The Guardians of the Galaxy is the MCU’s most important franchise as Avengers: Infinity War would not have been possible without the introduction of this team of misfits into the team. It was the biggest surprise given to us by Marvel. Their faith in James Gunn and his will to bring this team to life in the absence of other big characters that Marvel didn’t have rights to is commendable! We may have never seen this franchise take form if Marvel would have had X-men with them. But thankfully, we did and now it is all coming to an end in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
It is one of the most successful franchises of MCU, as in just two movies, it has grossed over $1.6 Billion Worldwide. Not just the fans, this baby of James Gunn has also managed to impress the critics really well as both the movies were certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes getting 91% and 83% Scores respectively. Team up movies do really well in the MCU and this particular franchise has maintained the standard of Team Up movies set by the Avengers franchise.
Both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 take place in a span of around 6 months to one year, and after Vol. 2 followed Avengers: Infinity War which had at least a 3 years gap in between. Vol. 2 teased the entry of Adam Warlock and it also explored the galaxy even more by getting more characters to come in play.
Since there were 3 years between Infinity War and Guardians Vol. 2, also the fact that all the Guardians except for Rocket & Nebula were disintegrated and are deemed to be permanently dead spawns the idea of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to actually take place sometime in those 3 years, and act as a prequel to Avengers: Infinity War.
It has been suggested by many fans all around the internet that the timeline of the Guardians movie is actually before Infinity War because there is a lot of character development that could happen in those three years, and a movie could easily be based in that time. This would also play well with what happened in Infinity War and how all the Guardians died in there with Avengers 4 to follow up.
But this dilemma of when the movie actually takes place has now been solved by the director of the Guardians franchise, James Gunn. Here’s what he replied to a tweet asking this particular question:
So now that the air is cleared, we do know that the Guardians are surely going to be back in Avengers 4 somehow because of the fact that they have a sequel coming in 2020. We know for sure that Rocket and Nebula are not the ones who could hold the biggest movie in their franchise, which is their third one that is supposed to be the most game-changing event of their journey.
Even though we would like to see what the Guardians were doing in between those 3-4 years before they met Thor, the movie has to take place after Infinity War and Avengers 4 because of the fact that we know that whatever happens in the movie is not going to be big enough to change the lives of the Guardians majorly if it did end up being a prequel to Guardians Vol. 3.
We saw that all the Guardians were intact in Avengers: Infinity War and the team was exactly the same, with no deaths or anything big having happened to them in those 3 years, so if Guardians Vol. 3 would take place in that timeline, then it would take a lot of weight from such an important movie as we would know the final outcome will not be as lethal to actually change anything. Also the fact that the movie comes in Phase 4, we would not like to see a prequel set in Phase 3.
We know that the third movie is going to be the last one of the franchise, and it will take us to the endless boundaries of space, bringing in many more characters like Warlock, the old team of Guardians led by Sylvester Stallone’s Starhawk, and possibly the entry of Nova, it gives us all the more reason for this movie to happen after Avengers 4.
Since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is confirmed to come out in 2020, and Marvel has a scheduled release date for May 1, 2020, we could probably expect the final Guardians movi to take place in that slot.