Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was James Gunn’s MCU swan song, but just because he’s moved to Metropolis doesn’t mean Marvel Studios is closing up shop. The third and final film in Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy still featured two post-credits scenes teasing what lies ahead for the group’s members in the franchise. The ramifications and significance of the first were obvious, but the second’s importance wasn’t as clear. At least not initially. What happened and what did it reveal? Here’s what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s second post-credits scene was all about.
What Happened to Peter Quill at the End of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Star-Lord decided Mantis’ advice (delivered via Drax) was right. Peter needed “to learn to swim.” He couldn’t keep running/hopping from his own issues; he needed to face them.
To do that, Star-Lord needed to go back to the place where his mother died, the place he’d left his grieving grandpa behind in 1988 when Yondu kidnapped him as an eight-year-old. Peter Quill ended Vol. 3 by leaving the Guardians of the Galaxy behind and finally returning home to Earth and his grandfather.
Peter Quill wasn’t sure his grandfather (played once more by Gregg Henry) was even still alive. Viewers knew he was in 2014 when Grandpa Quill appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Ego’s Expansion nearly killed Quill’s grandfather, who barely escaped thanks to his grandson’s heroics halfway across the galaxy.
While Grandpa Quill could still drive at that time, he was already accompanied full-time by a nurse. With Guardians of the GalaxyVol. 3 set at least nine years later, Star-Lord’s fears about his grandfather’s age and health were not unfounded. The elder Quill needed live-in assitance.
Old age didn’t stop Peter Quill’s grandfather from recognizing his grownup grandson immediately in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. More than three decades later, he knew exactly who Peter was by sight, resulting in an emotional moment for both of them and for the audience. And that led us right to Vol. 3‘s second post-credits scene.
What Happened During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s Second Post-Credits Scene?
The movie’s last post-credits scene showed it didn’t take long for the Quill boys to become a family again. It featured the two sitting at a kitchen table for breakfast. Peter Quill ate cereal while his grandpa read a newspaper with a front-page story about Kevin Bacon’s supposed abduction by aliens. That was a direct reference to The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special when Drax and Mantis kidnapped the actor.
The rest of the Vol. 3 scene establishes just how normal Star-Lord’s life on Earth had already become. Peter Quill was talking/complaining about how he would happily mow a neighbor’s lawn even though she had a 45-year-old, able-bodied son entirely capable of doing it himself. Peter’s own (reasonable!) incredulity led his grandfather to cryptically reference his issues about the lazy neighbor. That made Peter want to hear his grandad’s unvarnished thoughts on the matter.
The Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene was a humorous but seemingly mundane moment that established Peter Quill had truly returned home and developed a familial bond with both his grandfather and his community. He had moved on from Gamora and the Guardians and was now part of a normal little neighborhood. It was the exact kind of life he’d spent over 30 years trying to avoid. Star-Lord, the former Ravager who had once been half-god and helped save the galaxy multiple times, became fully domesticated on the planet that had brought him so much pain with a man he previously wasn’t sure even loved him.
(We can forgive eight-year-old Peter for not understanding why his grandfather didn’t want him to see his mom die.)
What Is Chris Pratt’s (and Star-Lord’s) Future in the MCU After Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
The film’s final scene was beautiful in its simplicity. But when it ended, it became far more important than it first appeared. Before we could find out Grandpa Quill’s thoughts on that listless neighbor the scene cut to black. That’s when we found out Chris Pratt’s not done with the MCU just yet. Text appeared at the very end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 saying, “The legendary Star-Lord will return.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy as we knew them are over. There’s a new lineup led by Rocket, and the team is protecting civilizations far from Earth, which has plenty of its own heroes. (A fact former Avenger Rocket knows well.) But that little blue marble now has another great hero it can call on in times of danger. Peter Quill might be domesticated and out of the Guardians business right now, but he hasn’t stopped being the MCU’s Star-Lord. Even without his father’s Celestial powers, he remains a smart, cunning, charming, formidable force for good.
The Avengers can always use someone like that, just as Rocket’s new Guardians could always turn to their former captain for help. It’s even possible Star-Lord could lead his own standalone MCU movie in the MCU someday or be a major part of another character’s film.
Until we know exactly what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have planned for Peter Quill, all we can do is speculate on the specifics of his return.
What we do know, thanks to that last Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene, is that when Star-Lord returns he will be more mature, more grounded, and probably a better hero. He went back to his home world to face his past and address his pain head-on. He’s no longer jumping from lily pad to lily pad; he’s swimming in Earth’s blue waters while his loving grandfather watches over him. And he’s definitely doing so with an even bigger library of music.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.
Originally published May 4, 2023.