When Marvel unveiled most of its MCU Phase 4 titles back at Comic-Con in July, we told you there will be no Avengers, Guardians, and Spider-Man stories in 2020 or 2021. Little did we know at the time that Disney and Sony were fighting over Spider-Man, and that Spider-Man 3 would be added to the 2021 roster of new Marvel films. As for the next Avengers and Guardians sequels, they’re dropping in Phase 5 at the earliest, and we now have a rumor that tells us the purported release date of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
According to Charles Murphy, who has had a few big MCU scoops in the recent past, Guardians 3 is set to premiere on February 17th, 2023.
Heard another date for Vol. 3. It's based off old info, so it's possible it already changed. I'm not going to put it on the list at this point because people go nuts over that, but it sort of lines up with Karen's comments the other day, so I figured I would share it.
— Charles I Don't Know About That Trailer Murphy (@_CharlesMurphy) December 16, 2019
That means you’ll have to wait a long while to see some of your favorite characters in action again, but that date makes perfect sense for Marvel. The company already unveiled eight release dates for Phase 5, which is what we’re calling the timespan from 2022 to 2023. Only one of those eight films has a working title, and that’s Black Panther 2, which is coming on May 2022.
There’s a big reason why Guardians 3 can’t happen any sooner than that, and it all has to do with the Endgame timeline. Marvel gave itself a five-year window between Infinity War and Endgame that can be used to introduce new heroes and villains, and to build up the next Endgame-like epic adventure. Movies like Black Widow and The Eternals are going to take place in the past, and the same might go for other upcoming origin stories.
Sequels that involve characters who’ve been blipped, like Black Panther 2 and Guardians 3 should premiere closer to 2023, which is the new present-day in the MCU timeline, for all the heroes who have been dead for five years. Spider-Man: Far From Home is an exception to that rule. The film takes place in the aftermath of Endgame, therefore at some point in 2023. The same probably goes for Spider-Man 3, which premieres in 2021.
One other thing to consider, other than the MCU timeline, is James Gunn’s own time to work on the third Guardians film. After being fired by Disney, Gunn took on the remake of Suicide Squad and that film is supposed to launch in August 2021. We already know he won’t start shooting Guardians 3 until that happens. An early 2023 launch would make sense for the film.