Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Release date, director, cast and Adam Warlock confirmed

Director James Gunn is back and Will Poulter joins the cast as Adam Warlock in 2023.

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CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
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The Guardians will be back, with director James Gunn. 

Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy director and writer James Gunn is back, and fans can expect to start hearing some actual news about the long-awaited third film. Here are some rumors and reports for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3:

Adam Warlock confirmed

Cosmic messiah Adam Warlock was hinted at in a post-credits scene shown at the end of Guardians Vol. 2. Ayesha faces a kind of cocoon containing a person, and announces, "I think I will call him ... Adam." Adam Warlock has been a Marvel character since 1967, and now Gunn has cast British actor Will Poulter to play him in GotG 3.

Evil Gamora?

One juicy tidbit that fans are mulling over: What happens with Gamora? (Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War ahead.) 

In Avengers: Infinity War, Gamora's adoptive father, Thanos, threw her off a cliff to create the sacrifice that wins him the soul gem. Her death is different, and more lasting, than those of the Guardians who are dissolved by Thamos' snap. They return in Avengers: Endgame, but Gamora's death seems more permanent. Except maybe to Star-Lord. At film's end, he's planning to search for the 2014 version of Gamora, who doesn't really know him. It's kinda confusing. 

Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora, appeared at ACE Comic-Con in Seattle in late June, and said she'd be willing to go back, even if she has to play the evil version of the character.

"The technical answer is, it all depends on what Marvel and James Gunn desire to do with the Guardians and with Gamora's fate," Saldana said, according to Heroic Hollywood. "There's a part of me that wants her to go back, find her way back to the Guardians, but there's also a part of me that wants to explore a bad Gamora. I've never seen that and she's, you know, she's considered the most lethal assassin, the most lethal woman in the galaxy, so I would want to see what that wrath looks like also because it would just give me layers to sort of work on. But yeah, I want her to get back to the Guardians."

Go Gaga for this rumor

Oh, and here's one more hot rumor: Just try to keep a Poker Face when you hear this rumor. MovieWeb.com reports that singer Lady Gaga is being considered for the role of Rocket Raccoon's girlfriend, a sentient otter named Lady Lylla. Rocket is voiced by Bradley Cooper, who had great chemistry with Lady Gaga in the 2018 hit A Star is Born, so it'd be a romantic reunion of sorts. All we have to say is, this otter happen.

Background on Gunn's firing and rehiring

 Acclaimed director and screenwriter Gunn is back on the film after being fired in 2018 after off-color tweets sparked online outrage.

"I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months," Gunn tweeted in March 2019. "I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be." 

Viewers weren't going to let Gunn go without a Guardians-quality battle. Fan petitions urged Disney to rehire him, and the movies' stars signed an open letter urging the studio to reinstate Gunn.  

His rehiring came as a surprise to some. Variety reported that due to the content of the tweets and Disney's family-friendly image, he was unlikely to be rehired, even though Gunn had already completed a script for the third film.

So what turned the tide? Deadline reports that Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn was swayed by "Gunn's public apology and his handling of the situation."

In the meantime, Marvel's age-old rival DC took the chance to sign Gunn for The Suicide Squad and its spin-off TV series Peacemaker, coming to HBO Max in January.

Release date, production info

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will be released May 5, 2023. 

Before Gunn's firing, many thought GotG3 would shoot for a 2020 theatrical release. But with Gunn's exit and return -- not to mention the Covid pandemic -- we're looking at a whole new timeline. Now Gunn is done with making both The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, shooting for GotG 3 can begin in November 2021 in Atlanta.

The first film shot primarily in London, while Guardians Vol 2. reportedly used all 18 sound stages at Pinewood Studios Atlanta. "We shot the first Guardians in England, but because Pinewood Atlanta has so much soundstage space, we were able to have the entire production base on the lot," Gunn said in the production notes for Vol. 2. "Even though a lot of the film is CGI. I like to have as many practical sets as we can and make the environments as real as possible so it balances out the CGI elements."

Cast: Who's who?

Plot news, rumors and theories

More Thor? Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, would love to see Chris Hemsworth's Thor return to the Guardians. "I think Chris Hemsworth is a great guy; he's a fun-loving Aussie," Bautista told The Hollywood Reporter. "He is what you'd expect him to be. He's very funny, pleasant and upbeat. He's very social, so I think that would be a perfect fit to be honest with you."

Possible big spoilers: A Twitter user going by Roger Wardell delivered some accurate spoilers for Avengers: Endgame before that film came out. In May 2019, he offered some hints at what will happen in Guardians Vol. 3. No one knows if they're accurate, but it's a fun account to follow. If he's right, the new film will explain some things about Rocket and Drax's pasts, among other things.

Don't bug me: Before the firing/rehiring, Gunn did tell a young fan on Twitter that sweetly naive Mantis would return for Vol. 3.

Check the calendar: Gunn did promise Vol. 3 would occur sometime after Avengers: Endgame, which makes sense, since Thanos' snap did a number on the Guardians in Avengers: Infinity War.

Sly Stallone could be back, eventually: Sylvester Stallone played Stakar in Vol. 2, and when that film came out, Gunn told the Toronto Sun that he wanted to see more of the character. But there weren't high expectations to see him in Vol. 3. "I'm not sure about him appearing in Vol. 3, we'll have to see about that, but it's our plan to see more of Stallone," said Gunn, who also cast Stallone as the voice of a lethal shark in The Suicide Squad.

Let the music play: Guardians Vol. 1 and 2 were acclaimed for their retro soundtracks, chosen by Gunn himself. Before the firing/rehiring, he was already well on the way to choosing the music for the third film -- well, kind of. A tweet he sent in 2017 said he had narrowed down the song list to 181 choices, and by October 2017, he said the soundtrack tunes were almost all chosen.  As for Gunn's final choices, he once told Cinema Blend he pulled from a master list of tunes he thought Star-Lord's late mother, Meredith, would like.

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