MCU: Which ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Hero Is Least Likely to Return?

After years of waiting, James Gunn is finally set to complete his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. The movie will likely be the last featuring the fan-favorite group of outlaws turned heroes. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 doesn’t even have a release date, but it’s never too early to speculate whether its characters have a future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

James Gunn and the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' cast
James Gunn and the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ cast | David M. Benett/WireImage

The ladies of the Guardians probably aren’t going anywhere

The Guardians least likely to disappear from the MCU after their third film are easily the ladies. In some ways, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) feels like a brand-new character. Avengers: Endgame saw the 2014 version of the character — who doesn’t know the Guardians — enter the present day.

Likewise, Nebula (Karen Gillan) has evolved from Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) dutiful daughter to a full-on Avenger. And Gillan seems eager to explore a newly liberated Nebula. Because of their characters’ separate strengths and their sisterly bond, Gamora and Nebula feel tailor-made for A-Force.

The long-rumored project — based on the Marvel comic — would feature an all-female team of heroes. Avengers: Endgame essentially tested out the potential for an A-Force movie. And if it does eventually happen (which seems likely), there’s no way Gamora and Nebula can be left out.

Perhaps the least necessary of the three Guardians women is Mantis (Pom Klementieff). The character didn’t enter until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But it does feel like even Mantis has a lot more room to explore. She could even serve as one of the more light-hearted additions to an A-Force team.

RELATED: A-Force: Should Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel Lead Marvel’s All-Female Avengers Team?

Drax, Groot, and Rocket could stay supporting players but not leads

Every MCU character has a fan base clamoring for a spin-off movie. But most of the Guardians work best as team players. Case in point, Dave Bautista’s Drax is one of the standout heroes. Yet, it’s hard to imagine a world in which he takes center stage. With Bautista’s outspoken attitude over the years, he could easily exit after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

If the MCU does keep Drax around, he and Groot could be reshuffled into the Thor corner of the universe. After all, Thor: Ragnarok brought that series much more in line with the Guardians’ playground anyway. Then again, maybe Marvel will be looking to save the millions it pays Vin Diesel to bring Groot’s limited vocabulary to life.

Wherever Groot goes, Rocket inevitably follows. But discussing whether Bradley Cooper will stay in the MCU to voice him might be a moot point. Fans heavily suspect Gunn plans to kill Rocket off in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Such a conclusion would certainly leave a lasting impact on audiences and give the cynical character a heroic end.

RELATED: Which ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack Is Better: Vol. 1 or Vol. 2?

Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord will probably fade out of the MCU soon afterwards

Instead, the Guardians of the Galaxy character least likely to reappear in subsequent MCU movies is Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord. As the team’s leader, he has always been the focus of Gunn’s trilogy. As such, if Guardians of the Galaxy is any one hero’s story, it’s Star-Lord’s. So saying goodbye to the character’s journey in this trilogy makes a lot of thematic sense

Many fans are also less enthusiastic about Star-Lord after the previous two Avengers movies. The character’s emotional response to learning about Gamora’s death prevented the Avengers from stopping Thanos’ fateful snap in Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, both that movie and Avengers: Endgame consistently poke fun at Star-Lord.

The other, more practical reason Pratt could leave the MCU is the actor’s busy schedule. Thanks to the Jurassic World and Lego Movie series, he already has two other franchises to carry. And as mentioned, Star-Lord’s story could very well be drawing to a close. We’ll find out soon enough or at least whenever Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters.