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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: 5 reasons we're excited and 5 reasons we're worried

We don't know a lot yet about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but we know enough to be both excited and worried. We know James Gunn is returning, and we know the planned release date is some time in 2020. We know Gunn says the third film will the "final iteration" of the team we've come to know, and Vol. 3 will serve as an "epic conclusion" to the trilogy.

Opinions differ as far as quality is concerned, but so far from at least a financial point of view, Marvel Studios has yet to produce an outright bomb. So while on one hand that obviously means it's great to be a Marvel fan, on the other, to be an MCU fan is to be in a constant state of worry for the inevitable moment when Marvel finally messes up. 

Here are five reasons we're excited — and five reasons we're worried — about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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Worried: How could it get any better?

What goes up must come down, right? The Guardians of the Galaxy films have kept going up and up, and there's this looming question of how they could possibly be better. 

Both Guardians films were critical and financial successes. Characters like Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord, who were once obscure fodder for only the most initiated comic book fans, are now household names. "I am Groot" is as well-known a phrase as "Use the force, Luke." How can the third installment hope to top what they've already achieved?

Third chapters of well-loved franchises can let down fans hard. Even if the third chapter isn't hated, at the very least they're often the least favorite of their respective trilogies. Which isn't to say Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will necessarily meet the same unloved fate. But, suffice to say, while there are reasons to be excited, there are more than enough reasons to be worried. 

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Excited: The 'epic conclusion'

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn is promising to deliver fans an "epic conclusion" of the series — and he also plans to build a foundation for what's to come. He's said Vol. 3 will help pave the way for the next "10 to 20 years" of Marvel films, and that more cosmic characters will be making their way to theaters. We may also see spinoff films — Vin Diesel believes a Groot movie is inevitable.

Marvel Comics boasts over half a century worth of stories featuring superheroes in space, like Silver SurferNovaQuasar and Warlock. Through Guardians and other MCU films we've seen Sakaar of Planet Hulk, we've seen the rage of the Kree, we've visited Xandar, we've met Ego the Living Planet, and we've met Elders of the Universe like the Collector and the Grandmaster. Still, we've barely scratched the surface, and that's reason enough to be excited about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.  

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Worried: 'Who the hell are you guys?'

The Guardians of the Galaxy films are arguably the most autonomous of the MCU. Someone who had never heard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or seen any other MCU film could watch both Guardians films and enjoy them. Hypothetically, if no other MCU film had ever been made, the Guardians films could still have enjoyed the same success with few changes. If anything, Thanos would either have to become more of a focus in the films or be eliminated from them.

But with Avengers: Infinity War, the Guardians of the Galaxy met the Avengers. With the next Guardians film not scheduled until after both Infinity War and its Avengers sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will have two non-Guardians movies worth of character deaths and plot baggage to deal with. The hypothetical audience member who loves Guardians but knows nothing about the rest of the MCU is going to find themselves asking what the hell happened to (insert Guardian name here)?  

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Excited: Adam Warlock

Ever since they saw Thanos at the end of Avengers, Marvel Comics fans have been waiting for the coming of Adam Warlock. One of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's mid/post-credits scenes hinted that it wasn't far off. When the Sovereign ruler Ayesha mulled over the elaborate cocoon holding someone called "Adam," most fans were sure they knew exactly who she was talking about.

Adam Warlock's introduction in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an exciting prospect. Created in the '70s, Warlock has been pivotal in most of the Marvel heroes' epic struggles against Thanos. James Gunn almost brought the character to life in Vol. 2. He said Warlock was an important part of an early treatment, but that he was "one character too many."

Gunn has warned fans that "the time must be right" for Warlock's MCU arrival. Still, considering his commitment to broadening the MCU's cosmic landscape, it seems a likely and exciting possibility.

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Worried: Contradictions

At the E3 convention in 2017, Gunn told fans there was something he wanted to do in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that would contradict the mugshot scene of the first film, when different members of the team were arrested and biographical information showed up on the screen. He didn't say which character or characters this was in reference to, but that "it was distinctly there, and people know it's there."

On one hand, this seems relatively minor. The information on the screen is just data the Nova Corps has, and could always be inaccurate. On the other hand, this could give fans every right to be worried about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Particularly considering the huge changes to the very nature of the MCU displayed in Thor: Ragnarok, you might argue contradicting even minor established continuity is part of a slippery slope the MCU is already on its way down.

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Excited: 'What the hell's a raccoon?'

James Gunn has an origin story for Rocket. Whether he'll tell it in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 remains to be seen, but it would be a natural follow-up.

The Rocket Raccoon of the comics has a pretty wild origin. He first appeared in 1976's Marvel Preview #7, but with the name Rocky. He later appeared as Rocket Raccoon five years later in Incredible Hulk #271. Three years after that, co-creator Bill Mantlo and artist Mike Mignola collaborated on a Rocket Raccoon miniseries in which the hero was a different kind of Guardian. He and his comrades, all talking animals, were caretakers for a place called Half-World, full of lunatic humans who were utterly helpless on their own.

Gunn's said his version will be more "horrible" than the source material. Regardless, it's hard to not be excited for the prospect of learning more about the MCU's favorite fuzzy curmudgeon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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Worried: 'Aw hell. I don't got that long a lifespan anyway.'

Both chapters of Guardians of the Galaxy gave us the heartbreaking and heroic death of a member of the team — Groot in the original (and since Gunn has confirmed the new Groot is not the same character, there's no argument as to whether his sacrifice was genuine), and Star-Lord's adoptive father Yondu in Vol. 2.

Considering each movie has killed one Guardian, and considering Gunn's comments that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will end this "iteration of the team," the prospect of one or more Guardians getting taken out seems pretty likely.

Some of the Guardians might welcome death. Drax spoke longingly of being with his family before the first film's climax. No one could be faulted for using the phrase "terminally miserable" to describe Rocket or Nebula. Still, the Guardians are some of the most well loved characters of the MCU, and worrying over their coming fate in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is natural.

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Excited: Full-size Groot

From the teen Groot mid-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 we can guess that Groot v. 2.0 grows at a pretty fast rate. So after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, we should be excited for a full-size Groot back in the fold by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

True, Gunn has confirmed this Groot is a different character. Still, you know, at the very least he seems to have similar dialogue. And he looks at least a little bit similar? Maybe it's just the eyes.

As adorable as Baby Groot has been, it will be nice to see him dealing with worthier prey than rats and flies. If any Ravager jerks try to douse him with beer or smack him around like they did in Vol. 2, odds are we'll get to watch him tear through them as easily he did the Sakaarian "paper people" of the first film.

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Worried: No more Gunn?

We know James Gunn will write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but what about after?

Gunn's connection with the characters is a big part of not only what has made Guardians of the Galaxy a success critically and commercially, but what's kept him in the hardcore fans' good graces. But everything he's said about Vol. 3 being the "epic conclusion" of the story he began in the first film has a tone of finality. And that's a tone to be worried about if we want more Guardians films.

It would be a huge blow to the MCU in general, and the Guardians franchise in particular, if Gunn were to leave. We've seen with Thor: Ragnarok how taking some pages out of Gunn's book can turn a franchise around. Without Gunn, we might start getting movies that come off like nothing but bad James Gunn clones, particularly if Guardians continues without him.

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Excited: So THAT'S where Luke went

If there's no other reason to be excited about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it's enough that we might be seeing Yoda's final student hanging out with Star-Lord.

In February 2018, a Twitter user named Ian Fee asked Gunn if he would consider offering Mark Hamill — best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker — a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This sparked a series of polite tweets between Gunn and Hamill which appeared to end with an agreement between the two to meet to discuss the possibility over coffee. Time will tell if Hamill gets a role with substance or just a cameo (which would still be cool).

Were this casting to be realized, it would not only enrich the viewing experience for fans, it would be one more step to making the franchise-crossing Star Wars pitch Patton Oswalt improvised in Parks & Recreation into a glorious reality.