Fox-owned characters like Galactus). To bring in a hero like that means you’re going to need a villain to match that prominence.

If we know Ayesha creates Adam Warlock, perhaps she’s also responsible for the creation of his evil alter ego, Magus. While Ayesha and her golden army would be a fun, evil force, it should be expected that Magus or some other unknown threat will take center stage for delivering dastardly deeds.

3. Old Guardians vs New Guardians

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
I’ll beat you down worse than Clubber Lang!!!
Call it wishful thinking at this point, but I don’t think there’s a chance Sylvester Stallone is done with The Marvel Cinematic Universe. His role in the sequel was extremely limited, similar to the usage rate for Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, and John C. Reilly in the first outing. There is one major different with Sly, though: we were introduced to his old compatriots in yet another post-credits scene.

Stallone’s Stakar was joined by Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving “Freakin” Rhames), Mainframe (wait… that was Miley Cyrus!?!) and a completely digital Krugarr. You don’t bring in a coalition like that for a simple gag. Clearly, the O.G. member of The Guardians of the Galaxy are on a collision course with their younger counterparts.

After all the fallout that’s sure to come from Infinity War, The Guardians are probably going to return back to their side of the Universe as conquering heroes. Perhaps getting involved with Earth business doesn’t sit well with Stakar and the rest of his Ravager friends. The entire story could be old generation vs new generation, with the teams being forced to join together when a new threat arrives (cough*Magus*cough). Someone like Stallone never seems to remain a bad guy for long, so if he does start out as a Guardians’ antagonist, fully expect a redemption story by the movie’s end.

4. Thanos Will Be a Factor

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
You seriously don’t believe the Avengers are a threat to me?
It’s not time for a solid hot take. Marvel has spent years developing the Thanos character and I don’t think he’s going away anytime soon. He will probably be showing up in Infinity War, and then wrapping up his saga in that still untitled fourth Avengers movie. Just remember, Thanos survived the events of the Infinity Gauntlet comic story (even after everything he did) and went into seclusion. I would roll the dice and say his Avengers encounter would resolve similarly.

Why? Because it opens the door for Thanos to have a proper ending. To have the Mad Titan be written off by The Avengers belittles the need for a more deserving ending. If Thanos is going to die in the MCU, it shouldn’t by the hand of Iron Man, Captain America, or even Drax The Destroyer. It needs to be Nebula.

There are rumblings she’s set to appear in one of the Avengers movies, but she would still be thrust into the background with all the other heroes involved. Instead, save the Nebula and Thanos encounter for a third Guardians movie. There, in the hands of James Gunn, we can have his demise orchestrated the proper way, allowing Nebula to get the revenge she seeks. I don’t think Thanos will be a major villain, but he needs to show up, if only to have the purple kicked out of him by his adopted daughter.

5. More Howard the Duck Cameos

What Could the Future of The Guardians Franchise Hold? [5 Potential Plot Points for Vol. 3]
You’re out of luck until you’ve had duck!!!
I mean… it’s the easiest prediction to make. He’s already popped up twice and a “thrice appearance” is necessary. You never know where this Duck could show up.

So, what do you think? What storylines or characters do you want to see carry over to a third movie? Let us know in the comment section below!

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