Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: The More the Merrier... to Die
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be the Guardians' last adventure with Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer) and its creator, James Gunn.
Gunn will be moving on as an executive with DC, while Bautista has long said his time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a close. After the beautifully tragic trailer for the film due in May 2023, fans have been theorizing which Guardians will meet their end.
Drax the Destroyer
The popular answer is Drax, as it has been since he announced on The Ellen DeGeneres show in May 2021 that GOTG Vol. 3 would be the end of his character.
The trailer seems to hint at Drax's death. He's held tightly by his friends – all wearing mysteriously matching outfits – as he has a bloody wound in the chest. Gunn may be hinting at the death of Drax, who would gladly leave the world of the living to reunite with his deceased wife and child.
However, Marvel has proven to be the master of trailer trickery. They've often included clips not present in the actual movie or framed clips to alter the plot; Far From Home even explicitly mentioned the multiverse, though it was proven to be a trick by Mysterio (and Marvel itself).
Moreover, Gunn wouldn't tip his hand so early, spoiling the death of Drax in the trailer. There's one Guardian whose death seems more likely.
Rocket was the only Guardian to survive the snap, though he did grow close with Nebula during the Blip. It stands to reason that he'd be more willing than ever to lay his life down for his friends, now that he's been given the proper perspective on what they mean to him.
While he's proven his heroism in his last few films, even by Infinity War he'd often elected to avoid risk. But in the recent trailer, he said he was done running. It sounds like he's willing to put up a fight, maybe even sacrificing his life, for his friends.
Fans will also be given an insight into Rocket's past, something only briefly mentioned in previous outings. He was seen as a regular raccoon in one shot of the trailer, presumably when he was selected for the experimentation that made him anthropomorphic. It's common storytelling beyond just the MCU to give a character a deep dive into their backstory just before their death.
While Drax and Rocket have been the subject of theories, other Guardians may be on the table.
Star-Lord may meet the alternate version of his lost love, Gamora, only to realize she's not the one he fell for. After death, he may find his true Gamora in the afterlife – something that's been shown to exist in at least three different variations in the MCU.
Nebula has had an incredible character arc, going from villain to vengeance-fueled antagonist to ally to Avenger to a genuine member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Her next step in that arc may be that of a martyr who dies to protect her adopted family.
They're probably safe (for now)
Groot's already made his sacrifice play, reborn as "Baby Groot" and sprouting to the version we see now. Gamora was killed by Thanos in Infinity War's most devastating moment (until the end), and her alternate version was brought to our universe in Endgame. It's unlikely they'd recycle their deaths.
Kraglin and Mantis have been mostly side characters throughout the Guardians' run, both late additions to the lineup. They both starred in the recently-released Christmas special and have become more heartfelt, comedic characters. A tragic death wouldn't fit.
The comedy that's been intrinsic to the Guardians of the Galaxy still abounds, but if the trailer is any evidence, this one will be far more tragic. Gunn has promised an epic finale to the beloved group of misfits, and it looks to be one that will leave moviegoers brokenhearted.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases on May 5, 2023.