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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cast, release date and more

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 logo with Marvel Studios branding
(Image credit: Marvel)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is one of the most anticipated upcoming Marvel movies, not just because it will mark director James Gunn's return (and possible departure from) the MCU. It also looks to be the final chapter of the Guardians' story (spinoffs are not to be ruled out).

While Marvel and Gunn have guarded the details about Guardians 3 closely, we've learned enough about its casting from Gunn's own social media posts. And, a big new piece of casting is out, giving fans plenty of reason to start speculating about what's next for Star-Lord and crew.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cast

Peter Quill, Drax, Rocket, Gamora and Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The big news about the Guardians 3 casting is that James Gunn and Marvel have found their Adam Warlock. Deadline broke the news that Will Poulter (Midsommar, We're The Millers, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) will play the role. Gunn previously told IGN that he plans to bring Elizabeth Debicki back as Ayesha, who had teased Warlock in a Guardians 2 post-credit scene.

Of course, we'll also get the main Guardians back, with Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Dave Bautista (Drax), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Bradley Cooper (as the voice of Rocket), Vin Diesel (as the voice of Groot) and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. And, yes, we'll get to ask "How is Gamora?" as Avengers: Endgame brought her back to life, taking a 2014 Gamora and inserting her in 2023.

On his Instagram Stories (via ScreenRant) Gunn confirmed that his brother Sean Gunn will be back as Kraglin (Yondu's Ravager acquaintance).

Less clear is the possibility of Sylvester Stallone reprising the role of Stakar in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Before Gunn left Marvel in 2018, he told the Toronto Sun that "My plan is to see more of Stakar. ... I’m not sure about him appearing in Vol. 3, we’ll have to see about that, but it’s our plan to see more of Stallone. Kevin (Feige) and I are working on what is going to become of the Marvel Cosmic Universe and where it’s going to go. We plan to see the rest of them in the future," with the "them" being  Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum) and Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus).

But that may not be delayed, as those words came before Gunn's temporary departure from the MCU, and his Aug. 2021 interview with the NYTimes where he said that Guardians Vol. 3 "is probably the last one, ... because of the ability to do different stuff in the DC multiverse, it’s fun." Could Gunn move those characters' returns up just so that he's the one who gets to direct them?

The “them” Gunn is referring to is the original Guardians crew, which includes Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Krugarr (a CG character), the Miley Cyrus-voiced Mainframe, as well as Stallone’s Starhawk and Michael Rosenbaum’s Martinex. Michael Rooker’s Yondu was also once part of this crew.

As for Michael Rooker, as Yondu? Well, don't expect him to return to life, after sacrificing himself for Star-Lord. Gunn tweeted that "As I've said before, Yondu is dead and will stay dead as long as I'm involved with the Guardians ... His death means something to people and I'm not about to diminish that." (via Digital Spy, original Tweet no longer available).

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date

In a clip entitled "Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies," which hyped crowds for the Marvel movies to come, including the then-unreleased Black Widow, we learned that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is coming out on May 5, 2023.

The Guardians 3 release date was rumored for May 2023 for a while (Disney releases schedules with dates tied to slots such as "Untitled Marvel Movie"), but that was confirmed. 

The Deadline report that broke the news of Poulter cast as Adam Warlock noted that production is expected to begin in November 2021.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 villain: Adam Warlock 

Adam Warlock's origin

(Image credit: Marvel)

While plot details about Guardians 3 are not revealed at the moment, it's not hard to see what they've set up with Adam Warlock. Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), leader of the Sovereign, had tasked the Guardians with defending the Abilisk, and then, hired Yondu to hunt them down. She was then imprisoned for all that, because the rest of the Sovereign accused her of wasting resources. In a Guardians 2 post-credit scene, she's revealed that she's created a being (then in a Birth Pod) named Adam, to take out the Guardians. 

What's curious is that the Adam Warlock in the comics was tied to the Soul Stone (one of the Infinity Stones), which was in his forehead.

That said, we're not sure that Warlock will be the main villain of Guardians 2. The Adam Warlock of the comics famously defied the will of the Earth-based scientists who made him. So maybe he won't follow Ayesha's will after all.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot

Nothing else has been revealed about the Guardians 3 plot, but we can surmise one of its stories based on previous films in the series.

The Gamora we'll see in Vol.3  basically does not know who Star-Lord and the other Guardians are. No, it's not amnesia: it's time travel, this is 2014's Gamora. So, expect a not-insubstantial portion of the movie to be about the team adjusting to this new/old Gamora. Of course, that includes Star-Lord, who is likely still in love with her, and was so unleashed about his feelings for her that he screwed things up with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.