The Guardians of the Galaxy have had us hooked on a feeling back when they made their cinematic debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2014. Though they may have been at the bottom of the barrel in the original comics' pantheon at one point, they have since become one of the most popular and well-known teams thanks to their unexpected and explosive success with the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. Their Awesome Mix is is to end with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
But the road to get to the third film has been long and winding. This band of well-meaning intergalactic misfits have made a few substantial appearances in movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having played major roles in two of the major crossover films in the franchise's history. The ramifications of those films even spill over to the events of Vol. 3.
If you need to catch up on Guardians lore before their final act, here's all the films you should watch before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
'Guardians of the Galaxy' (2014)
The awesome all started in the first Guardians movie. In their debut, space-faring scavenger Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) runs into assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), and alien warrior Drax. Their individual journeys lead them on the pursuit of the Power Stone, where they stumble into the crossfire of an intergalactic war instigated by the Kree who are led by Ronan the Destroyer (Lee Pace) and assisted by Gamora's sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan).
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' (2017)
Having become a ragtag group of bounty hunters, the Guardians (including a Baby Groot) face off against Star-Lord's father Ego (Kurt Russell), a matter-manipulating Celestial who inhabits the body of a planet. As they reconnect, Drax begins to bond with Ego's alien empath Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who warns that Ego's intentions to reunite with Peter are not what they seem.
Meanwhile, Nebula seeks revenge against Gamora for her disgrace against the Kree, but the two of them begin to reconcile.
'Avengers: Infinity War' (2018)
The Guardians play a major role in Infinity War as they face off against Thanos (Josh Brolin), an intergalactic conqueror and Gamora and Nebula's adoptive father. In the film, Gamora is sacrificed on Thanos' quest for the Infinity Stones and the remaining Guardians inadvertently team up with different Avengers to try and put a stop from his plan to erase half of the population in the universe. Due to Star-Lord's anger over Gamora's death, however, their efforts are for naught.
'Avengers: Endgame' (2019)
With all but two of the Guardians having been snapped out of existence by Thanos, Rocket and Nebula join forces with the remaining Avengers. They soon join them on their time travel heist to retrieve the Infinity Stones from across time in order to undo the damage done by Thanos. The Guardians are eventually revived and join the fight against Thanos, with a Gamora from an alternate timeline eventually getting stranded in this one.
'The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special'
While not overtly necessary for understanding the lore behind the Guardians, the Holiday Special is an entertaining footnote in the Guardians' escapades. In this streaming special, Drax and Mantis attempt to cheer up Peter as he copes with both holiday depression and the alternate Gamora having gone missing. To that end, the two of them head to Earth to try and kidnap Peter's childhood hero Kevin Bacon as a Christmas present.
Supplementary viewing: 'I Am Groot'
In another sort-of-canon but not-too-important installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, this animated miniseries follows Baby Groot as he stumbles into all sorts of antics. With five six-minute episodes, this tiny anthology should be quick and easy to get through for anyone who wants a gold star for watching all of the Guardians-related MCU content.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes out in theaters on May 5.