The Guardians of the Galaxy have been the surprise hit ensemble of the MCU. Ten years ago, nobody was sure if audiences would care for the adventures involving raccoons and trees. Now here we are bidding a fond farewell to the galactic adventures of these unorthodox misfit heroes.
Director James Gunn returns a final time to bring closure to this saga. Having directed every entry, his steady hands have made this series one of Marvel’s best. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 more or less confirms that consistency by delivering a proper send-off for the Guardians, guns and classic rock blazing.
What’s most fascinating about this entry is how much room it gives to lesser-explored characters. In particular, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) takes center stage in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He’s remained somewhat tight-lipped about his origins, and they’re finally explored for all the trauma.
Suffice it to say, those with a soft spot for this character find their heartstrings pulled tight. Rocket not only given more screen time but a complete arc for his character. It’s so well developed that this could easily be called the Rocket Raccoon movie.
Thankfully, Rocket’s past catching up with him plays up the film’s general theme for all the characters. Every member of the Guardians has something they need to get over and realize that family means more than just sticking together. They might’ve saved the galaxy but they also need to save themselves from getting too caught up in this line of work.
For example, Peter (Chris Pratt) needs to let go of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) finally. After having lost her during Infinity War, the version of her that returned in Endgame is not the same Gamora from previous adventures. Since Gamora has moved onto a life with the Ravagers, this is an issue Peter needs to learn to let go of.
Similar problems arise for Nebula (Karen Gillan), the cybernetic sister of Gamora. Going from bitter villain to reluctant hero hasn’t been easy for her. Maybe an adventure with the threat of losing others will warm her cold, robotic heart.
Smarter Than The Average Destroyer
Perhaps the most interesting development of comical characters has been the bond between Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). They’ve been an adorable couple of bold and literal people, missing metaphors and finding silliness in almost everything. The two could easily become the background noise of the dumb comic relief.
Thankfully, they not only have hearts but prove themselves as heroes once more. Having Drax uses his history as a father to quell a species was a brilliant showcase of how there’s more to him. Mantis also shows some agency for her newfound freedom, realizing there are more possibilities when not bound by her previous master, Ego.
An Evil Evolution
The villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a man consumed with creating perfect creatures for the ideal world. He’s one of the more vicious foes for not presenting himself with some stern and fool-hardy approach to utilitarianism. He’s an emotional mess of a person who flies off the handle when he does not get his way.
He’s also a thematically perfect villain for a story involving misfits. As a mad scientist aiming to change imperfections, the oddball Guardians are the perfect counter to his genocidal tendencies. His hordes of deadly experiments perfectly align with the series’ strangeness and the grander aspects of fighting conformity and authoritarianism.
A Crowded Cast
Not all of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 works, partially due to the cropping up of characters. A few get pushed to the wayside and don’t have as developed arcs. Gamora’s joining up with the Ravagers feels like a minuscule development, especially since we only see about as much of their leader (Sylvester Stallone) as we did in the previous movie.
There’s also the supporting villain of Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), a golden warrior with the powers of a god and the mentality of a child. He spends so little time on screen that his mommy issues seem almost inexplicable. Despite all his powers, Adam has to fight for screen time.
It helps that some of the supporting characters have smaller arcs. Kraglin (Sean Gunn) returns to continue the legacy of Yondu by wielding his mohawk and arrow. His banter with the talking dog Cosmo is cute enough, as is his faith in being the protector of the skull-based planet Knowhere.
Same Old Hits
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has much of the same vibe fans have come to expect from the movies. It’s beautifully colorful, wild with alien designs, and has a personality all its own with a handpicked jukebox soundtrack. It has that comical charm but perhaps not as many big laughs as previous movies, where the obligatory cameos by Nathan Fillion and Lloyd Kaufman are more predictable than surprising.
What the film has more of than previous entries is the increased amount of heart. Strange as it may sound, Rocket’s journey is so profound it’s sure to trigger tears in the audience. Few films will make you feel so invested in whether or not a talking tree embraces his raccoon friend once more.
Conclusion: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
This film is a fitting end to the Guardians of the Galaxy saga that has remained a consistent go-to of underdog joy. It helps that Gunn has been at the helm for every film, even when it was looking like he wouldn’t return for this entry. The trilogy is all the better for it, making this one of the best trilogies of the entire MCU.
What did you think of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Was it better than Volume 2? What did you think of the trilogy overall? Let us know in the comments below.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently playing in theaters everywhere.