Marvel has mostly stayed tight-lipped about its plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers 4, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is one of the few films that it has confirmed is on the way.

Of course, now that the team has crossed paths with Thor and the other Avengers in Infinity War, things could look very different for the Guardians going forward. Here's what we think you should expect from the film whenever it arrives.

Release date

While Marvel has confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is on the way, it hasn't yet announced a specific release date for the film. However, we do know that the company is aiming for a 2020 release, and that it's booked out three 2020 release dates for Marvel movies, so it's a safe bet that Guardians 3 will arrive on one of the following three dates:

  • 1 May 2020
  • 31 July 2020
  • 6 November 2020

Cast and crew

No cast members have been officially confirmed for the film yet, but it's a safe bet that most of the cast of the first two movies will be returning - including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel.

Now, anyone who's seen Infinity War will know that not every Guardian makes it through unscathed - without being too specific. Still, there's enough speculation about how various characters will be brought back in the second part of the Thanos story that right now we're not ruling any Guardians cast members out of return appearances.

Things behind the camera are a bit less certain. In a shock turn of events, in July 2018 Disney fired series writer and director James Gunn from Guardians 3 after offensive tweets of his from a decade prior resurfaced, as part of a targeted campaign by alt-right groups.

Disney was quick to condemn the tweets, and Gunn, despite the fact that the writer/director had already apologised for the old jokes, which referred to rape and paedophilia. The company hasn't announced if it still plans to use Gunn's script, which was apparently written already:

Not all fans are happy about the decision though, and there's a campaign to persuade Marvel to re-hire Gunn, arguing that he's a changed man, no longer trading on the sort of offensive and provocative humour behind the original tweets. At the time of writing over 350,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to have Gunn reinstated, while the core Guardians cast members have signed a joint statement defending Gunn and urging Disney to re-hire him: 

In the wake of the open letter things got even more heated. In the face of a wall of silence from Disney, Bautista took to Twitter to declare that it would be "pretty nauseating" working for Disney in the wake of the incident. He took an even stronger tone in an interview with ShortList, claiming that he's even willing to walk away from the film if it doesn't at least use Gunn's script - which has already been turned in.

“Where I’m at right now is that if [Marvel] don’t use that script, then I’m going to ask them to release me from my contract, cut me out or recast me," Bautista said. “I’d be doing James a disservice if I didn’t.”

Marvel using Gunn's script isn't out of the question - a Hollywood Reporter investigation claims that "Disney plans on using Gunn's script," and reports via sources that "there is a hope through the talks that Gunn could return in some fashion, even if it’s to develop and direct another Marvel movie." His exit negotiations with Disney are reportedly complicated and ongoing, so nothing is totally out of the question yet.

Even Marvel itself is apparently lobbying higher-ups at Disney to re-hire Gunn, according to a report from Deadline. The report claims that senior Marvel figures - most likely including uber-producer Kevin Feige - are trying to persuade Disney of the business case for keeping Gunn on, as they hope to avoid last minute script re-writes, cast conflicts, and more that could jeopardise the profitability of the next Guardians film.

Plot rumours

We know very little about what to expect from Guardians 3 right now, but here's what we have so far - bearing in mind that we'll have to discuss Avengers: Infinity War spoilers.

If you've seen the last Avengers movie you'll know that not all of the Guardians survived the Thanos snap at the end of the movie. In fact, only one of them did, Rocket Raccoon, who wouldn't make up much of a team on his own. So it's a safe bet that the other Guardians will be resurrected somehow - with the possible exception of Gamora, who was murdered by Thanos long before the snap (though some fan theories suggest she may live on in the Soul Stone, so even she might return).

Without knowing any more about Avengers 4, it's hard to know which Guardians will feature in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, or what they'll be up to now that Thanos is (presumably) defeated.

From previous Marvel comments we know that Guardians 3 will serve as a sort of bridge between all of the MCU movies that have happened so far and what is to come next, closing up some story threads for the current Guardians team and likely setting up a new group going forward.

One of the new characters likely to play a major part is Adam Warlock, who was teased at the end of the previous Guardians movie as the 'next evolution' of the Sovereign race. For those who don't know their comics, Warlock is a super-powered space Messiah figure who has at times controlled the Infinity Gauntlet, and has a dark side known as the Magus.

It seems pretty plausible that the third Guardians film will introduce him as a villainous figure fighting for the Sovereign one way or another, before bringing him round and setting him up as a Guardian going forward, as he has been in the comics - but we'll have to wait and see for now.