The latest movie in the MCU has a real note of finality, with writer/director James Gunn leaving Marvel to reign over rival DC Studios. Even the series’ star actors, like Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista, have said Guardians 3 is their final Marvel movie.
But it’s not everyone’s last film in the MCU. As the post-credit scene reveals, at least one prominent Guardian is sticking around, possibly to star in their own solo movie (or Disney+ series) and maybe stay to see the events of Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. But who is the last Guardian?
Below, we break down the post-credit scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and what it means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Warning: Spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ahead.
What Happens in the Mid-Credit and Post-Credit Scenes?
The mid-credits of Vol. 3 confirm that the Guardians of the Galaxy have a new roster made up of Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a girl that the Guardians rescued earlier in the movie, and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) taking over for Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) as its leader.
Peter, meanwhile, has gone back to Earth. Convinced by Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to resume the life he left behind, Peter is now back in Missouri and reunites with his maternal grandfather.
In the movie’s post-credit scene, Peter is sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast with his grandpa. (But look closely at the newspaper — Kevin Bacon’s Christmastime abduction is still making headlines!) As Peter moans about having to mow the lawn, the movie fades to white text that confirms via text: “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return.”
Is Star-Lord Staying in the MCU?
While the future of the MCU is still uncertain, Kevin Feige did map out all of Phase Five last summer at San Diego Comic-Con.
Nowhere in those plans does it look like Star-Lord could make a return, at least in a way that makes sense. With shows like Secret Invasion, Echo, and Ironheart, and movies like Blade, Captain America: New World Order, and Thunderbolts all on the docket, it’s unlikely when and where MCU fans will see Chris Pratt return as Star-Lord. (Maybe we’ll see him in Loki Season 2?)
But while Phase Five may be full, Phase Six is way more open to possibilities as the only confirmed projects for it are Fantastic Four and the next two Avengers films. A Star-Lord movie or Disney+ series could fill in any of the open spaces.
The next question now is what story Star-Lord’s return will tell. Is Star-Lord now a “reverse alien” story, about a spaceman who cannot adjust to his original home on Earth? Will Star-Lord pick up his laser guns and dish out midwestern justice like a comic book version of Justified? Or will Peter Quill actually settle down only to be pulled back when things get out of hand?
Also, remember, there are two more Avengers films. Does Star-Lord’s past alliance with Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Iron Man in their fight against Thanos qualify him for membership?
Whatever is in store for Star-Lord, just know he’s always been capable of striking out on his own. After his comics debut in 1976, Star-Lord spent a long time riding solo and starring in his own series of comic books. (He didn’t actually join the Guardians of the Galaxy until 2008.) Now that he’s headlined a trilogy of cosmic Marvel movies, his return to the MCU will place him where he’s truly never been before: Earth.