Warning: This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War
You know who didn't fare so well against Thanos? The Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, they were their usual hilarious, brave selves, but when Gamora gets sacrificed for the Soul Stone, Quill selfishly loses control as the Infinity Gauntlet is about to be ripped from Thanos, and most of them vanish into a cloud of dust. That's a pretty solid "L" for the team.
But while we still have lots of questions about will happen to them in Avengers 4, we are also looking past the final showdown with the Mad Titan to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. What could the events of Infinity War, along with what we think might happen in Part 2, mean for their next standalone story? (And yes, we're assuming everyone who vanished will return.)
How will Quill deal with loss again?
Star-Lord united the team against Ronan by connecting through the one thing they all shared--loss. In Vol. 2 he was still processing the death of his mother, which was only made worse when he learned his father Ego had been the one to give her cancer, and then Yondu died saving him. Death follows Quill around, so will the death of the woman he loves be too much for him to handle? Can he be a capable leader if he can no longer burden his own personal loss? And since he also had the burden of trying to kill her himself, will he be unwilling to make a difficult decision in the future when one is needed?
How will Star-Lord the great hero respond to failing the universe?
Some consider Quill the film's real villain, after his inability to contain his grief over Gamora led him to lose control and start attacking the Mad Titan, which prevented them from getting the Gauntlet off his hand. And that led to half the universe being snapped out of existence. The Guardians saved the entire universe twice before, which has only fed his already large ego (like father like son), so how will he deal with the fact he failed so spectacularly? Could we see an unsure of himself Star-Lord? What would that look like? Can he be funny or heroic if he hates himself?
Will Rocket close himself off emotionally again?
Rocket finally opened up at the end of Vol. 2, when he realized his friends would love him no matter what. But after his fears of losing "a lot" personally came true, how will Rocket respond to knowing he can be hurt on such an unimaginable scale? Will he close himself off to protect himself? How big of an a-hole can he become when he's frightened of the terrible thing happening again and trying to push people away?
If Thanos dies, what purpose will Drax have?
Since Thanos invaded his planet and killed his wife and daughter, Drax has had one mission--revenge. That led him to call out Ronan on Knowhere, a stupid decision he was about to repeat with Thanos before Mantis put him to sleep. But if the Mad Titan falls in Avengers 4, what will Drax do with himself? What will guide and motivate him? What comes next for a man after he gets the one thing he cares about? (Besides working on becoming invisible we mean.)
What if Gamora comes back?
If the theory Gamora is still alive but imprisoned in the Soul Stone proves true (and it will!), what will it mean for all of them? Her death was very different, and very personal, from the rest of the Guardians who went poof. Who will she be after that experience, after her father killed her? Will it change her for the better or worse? What will she have learned about life from being dead? And how will the rest of the team treat the woman who came back from beyond the grave?
What will Rocket and Groot's relationship be like?
Rocket and Baby/Teen Groot were obviously already close, but while the entire team seemed to be raising him, Quill has assumed the father role. Rocket was more like the violent older brother. But now that we know the final "I am Groot" before our favorite tree disappeared was him calling Rocket "dad," how will that change things between them. Will Rocket feel even more responsibility? Will it make him more calm and understanding (compare how he responded to Groot playing his game compared to Quill)? Or will Rocket freak out at the idea of being a father?
If Nebula survives what will she do with herself?
Like Drax, Nebula has been driven by her desire to kill Thanos. So what happens to an emotionally damaged cyborg with poor people skills and exactly one family member she likes (who hangs out with a bunch of "idiots") when she has nothing to do? (Assuming she survives A4, which we aren't.) Will she join the Guardians full time? Go off on her own? How dangerous could an unfocused, purposeless Nebula be? And how much worse could she get if Gamora truly is dead?
Can Mantis ever adapt to normal society?
Well, "normal" for living with a talking racoon and a sentient tree. But Mantis grew up alone on Ego's planet as his slave, and shortly after that she was turned to ash by Thanos. Is it even possible for her to get more comfortable in the galaxy with the life she has led? Or is this strangely the kind of catastrophic event she needs to connect to everyone else who also went through it? And considering everyone will walk away from this fight emotionally damaged, will she be needed more than ever? Is she up to the challenge?
How will the group dynamics change?
The interaction between the team didn't change all that much from the first movie to the second. They were still learning to trust each other and work together, and they were still fighting a lot. So how will the worst experience together--even if/when they come out on top ultimately--change the way they think about one another? Will it bring them closer? Make them put up new barriers? Will it mean their normally bombastic, devil-may-care attitude will be muted? Can you guard the entire galaxy if you're afraid your friends will die again?
But, uh, what if they don't come back? Who the hell will be in Vol. 3?
Will Rocket and Rocky get along? We'd almost be willing to lose all the other Guardians permanently to get the answer to that question.
We said almost.
What do you think the future of the team looks like? Be the Guardians of our comments section below with your best theories and ideas.