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This Is Where Thor 4 Will Take Place In The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth Thor in store, is scheduled to touch down in theaters on November 5, 2021. That's all great and wonderful and more than enough to send fans racing to mark their calendars, but a major question remained after Marvel Studios announced Love and Thunder's release date. We know when it's coming to the big screen, but where does it take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Thanks to Marvel luminary James Gunn, who was not long ago reinstated as the writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, we have an answer. 

In the comments section of his recent Instagram post congratulating Avengers: Endgame on beating Avatar at the box office, Gunn fielded a question about Thor: Love and Thunder's place in the MCU in relation to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. A fan inquired whether Love and Thunder will be set before or after the new Guardians flick, and Gunn gave a simple, one-word answer: "Before" (via @Broadlock0 on Twitter). 

Gunn's response was clear — the fourth Thor comes ahead of the third Guardians — but it opens up a whole can of worms and invites a lot of speculation. 

The last we saw of the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) was at the end of Avengers: Endgame, where he was sporting a brand-new physique and a renewed interpretation of what it means to be a superhero, handing the kingship of New Asgard over to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and teaming with the Guardians of the Galaxy gang led by Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), who was shown analyzing a map for any signs of the 2014 version of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who wasn't seen after the big battle with Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Now, Marvel filmmakers and screenwriters basically never do anything without serious forethought (and plenty of reflection, as evidenced by the fact that Avengers: Infinity War scribes Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely originally had a very different storyline in mind for the Hulk and scrapped it entirely when they realized it wasn't working). It's for this reason that we can imagine Thor and the Guardians will be together at least at the start of Thor: Love and Thunder to pick up from where their story left off in Endgame — exactly like how the events of Avengers: Infinity War started mere moments after the action of Thor: Ragnarok ended. 

In their last scene in Endgame, Thor and Star-Lord were seen passive-aggressively arguing over who should be the true leader of the Guardians as they head off on their new mission. One could easily assume that this bickering quickly pushes Star-Lord to say something along the lines of, "Thor, I'm in charge here. We appreciate you wanting to help, but you're not coming along with us. Head back to New Asgard — we'll reach out if we need you." That could be the inciting incident of Thor: Love and Thunder, as the film probably won't heavily feature the Guardians since it is, after all, a Thor standalone. 

Additionally, having Thor and the Guardians go their separate ways at the beginning of Love and Thunder wouldn't stop Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from potentially following the galaxy-saving gang as they find 2014 Gamora, tell her everything that's happened and how the 2018 Gamora died in Infinity War, and try to convince her to join the team again. It also leaves the door open for Guardians 3 to feature Thor, which is something that a lot of people, including Hemsworth himself, really want

Gunn's confirmation of where in the MCU Thor: Love and Thunder takes place unfortunately doesn't address when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will debut in theaters. Prior to the Walt Disney Company booting him from the film after unsavory past tweets of his surfaced, Gunn was planning for the next entry in his franchise to premiere sometime in 2020. Plans changed after he was fired, when Warner Bros. and DC Films poached Gunn to write and direct The Suicide Squad, a reboot-slash-sequel to David Ayer's Suicide Squad. (They have almost the same title and some of the same stars, but Gunn's film going to take a whole new approach to the property. It's a little confusing, we know.) At the time, it didn't look like Disney was ever going to consider rehiring Gunn for Guardians 3, so he got to work on The Suicide Squad. The House of Mouse eventually changed its tune and tapped Gunn to come back on board, but by then, Gunn was committed to a whole 'nother movie in a totally different comic book film franchise. Gunn has since stated that he'll finish The Suicide Squad before starting production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so that previously projected 2020 release date is no longer valid. 

And neither are those past predictions that Guardians 3 would be a Phase 4 movie. At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel dropped a slate of five movies and five television shows arriving in 2020 and 2021, which studio head Kevin Feige has said is the "complete" Phase 4 for the time being. There's no sign of Guardians on that slate, which seems to mean that the next time we see the Guardians trying to save the galaxy, it'll be in Phase 5, probably in 2022 or 2023. 

There are still some lingering questions when it comes to Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but we know two things for sure: Love and Thunder will bring us Natalie Portman's Jane Foster as Mighty Thor, and will introduce Valkyrie as the first openly LGBTQ+ superhero in the MCU. It may or may not have the Guardians of the Galaxy in it, but Love and Thunder is definitely going to be both lovely and thunderously fun.