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GOTG Vol 3's Big Death Isn't The One We Expected

Contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"

We've known for a long while that the Grim Reaper has been sharpening its scythe ahead of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." Historically, James Gunn has killed characters if the reason is good, and has done so in both previous "Guardians" movies — the original Groot (Vin Diesel) in the first one and Yondu (Michael Rooker) in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." What's more, Gunn dropped the huge "Vol. 3" bombshell about another impending character death way back in 2020, so fans have had plenty of time to think about the "Guardians" characters who are most likely to die

Well, Gunn certainly wasn't lying. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" features plenty of death, from the almost casual end of Sovereign leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) to the latest civilization the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Ewuji) destroys. However, fans who have been bracing themselves for the death of a central Guardian character can walk away from the movie relieved (or disappointed, depending on your outlook). Despite multiple extremely close calls, the heroes all survive the movie and even get a happy ending to their various character arcs. 

That doesn't mean the movie doesn't feature a particularly grueling death, though — it's just that instead of killing off a familiar name, "Vol. 3" opts to establish a new likable character for this purpose. In what just might be the most emotional moment in a movie that's chock full of them, the High Evolutionary guns Lylla (Linda Cardellini) down at the beginning of Rocket's (Bradley Cooper) escape plan. It's a pivotal moment in both the movie and Rocket's life, and though we've only known Lylla for a few scenes, her death and its impact on Rocket is nothing short of devastating.

The Guardians might survive, but Lylla's death is an absolute tearjerker

It can be difficult to market a movie in a way that attracts potential viewers, yet doesn't give away too much of the plot and the big beats. Because of this, promotional material has to straddle a fine line, and the end result isn't always successful — in fact, there are many trailers that gave away too much of the movie

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," on the other hand, takes a different approach. While the movie itself enjoys baiting the viewer with numerous close calls when it comes to character deaths, the trailers deceive the viewer in the opposite way when it comes to Lylla. Marvel fans might go into the movie with the knowledge that Lylla and Rocket have quite a happy storyline in the comics — definitely happier than what they get in the movie. As such, when the promotional materials see the adorable otter embracing Rocket or laughing on the floor, it's all too easy to take these fleeting moments of happiness as a sign of a happy reunion for current-day Rocket.

In reality, however, the movie takes a stark turn for the worse at the moment that happy hug from the trailers happens. Barely a second after this familiar moment, the High Evolutionary ruthlessly shoots Lylla in the back and proceeds to mock Rocket. As if things weren't already bad enough, Floor (Mikaela Hoover) and Teefs (Asim Chaudhry) perish in the chaos that ensues from the shooting and Rocket's attack on the High Evolutionary, leaving the enhanced raccoon well and truly alone in the world.

Sure, Lylla is a relatively minor character in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, her influence on Rocket's life, the shocking circumstances of her death, and the immediate, face-ripping devastation Rocket unleashes in retaliation add up to one of the most impactful death scenes in the franchise.