This article contains spoilers from past Marvel movies. Read no further if you're not caught up on the MCU!
Since they were first introduced in the summer of 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy have been in some of the best Marvel movies where they have experienced various deaths. There was Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu in 2017’s sequel, and then again in Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos threw Gamora off a cliff before dusting away all but two members of the team. Those characters came back, but that might not be the case for someone in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In September 2021, a Twitter account reposted a detail from one of James Gunn's Instagram stories (via Comicbook.com) from 2020 where the filmmaker said "Yes" when asked if someone will die in the franchise's third entry, and people went crazy. This got us thinking — who is going to die when we see the Guardians again? Dave Bautista’s Drax? Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord? Let’s break down all the candidates in the Marvel deadpool, just not that Deadpool…
With the manner in which Gamora (Zoe Saldana) was killed during her father’s quest to secure all six Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War and brought back (as a different version of the character) in Avengers: Endgame, it seems very unlikely James Gunn will kill her off again once Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes around in 2023. At this time, we don’t even know what type of character Gamora is going to be when we see the Guardians again (remember the Endgame version was from an earlier point in the timeline before she first met Star-Lord and company), so it’s hard to say how things will play out for one of the most dangerous characters in the MCU.
Similar to Gamora, Groot (Vin Diesel) has already “died” before, but instead of being gone for good, he came back as the adorable Baby Groot before becoming the angsty and foul-mouthed Teen Groot in Avengers: Infinity War, where he was turned to dust in one of the most shocking moments of that movie. With so much emotion put into his death all that time ago, it seems unlikely that Rocket's best friend will die again. And even if Groot were to die in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, wouldn’t he just be reborn again? If this ends up being the case, it would take the wind out of the sails of James Gunn’s confirmation that a character will die.
You could make a case for Rocket (Bradley Cooper) being the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 character who ends up biting the dust since he’s had one of the best story arcs of any of his teammates so far. And as much sense as it makes to complete his journey by either getting killed off in some grand fashion or sacrificing himself to save the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, dying just doesn’t seem like Rocket’s style. He’s a resourceful genetically-modified being who seems to find a way to come out on top more times than not. But this could also just be wishful thinking that Rocket shows up in one of the upcoming Marvel TV shows at some point…
This might be the wild card of the bunch, but there’s a case to be made for Mantis (Pom Klementieff) being the character who finally meets their end (for good this time) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Even though she was dusted in the Blip alongside Drax and Star-Lord following their fight with Thanos on Titan in Avengers: Infinity War, Mantis is ripe for an emotional conclusion to her heartbreaking story. After being Ego’s servant for all that time, she finally found a family in the Guardians, for whom she’s willing to do anything. That could very well mean death as she could sacrifice herself in order for her family to live another day.
Of all the Guardians of the Galaxy, few have been through as much as Nebula (Karen Gillan). Following years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse at the hands of her adoptive father Thanos, Nebula was turned into Marvel’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster with a cold heart and lack of empathy. That slowly began to change through her run-ins with the Guardians, eventually becoming a member of the ragtag group following a series of adventures. After everything she has been through in order to save the universe and reverse her father’s actions, it only makes sense for Nebula to complete her arc by sacrificing herself to protect the only true family she has ever known and give the galaxy another chance.
3. Kraglin Obfonteri
James Gunn has a history of killing off family members in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, so it should come as no surprise that Kraglin Obfonteri, who is portrayed by Sean Gunn, is this high up on the listing of possible deaths in the third chapter of the franchise. You can make an even stronger case with Kraglin being the character who meets their maker in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 when you consider everything he’s been through since we first met him in 2014. He helped save Xandar with the Nova Corps and the rest of the Ravagers, he survived a mutiny (and never lost faith in Yondu), and even showed up (in a deleted scene) in Avengers: Endgame. Kraglin dying to either save or inspire the Guardians in their supposed final rodeo could be a fitting end for such a beloved character.
Ever since we first met Drax (Dave Bautista) in Guardians of the Galaxy, he has had his sights set on Thanos, vowing revenge on the Mad Titan for murdering his family all those years ago. And while Drax never really got a chance to avenge his wife and child, the fearless warrior crossed paths with Thanos a couple of times before the big bad was vanquished for good in Avengers: Endgame. With the main thing keeping him going all those years dead and gone, it will be interesting to see what motivates Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Who knows, Drax may very well find himself in a position where he can finally be reunited with his deceased family, especially with Dave Bautista saying he won’t be returning following the release of one of the most anticipated upcoming Marvel movies.
Over the years, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord has had a pretty rough life. First, he was kidnapped by a group of space pirates on the night his mom died, discovered that his dad was a living planet hellbent on ruling the universe, lost the love of his life, cost the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy’s best chance at preventing Thanos from snapping away half of all life, and then was turned into a pile of dust. Time will tell if Star-Lord ever fully recovered from his fatal mistake in Avengers: Infinity War, but it would make perfect sense for him to prove he is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy once and for all by doing what all captains are supposed to do when they’re met with a cataclysmic event: go down with the ship.
It is hard to say which character will be the one to die in Guardians of the Galaxy since there is still Thor: Love and Thunder and the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special coming out before we see the third and possible final chapter of the franchise. In the meantime, why not go back and watch all the Marvel movies in order so that you can pick up clues or other tells about the characters’ fates.