Which Marvel Comics characters will replace Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his allies in Guardians of the Galaxy 4? James Gunn, who directed the first two movies and is set to direct the third installment in the trilogy, recently reaffirmed that a fourth Guardians of the Galaxy would likely center around a new team.
Gunn has said in the past that his plan was for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. to serve as an ending to the story of Star-Lord’s team, so it’s not all that surprising that Marvel will move on to a new group of heroes after the third movie. Marvel has already devoted two full movies to Star-Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel). Plus, they all appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, with some receiving a significant amount of screen time. There are a few loose ends that still need to be tied up, but after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Marvel should be ready to introduce a new team of cosmic superheroes.
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If Marvel did decide to make Guardians of the Galaxy 4, which heroes would be on the team? Major players in the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, such as Silver Surfer and Nova, could be held in reserve for other projects, so Marvel may lean on some of its obscure characters instead, which wouldn’t be unlike what it did with the first Guardians of the Galaxy lineup. Star-Lord, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon were far from well-known names prior to the movie’s release. A fourth installment, supported by a new team, could launch a handful of Marvel Comics superheroes into the public eye. Here are some of the characters Marvel may pick for its next team of Guardians.
Long before Marvel reinvented the Guardians with Star-Lord and the others, the Guardians were a team of superheroes from the distant future. Among them was Vance Astro, an astronaut who was put into suspended animation and sent into space to decide if a certain planet was suitable for humans. By the time he arrived, a thousand years had passed, and the planet was already colonized. Vance, feeling that the sacrifice he made for the sake of humanity was a waste, was upset to discover that the Earth itself was conquered by an alien race called the Badoon long ago. Afterward, Vance discovered latent mutant abilities, formed the Guardians, waged war on the Badoon, and was promoted to team leader. During the 1990s Guardians series, Vance was the main character.
Unfortunately, Marvel has already used most of the original Guardians, via Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, Vance Astro was avoided – perhaps intentionally – and Vance won’t be in Guardians 3 either. If adapted to the MCU, Vance is likely to be without his team from the comics, but Marvel can always create new relationships for him to develop. Vance could fill the role of the movie’s relatable human protagonist. Vance, a man who had his room on their ship decorated like his childhood bedroom, would share Star-Lord’s attachment to his past, but would differ from him in several ways. Star-Lord is a rogue with questionable moral values, while Vance has an unwavering moral code and a desire to emulate his childhood hero, Captain America (whose shield he now carries).
Being a character from the future would be a problem for his inclusion in Guardians of the Galaxy 4 if Marvel wants to keep the story in the present, but the movie could always send him on a time-traveling adventure, something that has often happened to the comic book version of the character. In the 2000s, Vance joined Star-Lord’s team after being stranded in the present. Something similar could befall the MCU’s Vance Astro.
Adam Warlock was one of Marvel’s most important characters in the 1990s, due largely to the role he played in crossover events. It wasn’t Captain America or Iron Man who led the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Avengers into battle with Thanos in Infinity War – it was Adam Warlock. This genetically engineered cosmic being was at the center of some of Marvel’s biggest cosmic stories and was also the archenemy of Thanos. With Thanos (Josh Brolin) dead in the MCU, it’s too late for Warlock’s biggest arcs from the comics to be adapted to the big screen, but the character himself would still work well in a Marvel movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 already set up the character, but Gunn has made it clear that Warlock is not a lock for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If he isn’t the movie, he could be saved for the fourth film. But what would that mean for the task that the second film gave him? He was created to go after the Guardians, but this mission could be changed or abandoned. A Marvel movie with Adam Warlock could capture the feel of Warlock’s solo comics, which depicted him as a man searching for knowledge and meaning. Since he was born as a man and not as a child, Warlock had no time to grow up and had to learn about emotions, people, and how the world worked all at once. Guardians of the Galaxy 4 could explore this aspect of the character.
Beta Ray Bill
The beginning of a new Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy should focus on new characters, but it could make use of one or two familiar faces. Beta Ray Bill, an alien warrior worthy of wielding Thor’s power, is heavily rumored for Thor: Love and Thunder. A possible successor for Thor, Beta Ray Bill could get his hands on Stormbreaker by the end of the movie, but what Marvel would do with him after that isn’t clear. Considering that Love and Thunder is likely the end of the Thor franchise, Beta Ray Bill would have an uncertain future in the MCU. A good place to use him again would be Guardians of the Galaxy 4. Beta Ray Bill, who has been a Guardian in the comics, would add more raw power to the team and provide an interesting connection to the MCU and its past.
In Marvel Comics, Moondragon is the human daughter of the man who was transformed into Drax the Destroyer. As a child, she was taken from Earth by Thanos’ father and brought to Titan, where she developed powerful telepathic abilities and learned martial arts. She also formed a psychic connection to a mystical, alien force known as the Dragon of the Moon which tried for years to corrupt her mind. Later, she joined the Avengers but was kicked out for using her abilities to influence her teammates. Though deemed untrustworthy by the Avengers, she went on to become a member of Adam Warlock’s Infinity Watch and several different versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
A comic book accurate backstory for the MCU’s Moondragon could be problematic, since Drax doesn’t have his human origin story, but Marvel could fix this by removing Drax from the equation. Moondragon’s arrogant behavior and shady use of her abilities would make her a unique addition to the team, as she’d be someone who might have a difficult time earning the trust of her allies.
Guardians of the Galaxy leaned heavily on the Kree, but a fourth movie could shift the focus to a new alien race: the Shi’ar. The Shi’ar Empire, who originated in X-Men comics, was presumably off-limits in the past, but the Fox-Disney deal has made them a real possibility. The wide reach of the Shi’ar Empire makes them a force to be reckoned with in Marvel Comics. One of their greatest weapons is a warrior called Gladiator, who is a member of the Empire’s galactic defense force, the Imperial Guard. The proud Gladiator’s unflinching loyalty to the Shi’ar Empire has made him a villain on numerous occasions, but there are times when he’s on the side of the heroes. In the comics, he was a member of Starfox’s Guardians team. Powerful enough to harmlessly bounce Mjolnir off his chest, Gladiator can hold his own against Marvel’s strongest characters and could act as the muscle of the MCU team in Guardians of the Galaxy 4. Also, his principles and his loyalty to the Empire could create a great deal of conflict between him and his fellow Guardians. Gladiator being a character who could turn on his allies given the right circumstances would certainly bring some tension to the team.
Key Release Dates
- Black Widow (2020)Release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Feb 11, 2022
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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