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The Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy has one more story to tell.

Avengers: Endgame was a fitting conclusion to the first 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the film also left the MCU with plenty of unresolved story arcs. The introduction of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as Captain America, 2012 Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) escape with the Tesseract, and Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) journey of self-discovery all need to be told.

Yet, the film also leaves writer/director James Gunn in a tricky spot for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The fallen Guardians were mostly snapped back into existence in the third act of Avengers: Endgame. But Gamora (Zoe Saldana) — or, at least, the one audiences and our heroes know — remains very much dead. In her place, we have a Gamora left out of time.

Zoe Saldana at the premiere of 'Avengers: Endgame'
Zoe Saldana at the premiere of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

‘Avengers: Endgame’ left a time-traveled Gamora off on her own

Just as the Avengers are ready to celebrate the return of half the universe, Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his army burst through the time portal from 2014 into 2023. Gamora — who, at this point, is on the verge of rejecting Thanos — remains with them in their search for the Infinity Stones. Audiences never see Gamora after the battle, though Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) searches for her.

A deleted scene in which all the MCU’s heroes pay tribute to Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) sacrifice confirms Gamora survived the battle. But the movie offers little indication of what she’ll do next. With no memory of her time with the Guardians (or her romance with Star-Lord), Gamora has no reason to stick around. She suddenly finds herself in a brand-new time.

So how will Gunn proceed from here? Clearly, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will need to address Gamora’s new state. Though fans expect the Guardians will cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder, it’s unlikely that brief appearance will touch on Gamora. If anything, perhaps Thor will wish Star-Lord luck on his continuing search for Gamora before setting off on his own adventure.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ will have to resolve Gamora’s storyline

With the way Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ended, the next film will likely feature the long-awaited appearance of Adam Warlock. But now Avengers: Endgame heaps on the added pressure of wrapping up Gamora’s story in a satisfying way. With years of memories separating her from the Guardians, fans are anxious to discover how Gunn will restore Gamora to her old self.

In a recent Twitter exchange, Gunn debunked one fan theory regarding bringing Gamora’s memories back. The fan speculated that Mantis’ (Pom Klementieff) empathetic powers — which include sensing and controlling others’ emotions — could be the key. But Gunn was quick to distinguish emotions from memories, and Mantis’ powers only extend to the former.

Gamora’s story might be stronger without her memories restored

If Mantis can’t give 2014 Gamora the memories of the woman Thanos sacrificed to secure the Soul Stone, surely there must be another way. Right? After all, the realm inside the Soul Stone is a whole thing in the comics. But what if Gamora actually doesn’t get her memories back? Perhaps there is a way Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could even benefit from such an arc.

Think about it. Gamora is only beginning to reciprocate Star-Lord’s affections by the end of Vol. 2. Because Avengers: Infinity War jumps ahead a few years, the two are deeply in love by then. But this is a story and character progression on Gamora’s part fans have never seen depicted. So having 2014 Gamora join the team in Vol. 3 wouldn’t really undo that much.

Moreover, 2014 Gamora’s only existing tie within the team is Nebula (Karen Gillan). That sisterly bond could be how Gamora is ushered back into the Guardians. Gunn’s story might see Gamora come to care for the team and fall for Star-Lord all over again. Only this time, we’re back onboard with her, not asked to assume years of history that happened between movies.