Here Are the New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ After Volume 3

After Rocket’s backstory is told, a new leader emerges

Sean Gunn as Kraglin in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Warning: This post contains spoilers from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

The emotional conclusion to James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived, and it fills in the gaps of Rocket Raccon’s (Bradley Cooper) backstory. The villainous High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) looms in the background after echoes from Rocket’s past surface. Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), a Sovereign-created specimen, is tasked with hunting down Rocket and returning him to The High Evolutionary.

Rocket’s friends prove just how much they love him with the lengths to which they go to protect him from this fate. Transitioning from Volume 2, which came out in 2017, as well as after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), the Guardians roster heading into this film includes Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), a multiversal version of Gamora who didn’t fall in love with Quill (Zoe Saldaña), Groot in his young adult stage (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Cosmo the Spacedog (Maria Bakalova) was introduced in the Christmas special, and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) takes on the mantle of Michael Rooker’s Yondu and his fin and arrow-wielding abilities.

Following the events of “Volume 3,” a new team of Guardians emerges. Rocket becomes their new leader, nominated by Star-Lord himself. Groot remains by his trusted friend’s side. Telekinetic Cosmo sticks around as a loyal companion, and Kraglin becomes a staple of the group as well. After shifting his destructive mentality away from the influence of his dead mother Ayesha, High Priestess of the Sovereign (Elizabeth Debicki), Adam Warlock gets granted a second chance from Groot to do good in the galaxy. Warlock takes in Blurp, who starts out the film as a Ravager pet. Blurp is a furry F’saki, who has many scene-stealing moments in the film. Blurp’s nonfurry counterpart was shown in the first film at the Orloni table eating the smaller fleshy kangaroo-rat hybrid creatures.

Last but not least on the list is Phyla (Kai Zen) who gets introduced in the third film. Phyla is one of the children in the High Evolutionary’s lab, and in the comics, she appears in the “Captain Marvel” storyline, so she could have a connection to the upcoming “The Marvels” film. 

Nebula decides to stay behind on Nowhere and lead the civilization and society growing there. She taps Drax to stay and help, especially after all the children and animals from the High Evolutionary’s experiments find refuge there and Drax has a knack for amusing the children. “You weren’t born to be a destroyer, you were born to be a father,” Nebula says at the film’s emotional end.

Mantis wants to go off and find herself. She needs to figure out what she wants after living most of her life in service to what her father Ego (Kurt Russell) wanted. She goes off with her newly befriended Abilisks to have her own adventures. Zoe Saldaña had previously hinted that it is the end for Gamora, who returns to the Ravagers at the end of the film. Peter Quill goes to Earth to reunite with his grandfather, who he hasn’t seen since the Ravagers first kidnapped him the night his mother died.

The end credits reveal that Star-Lord will return, and the descriptor may hint at what capacity.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is now in theaters.