Who Will Survive Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

The new trailer and comments from James Gunn indicate that Guardians 3 will be a dark, emotional movie. Will anyone make it out alive? We have our predictions...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Photo: Marvel Studios

One thing seems certain about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: James Gunn’s final installment in a trilogy centered on Marvel’s most endearing team of would-be warriors will be the last time we see this group together onscreen. Gunn himself is finished with the Guardians’ story after this movie (he’s going across the street to help get DC’s film universe back on its feet) and has strongly hinted that a number of the main characters won’t make it out of the movie alive either.

The newly released trailer certainly has a different, more somber feel to it from the ones released for the previous installments in the trilogy, and a lot of the focus is on Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), whose origins—most likely the result of an experiment by the film’s main villain, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji)—will be explored in more detail than before.

So with both Rocket’s life and, in all probability, the fate of the universe at stake, which of the Guardians won’t stick around? Who will die an honorable, highly emotional death onscreen, and who will survive even if their contractual obligation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is complete? Let’s make some educated guesses.

Rocket Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Rocket Raccoon

We should begin by noting that all of the current Guardians are alive and relatively well in their Marvel Comics iterations (although of course some have died and come back, because “comics”). Not that this should mean that much, as the comics and the MCU have long diverged in terms of storylines and character arcs, but occasionally the comics and the movies bend slightly toward one another.

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Rocket is very different onscreen than he is in the comics, and in many ways he has been the heart of Gunn’s Guardians movies. Gunn recently promised to ComicBook.com that the “very emotional” Guardians Vol. 3 “tells this story about Rocket and where he came from and where he’s going, and how that ties into everybody else, and the end of this iteration of the Guardians.” Between Gunn’s comments and the trailer, it seems like there’s an ominous fate in store for the beloved little animal/cyborg hybrid.

But Marvel Studios also loves misdirection, and all the heavy signaling that a grim fate awaits Rocket may be just that. That’s not to say that Rocket will survive—his evolution from self-interested thief and grifter to cherished member of a loving family could end with him making the ultimate sacrifice for said clan—but we also suspect that he could overcome his dark, tormented origin with a victory over the author of his pain, the High Evolutionary, and a well-earned vacation running Knowhere.

Prediction: Lives

Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special

Peter Quill/Star-Lord

Rocket may be the beating heart of the Guardians, but Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has been the main protagonist all along. He has lost his mother, his father, a father figure/mentor, and the love of his life, but he still has a chance to gain that last one back. Can he reignite the spark, or more properly, accelerate it, with a Gamora who is still years behind him in terms of her own personal evolution?

That will likely be what drives Star-Lord in his final adventure as leader of this version of the Guardians, along of course with protecting the cosmos from the High Evolutionary, Ayesha, and (at least initially) her creation Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). We suspect that Quill will survive the events of Guardians Vol. 3, and possibly find the happiness he’s been seeking with Gamora at last, but it may come at the price of losing this version of the Guardians, the one family he has ever truly known.

Prediction: Survives

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Gama or in Avengers: Endgame


Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) has been killed off once already at the hands of her father Thanos, and while the Gamora we met in Avengers: Endgame, who Quill still pines for, is not the one who died in Avengers: Infinity War, we doubt that Gunn would be sadistic enough to kill her again.

It was revealed at Comic-Con last July that the Gamora who arrives from the past near the conclusion of Endgame has since become the leaders of the Ravagers, with no memory of her relationship with Quill. With the latter still in love with the Gamora he knew, it remains to be seen whether their romance is ultimately rekindled. The trailer does show Gamora back with the Guardians at one point, so it’s possible that she and Quill will reunite, but either way, given her history, we expect Gamora to stick around.

Prediction: Survives

Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special


Everyone’s favorite walking tree (voiced by Vin Diesel) has died twice already, giving his own life to protect the rest of the Guardians in their very first adventure together and later a victim of the Blip. Like Gamora, the Groot in the movies now is not the same one from the first film, more like his “son,” for lack of a better way to describe an intelligent plant grown from the seeds of another.

This Groot, however, has evolved from adorable little sapling to awkward, petulant teenager, to fierce warrior, his crucial moment of growth coming when he chopped off his own branch to form a handle for Thor’s Stormbreaker in Infinity War.

His shout of “We are Groot!” during an intense shootout in the trailer, a callback to his last words as he died protecting the Guardians in the first movie, might be another Marvel attempt at misdirection. We have no idea of the context for that yet, but we’re confident that this Groot will live on, either continuing as Rocket’s partner or, perhaps, sticking by Quill’s side should Rocket’s life take another path.

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Prediction: Survives

Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Drax the Destroyer

We’re pretty sure Drax (Dave Bautista) is a goner. Of all the Guardians, his arc—vengeance for his family, first against Ronan the Accuser and then against Thanos—was more or less completed with Thanos’ death in Avengers: Endgame. A more comic slant has been added to his character in the past few years, with the Holiday Special in particular playing Drax mainly for laughs.

We’re not sure how much we love Drax’s evolution onscreen, to be honest, but figuring out a way to take his character much further is above our pay grade. And while several of the actors in the Guardians ensemble are frankly out of their contracts following Vol. 3, Dave Bautista has been the only one to publicly express that he is done with the franchise. Seeing how he also appears to be wounded in the trailer, Marvel misdirection aside, we suspect that the Destroyer will face destruction himself.

Prediction: Dies

Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special


Mantis (Pom Klementieff) came into her own in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, showing herself to be a moral compass, a fighter with a surprising amount of backbone (the way she shouts at Drax when she’s mad at him is hilarious, given her otherwise mild nature), and, finally, a being of deep emotional depth, exemplified by her conflict over whether to let Quill know that she is actually his sister.

This is all a vast enhancement of a character shown in her previous appearances to be not especially bright, and relegated largely to humorous sidekick duty. That said, we’re not sure where Mantis goes from here, and even though she’s Quill’s sister, they might not have long together. Both Quill and Gamora might have to put their pasts behind them once and for all, and if Mantis’ partner Drax goes, that may mean Mantis’ journey ends here as well. It seems unlikely after revealing Quill and Mantis are siblings that Gunn won’t try to take one away from the other.

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Prediction: Dies

Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special


The cyborg second daughter of Thanos has perhaps had the starkest evolution of any of the Guardians, transforming from her father’s loyal foot soldier to an Avenger in all but name, one who is determined to stop her dad, to a full-fledged protector of the universe with her new family. She found the love she was clearly craving from her sister, Gamora, only to see Gamora ripped away, but it was her influence that changed the Gamora of the past just enough to help tip the scales of the battle for Earth in Avengers: Endgame.

Emotionally awkward and often cranky, Nebula (Karen Gillan) is still a much softer person than she was at the beginning, although she’s always up for a fight. Like Rocket and Groot, she may be ready to lay down her life to protect the Guardians and the universe, a far cry from the woman who once was willing to watch her father decimate the cosmos. We think that fate is likely, although we’d love to see Gillan’s Nebula continue to bounce around the stars and look for trouble for years to come.

Prediction: Dies

Sean Gunn in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special


Kraglin only appeared twice in the Marvel Comics universe: in 1963 and then again in 2017, a gap of some 54 years! But on both the page and in the MCU, he started out as a member of the Ravagers. He’s now a full-time member of the Guardians of the Galaxy on screen, having helped save them in Guardians Vol. 2 and showing up for the battle of Earth in Avengers: Endgame.

As played by Sean Gunn (who also does the motion capture for Rocket), Kraglin is largely defined by his loyalty, first to the late Yondu and now to Quill and the Guardians. But, and we hate to say it, he could also be the “red shirt” of the Guardians—meaning possibly the most expendable member in terms of narrative. If the Guardians are going to take some casualties in their final adventure, we imagine that Kraglin will be among the first to go (we’re sure James Gunn will find something for his brother at DC).

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