The Ultimate List of What to Watch Before ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’

The next installment in Marvel Studios Multiverse Saga, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, hits theaters on May 5, 2023. The Guardians’ story started in 2014 and unexpectedly captured the hearts of audiences across the globe. Those same hearts are set to break as James Gunn closes out the Guardians trilogy with an emotional finale that is sure to see at least one member of the team meet their ultimate fate.

More than just an emotional roller coaster, Vol. 3 looks to be jam-packed and will be the longest film of the trilogy. The threequel will make good on one of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s stingers by introducing Will Poulter‘s Adam Warlock as a weapon pointed directly at the team. As if Warlock won’t be enough to handle, the team will ultimately make their way to Counter-Earth where they’ll meet the man responsible for the pain and suffering that has defined Rocket: the High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji. And they’ll be doing all that while their leader, Chris Pratt‘s Peter Quill, continues to deal with the loss of the love of his life, Gamora, while a Variant version of her ends up working with the team out of their brand-new base in the severed head of a Celestial known as Knowhere. Vol. 3 has a lot in store for audiences but to appreciate what’s happening and where things are going in that film, there’s plenty of homework to be done which is why you’re here for the latest installment of…The Ultimate List of Things to Watch Before!

Tier One

These projects are non-negotiable. If you want to know what’s going on right when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 kicks off, you’ll have to find time to get these in before hitting the theater.

Guardians of the Galaxy

It all started with 2014’s surprise summer hit and any rewatch or first watch should start with the original Guardians of the Galaxy. The core team has grown quite a bit since they first came together in the space prison known as the Kyln in the first film but their origin story is one of the most rewatchable films in the Marvel Studios catalog, even if it does have one of the MCU’s worst villains. Rocket’s tragic origin, which is set to be explored in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, is hinted at here making it worth the watch for that alone. It’s also the start of the romantic relationship between Peter and Gamora which ultimately results in the emotional state Peter is in when Vol. 3 begins.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While James Gunn will undoubtedly include something with the Sovereign in Vol. 3 to help newbies catch up, if you didn’t watch Vol. 2 you might not fully understand why Will Poulter‘s golden godman, Adam Warlock, is after the Guardians…but that’s hardly the only reason to check out Vol. 2. The 2017 sequel is all about relationships, some of which will be key to how you feel walking into and out of Vol. 3. Peter and Gamora’s romance grows; Drax and Mantis begin forming their wonderful friendship; Gamora and Nebula begin the process of repairing their sisterly bond. The core team also expands its roster during the film, adding Mantis and Kraglin. It’s certainly worth a watch to see how hard the next projects hit.

Avengers: Infinity War

Outside of Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War is arguably the most important project to take in ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Not only does the team play a key role in attempting to stop Thanos’ efforts to cut the population of the universe in half but it’s also the final appearance of “Prime” Gamora. Her death, at the hands of her father, changed Peter forever, something that’s center stage in Vol. 3.

Tier Two

If you can’t get to the Tier Two projects before you head to the theaters for Vol. 3, you’ll probably be caught up on the important events in them early on in the threequel. It’s not to say that they aren’t important because to have a complete understanding of each of the characters, every second of time they spend on screen is ultimately important. However, these two projects don’t add to the overall story as much as the others.

Avengers: Endgame

Gamora is back! Except it’s not really Gamora. Nebula’s redemption is complete. The Guardians take off with Thor on some new adventures.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

While the Holiday Special is incredibly entertaining, for a project whose entire focus is on the Guardians, it’s hardly essential viewing. It established that the team has made Knowhere its base of operations and reintroduced and more fully developed Cosmo. It feels more like a Drax and Mantis comedy project and while the pair offer some great laughs, their relationship with each other doesn’t really change much. The Holiday Special’s effort to treat the audience to a shocking reveal falls pretty flat as most everyone who watched Vol. 2 already figured out that Mantis and Peter were siblings. It would seem that everything important about this project could be summed up in 3-5 seconds of screen time in Vol. 3.

Tier Three

Thor: Love and Thunder

Other than showing that Nebula has officially joined the team, the Guaridans’ time in Thor: Love and Thunder was entirely uneventful and, other than for continuity reasons, entirely unnecessary. Of course, the same might be able to be said about Thor: Love and Thunder itself, so it’s hardly the Guardians’ fault. However, if the film is entertaining at all, it is during the scenes on Indigarr when Thor and the Guardians help King Yakan take on the Booskan army led by Habooska the Horrible. Don’t go out of your way to watch it, but if you’re a completist, fast forward to this battle and then turn the TV off immediately.

While it’s not as extensive as other Ultimate Lists have been in the past, it’s still enough to keep you busy in the coming weeks as you prepare for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5th!

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