Yes, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot will return — as the credits promised — in the summer of 2017.
But with the blockbuster still fresh in our heads, now seems like a good time to lay out what we hope to see in "Guardians of the Galaxy 2."
Not Another Infinity Stone
Four of Marvel Studios' ten movies have been about a bad guy getting possession of an Infinity Stone and the good guys having to stop him. It's time for a new formula. But if "Avengers 3" plays out similarly to "The Infinity Gauntlet," we might not be that lucky. And yet, some of Marvel's best movies have been a result of changing the blueprint. Look at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," for example. There's no MacGuffin. It's a pretty straightforward mystery. With the Guardians already established, a sequel can let the characters, not the story, do most of the work.
The only hint that "Guardians of the Galaxy" gave for where a sequel might go came at the end of the movie, when Yondu revealed that his original mission was to deliver Peter Quill to his absentee father. With Star-Lord Sr. confirmed as an outer space person, the revelation could set-up Star-Lord's comic book father, J'Son, the emperor of Spartax.
There is, however, some evidence that argues that "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" will divert from the comics here. When speaking with Badass Digest, Gunn said that only four people know the identity of Star-Lord's dad, including himself. Since that number doesn't include me and the rest of the comic-reading world, it's relatively safe to assume that J'Son won't be the answer to the puzzle.
More Thanos Action
After two movies of throne smiling, can we get the big purple guy off of his asteroid? I get that when you're playing with a villain as powerful as Mad Titan, you can't handle it lightly. Establishing his power and threat takes time, for sure, but when all he does is sit on a throne, that point isn't really getting across. If Thanos is in line to be the "Avengers 3" villain like everyone assumes he is, he needs to get out there and get his gauntlets dirty before then.
The very best Thanos storylines all have a common thread: Adam Warlock. The keeper of the Soul Gem is essentially the other side of the Thanos coin, and for Marvel to go all-in on the cosmic side of their universe, Adam Warlock is an essential character to that equation.
"But Gamora was in the first 'Guardians of the Galaxy,'" you say. But was she? Of all the central heroes, the adopted daughter of Thanos pulled the short straw when it came to character development. Gamora's emotional arc was most likely a victim of time constraints, but if a follow-up deals more directly with the threat of Thanos, it could also open up the possibilities for the green-skinned assassin and the guilt that seems to haunt her... in that one scene in the prison.
More Marvel Cosmic Weirdness
"Guardians of the Galaxy" went deeper into the cosmic side of Marvel than most fans could have imagined. Not only were there faithful adaptations of characters like Ronan, but we saw a freaking Celestial. There's so many bizarre corners of the universe that a sequel could go, and the success of "Guardians of the Galaxy" proves that audiences can handle some weird sh--.
"Guardians of the Galaxy 2" opens in theaters on July 28, 2017.