Just months after the Guardians of the Galaxy team made their final stand against the High Evolutionary, a new squad will seemingly take over by next year.
The Guardians of the Galaxy first blasted into the live-action Marvel universe in Phase Two’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Director James Gunn returned for two more installments in the series, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and, most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023).
It took a while for Gunn to step back into the Marvel Studios world and helm the third movie; he was fired by The Walt Disney Company and Marvel’s Kevin Feige shortly after Flight. 2 was released following controversial social media posts resurfacing online. But return he did, with his emotional Phase Five movie keeping the franchise buoyant in a time of growing uncertainty and superhero fatigue.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 saw the return of the fan-favorite squad, consisting of Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn).
The third outing for the Guardians of the Galaxy team saw the gang go on a mission to save Rocket’s life, leading them to discover truths about themselves and ultimately disband. The mid-credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 saw a new squad assembled, led by Rocket, and featuring Groot, Kraglin, Phylla-Vell (Kai Zen), Cosmo the Spacedog (Maria Bakalova), and Adam Warlock (Will Poulter).
But now it seems that the Guardians of the Galaxy team has been replaced again, as new information comes to light about an upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe project that sees Nebula step back into the franchise.
Karen Gillan’s Nebula, at first a villain following the trajectory set by her father Thanos (Josh Brolin), has gone on to become one of the franchise’s most beloved and interesting characters. Alongside her appearances in Gunn’s three Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Gillan also starred in the Russo Brothers’ Infinity Saga finale, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), as well as in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), and the Marvel Special Presentation, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022).
Sometime in the near future, Nebula will return in the second season of What If…?but this may or may not be without Karen Gillan.
What If…? is the MCU’s first official animated series, created by AC Bradley and directed by Bryan Andrews. Asking what would happen if iconic events in the MCU had happened differently, What If…? brought the Multiverse to fans week after week. From Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) taking the super-serum instead of Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton in What If…?) and becoming Captain Carter to the arrival of the Marvel Zombies to even the Black Panther T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) being Star-Lord, What If…? explored the facets of the Multiverse that the Loki TV show opened up just weeks previously.
And while Season 1 was relatively well-received, Season 2 is yet to debut on Disney+. At once tapped to release in “Early 2023,” What If…? has been delayed time and time again and is expected to drop sometime in 2024. A recent leak of the episode titles shared what fans can expect; these include:
- “Episode 201: What If…Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?”
- “Episode 202: What If… Peter Quill Attacked Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?”
- “Episode 203: What If… Kahhori Reshaped the World?”
- “Episode 204: What If…Hela found the Ten Rings?”
- “Episode 205: What If… lron Man Crashed into the Grandmaster?”
- “Episode 206: What If…Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?”
- “Episode 208: What If…Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?”
- “Episode 209: What If…The Avengers Assembled in 1602?”
- “Episode 210: What If…Strange Supreme Intervened?”
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There has yet to be an official confirmation of the episode titles, but this feels pretty solid considering other rumors and leaks that have surfaced over the last two years. We know, for example, that the missing Iron Man (Mick Wingert in What If…?) and Gamora (Cynthia McWilliams in What If…?) episode will feature in the sophomore season.
Now, more information has come to light over the suspected premiere episode of Season 2 — “What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?”
“While specific story details haven’t been shared, a prominent leaker has revealed this installment was originally produced for the animated TV show’s third season before it was folded into the second,” Comic Book Movie reports. Also of note is that this alternate universe where Nebula joins the Nova Corps — that is, instead of the Guardians of the Galaxy — features a whole new team. And a surprising team at that.
According to the report, Nebula will be joined by Korg, Miek, Nova Prime, Yon-Rogg, and Howard the Duck. In the live-action world, these characters were played by Taika Waititi (Korg), Stephen Murdoch/Carly Rees (Miek), Glenn Close (Nova Prime), Jude Law (Yon-Rogg), and Seth Green (Howard the Duck) . This Guardians of the Galaxy team replacement would make it one of the most unusual in the MCU thus far.
What is also interesting is that this world of Nebula attending the Nova Corps could exist in the same Multiversal Universe as T’Challa’s Star-Lord, further establishing the Guardians of the Galaxy link.
Chris Pratt was not present in What If…? Season 1, with Peter Quill being portrayed by Brian T. Delaney. Now, his seeming lack of appearance in Season 2 further displays how Marvel is replacing the actor with other actors and situations. That being said, it was confirmed that Star-Lord would return in the live-action MCU in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Even with high-profile appearances in the MCU, the Jurassic World franchise, The Tomorrow War (2022), and The Super Mario Bros. movie (2023), Pratt has teetered on the edge of being canceled for a while, and some certainly have stopped support of the Hollywood star.
Pratt allegedly attends the Zoe Church in Los Angeles, an establishment affiliated with the Hillsong Church, and has been criticized by some as having anti-LGBTQ beliefs. Pratt has always denied the claims, with James Gunn lashing out at those who demanded for Marvel to recast the actor as Star-Lord.
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At least for the time being, the near future will feature a Guardians of the Galaxy team without Chris Pratt, and it is unclear just how long his removal will be for.
What do you think of this new Guardians of the Galaxy team? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!