Before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premiered, we got plenty of teasers from writer/director James Gunn that the final story in this trilogy wouldn’t be the comedy fans expected. It would be much darker than previous installments. These teasers implied that some of the franchise’s biggest characters might die. Separately, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 rumors and leaks seemed to confirm many of the deaths, including one particular character.
The movie is out in theaters right now, so we know exactly who lives and dies. In what follows below, I’ll cover all the major character deaths, and what they imply. Make sure you watch the movie first, because big Guardians Vol. 3 spoilers will follow below.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is very brutal
Death is inescapable in Marvel’s MCU movies. It’s something that the studio often uses to prove that the stakes are real. Nobody is safe, and our favorite superheroes don’t always survive every fight. If anything, Marvel uses death far too often for villains, effectively destroying chances of seeing some of the better bad guys of the MCU in future movies.
Even if the heroes or villains survive, there’s plenty of death in superhero movies. Innocent bystanders will be picked off while the heroes and villains duke it out. And on that note, there’s a great deal of bloodshed in Guardians Vol. 3.
It’s not just some of the servants of the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). An entire planet dies once the villain decides that Counter-Earth isn’t the perfect society he set out to make.
Add all the experimenting on animals the High Evolutionary does, and the body count climbs even higher. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is much more brutal than the previous entries.
Guardians of the Galaxy deaths
In the weeks preceding the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premiere, I expected Drax (Dave Bautista) to be the film’s only death among the Guardians. That’s what a seemingly accurate plot leak suggested. But the narrative changed soon after leaks started coming from fans who saw the movie in early screenings. The leakers revealed that all the Guardians would survive.
The plot leak was accurate aside from the Drax detail. An older leak which claimed that Marvel had filmed separate Guardian death scenes might be accurate too, because several of the Guardians came close to dying in the movie.
It’s not just Rocket (Bradley Cooper), although the raccoon technically died for a few minutes. Thankfully, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) wouldn’t give up on his friend.
We saw Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax (Dave Bautista) sustain major injuries during the various battles. Even Nebula (Karen Gillan) was in danger halfway through the movie, as the Guardians raided OrgoCorp to find Rocket’s source code. Then Peter almost dies in space near the end of the movie, but Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) saves him.
Warlock, now a member of the Guardians following Vol. 3, is also saved by Groot (Vin Diesel), who thinks everyone deserves a second chance.
That’s to say, none of the Guardians die in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. However, the original group has disbanded. So, in a philosophical sense, the first Guardians team just “died.”
Only Groot and Rocket remain, with the latter being the team’s new captain. Everyone else departed on their own journeys or stayed on Knowhere.
In the former group, we have Peter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). They each left Knowhere to start new lives. Staying on Knowhere are Nebula and Drax, who will lead the colony and take care of the children, respectively. Technically, Rocket and Groot are also based on Knowhere, but they will continue to traverse the galaxy as Guardians.
But the movie also delivered a few real deaths.
The High Evolutionary is gone; or is he?
You might have seen Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary trending on social media after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with some fans asking Marvel to recast Kang the Conquerer with the actor. That’s because Iwuji absolutely kills it in this role.
The High Evolutionary is an incredibly cruel person — a villain you will absolutely despise. You want the Guardians to kill him, but they don’t. However, since his spaceship is destroyed by the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, his death seems all but certain. But it’s not confirmed. And hopefully, Marvel has more plans featuring this villain (or at least the actor).
Ayesha’s surprising death in Guardians Vol. 3
As a fan of Elizabeth Debicki, I was sad to see Ayesha die in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But she died just as the entire race of Sovereign lived: Stupidly.
Guardians Vol. 3 reveals that the Sovereign are creations of the High Evolutionary. And they’re another failed experiment. The only exception would have been Adam Warlock, but the High Evolutionary hatched Adam too early, so he’s really an overpowered, full-grown baby.
I’d have loved to see more of Ayesha in the MCU. But the queen couldn’t fly off using her spaceship before Counter-Earth exploded beneath her. Intelligence doesn’t run in this species. It’s a sad way to go. But, again, in line with the Sovereigns.
Lylla, Teefs, and Floor – the heartbreaking deaths
We first saw Lylla (Linda Cardellini), Teefs (Asim Chaudhry), and Floor (Mikaela Hoover) during Marvel’s marketing for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. We didn’t necessarily expect to see their deaths on-screen, though,eEspecially considering some rumors said we’d see more of Lylla in the future.
But these deaths are worth mentioning, as they’re crucial to the plot and utterly heartbreaking. Rocket blamed himself his entire life. Until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he thought he was responsible for his friends’ deaths. And that’s what set him on the journey that eventually ended up with him meeting the Guardians and the Avengers.
I’ll also point out that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gives us another example of the afterlife in the MCU. That’s an important detail in the overall MCU story, as this plane of existence needs further explaining. Rocket talks to Lylla during his brief death scene, coming to peace with the fate of his lost friends.
It’s a similar experience to what we see in Black Panther with the Ancestral Plane. We’ve also seen similar life-after-death scenes in Moon Knight and Thor: Love and Thunder. Then there’s Thanos’s experience in Infinity War. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 giving us this Rocket-Lylla heaven scene, we will soon need an explanation for the dimensions where souls go after they die.