While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has yet to premiere in the United States, Marvel and director James Gunn are already looking ahead to the future of the franchise. With a timeline that is getting more complicated than Fox’s X-Men, some have begun to wonder when a third trip into space with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord will actually take place in relation to other events in the MCU.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed the news that Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk would probably go up against a fully adult Groot, and that Infinity War will unfold some four years after Guardian’s Vol. 2. While there is still plenty of time to slot in a third entry in between taking down Thanos, this clearly isn’t Gunn’s plan.

When asked whether Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would come before the two-part Infinity saga, Gunn tweeted back to confirm the third Guardians film will take place after the next two Avengers films:

@JamesGunn is GOTGV3 going to be a prequel to Infinity wars because V2 was set in 2014?
— Ian's Existenz (@ZeroExistenz) May 1, 2017
No. Vol. 3 will take place AFTER Avengers 3 & 4. https://t.co/5QCiH5fU55
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) May 2, 2017
The big news to take away from this is a pretty impressive time jump between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. and Vol. 3. With Infinity War taking place during the modern day, and Avengers 4 expected to follow suit, fans may need to brace themselves for a more grizzled Star-Lord and co. when Marvel books a return trip on the Milano. It’s already known that the Guardians will be “supporting” characters in the Russo Brothers’ packed Infinity War, while Gunn already said that they will be a more seasoned team when we next see them.

Gunn himself has gone on record saying that Vol.3 will be the last of his three-film arc, but also hasn’t ruled out that he could return for Vol. 4 (if there is one). It is expected that Phase 4 and a Vol. 4 will usher in a new era of the Guardians, and given the last-minute inclusion of Ving Rhames, Michael Rosenbaum, Miley Cyrus, and Michelle Yeoh, could it be an older generation of heroes taking the helm?

It is likely that the Guardians’ run-in with Thanos will drastically alter their dynamic, especially considering Nebula and Gamora’s ties to the Mad Titan. And who knows if all the current team will even make it out of the Avengers films alive.

What we do know is that Vol.3 is likely to stick on another Awesome Mixtape, and no matter what the outcome, make everything better. With Gunn hoping to round off the current story of the Guardians, all bets are off on what the future could hold for our green-skinned, trash panda, and half-celestial friends.

[Screen Rant]