Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own – a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.
It’s so bizarre when you think about all the time director James Gunn has spent with Marvel Studios, starting nearly a decade ago. He was hired, fired, and rehired, then left the company to work as the co-CEO of DC with the executive who originally fired him (Alan Horn) to begin with. He was still in the middle of finishing his trilogy with Guardians, which seems so unrealistic but it was happening in real time. I began to think Gunn was still bitter about the whole ordeal and wanted to stick it to Marvel and not give 100% effort during post-production. I, as well as many others online, was curious about Gunn’s mindset during his final bout at Marvel. I began to be more excited about that aspect than the actual film itself, and was anticipating this film more than I originally did when it was first announced. So did James Gunn leave Marvel on a positive note, or did he say, “Screw this franchise. I’m done with Marvel and can’t wait to get started with DC?” It feels good to say the answer is the former. Not only is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 a great film, it’s one of the better entries that the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has had in the past few years.
One aspect contributing to Guardian 3’s greatness is what the film is focused on. This team that continues to grow, isn’t focused on the latest alien group trying to take over a large territory or the universe itself. The characters in this team are more specifically focused on themselves and their own personal growth and development. It’s the most selfish plot out of the whole series, but it is also the most significant. Self-care is the top priority for each character in this film, and it should be applauded. Usually, heroes are always sacrificing what’s important to them for the greater good of the population, but that’s not the case here. It’s what the franchise needed in the MCU as of late, because sometimes our internal demons if not checked can be our ultimate downfall outside of any other outside forces. This film was marketed as the last time this particular group of Guardians would be together, and the way this story arc is wrapped up was treated with the utmost amount of tender, love, and care.
Speaking of love, if you love the character Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) then you may love this film. He was already considered one of the favorites out of the bunch given his attitude, obsession with danger, and quick-witted jokes. Now you get to see the origin story of the character and what exactly made him the way he is. You may not have known that you could walk out of a theater caring so much for such a wild creature, but it’s difficult not to once you see what the character had to endure. It’s a sad story that may cause water to flush from your eyes, but It’s heartwarming too. Be warned you may want to go adopt an animal after your viewing from all the heartstrings this film pulls on. Now dealing with animals there is a large amount of animal cruelty during this film, so be warned, but it’s all warranted making the overall plot of this film even more satisfying.
As far as the rest of the cast they all have something important to do. No one is wasted doing mindless activities or having useless dialogue. Whether they appeal to you or not they each serve a purpose. The arc between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Peter Quill aka Starlord (Chris Pratt) was especially a great experience to witness as well. He is still mourning the loss of Gamora from her death in Avengers Endgame (2019), and their banter back and forth is harsh yet hilarious. She’s so cold to him, not knowing their past relationship, while he’s enamored by her presence. You can’t blame the guy, but it’s a harsh reality that the man must move on. You can’t help but sympathize with him, and it’s something that most everyone on the planet had to go through at some point in their life as far as moving on. It shines light on his human side with all the emotions that we’re aware of, and is relatable especially since he’s constantly surrounded by aliens that earthlings consider foreign. The representation of Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) was the best yet from these two characters. Drax finally showed a worthy amount of strength, and most of the jokes between them hit home. Two newer characters who were in the past Guardians films, Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Cosmo (Maria Bakalova), are more prominent now and are great additions to the team. And even Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Groot (Vin Diesel) step up their game as important players in this film as well.
The one character who steals the show from everyone else is The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji)! Having worked with James Gunn in the past for DC’s Peacemaker, it’s obvious why the director wanted to work with him again. It’s definitely a stretch to say that he’s the best villain in the MCU, but for sure he’s one of the best. There can be an argument made that he’s in the top 5 best that the studio has produced. This man is evil for sure and has an interesting approach to what sane individuals would call life. He’s cold-hearted and calculated to the core. He’s not a mad titan trying to conquer the universe, but has a sick twisted way of trying to make it into what he believes is better. What’s also great about him is his devotion to his craft. He’s quite frightening and has a very short temper. He’s also very powerful. He tosses around some of the most dominant players in this universe as if they’re weightless ragdolls. It can be very disturbing at times. In most cases, instead of creating a better world he makes things worse and treats everything and everyone around him like toilet paper you flush down the toilet. It would be fascinating to see his origin story, because once you meet him in this film, you’re bound to be curious about what path he took that lead him here. His makeup and costumes are on point and a great adaptation from the comics, and he is overall a great character.
However, every character can’t be as great as the others, and that’s especially the case when it comes to Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). The casting is perfectly fine, but the execution was lacking big time. Adam Warlock is supposedly a beloved powerful character from the comics, and he was hyped up respectfully in the past Guardian of the Galaxy film, but was nerfed during his debut here. As previously mentioned, Adam Warlock is strong and powerful, but is a complete doofus. Sure, part of the plot tried to address this, but it didn’t work. Why Marvel wanted to make this decision is weird, and the same complaint can be made for one of their last villains, M.O.D.O.K from Ant-man & The Wasp: Quantumania. After a while, he became an afterthought and was such a waste. There were a couple of comedic moments from him that worked well, but that’s not enough. Overall he felt wasted which is extremely disappointing.
Now everything is subjective, and that’s for sure the case when it comes to comedy. Does the comedy in Guardians of the Galaxy work? For the most part, it does. There were a ton of moments during this film that will make audiences laugh out loud without a doubt. James Gunn has a great sense of humor, and that showed during this film. He was able to accomplish this in every Guardians film, especially the first one. However, the jokes during this movie lingered on just a little too long in my opinion. In one instance they’re perfect as the plot is doing two things at once, developing the characters and plot while simultaneously serving jokes to the audience to help flesh out the situation the characters are in. Though sometimes instead of moments progressing naturally, it’s as if James Gunn wanted to stop the flow, and say, “Ok let’s have any extra five minutes of jokes right here!” Why did he do this? Having jokes last extra long can be jarring, and that was the case a numerous amount of times during this film.
Now you can’t talk about a Marvel movie without discussing the action. Another accomplishment this film succeeded in was where the jokes and the comedy were placed. Marvel Studios has always been great for the most part with their jokes and funny moments, but at times they can be placed in the wrong parts of the film, which is during the action. They could have the best superhero comic book moment, but then seconds later the tension is ruined because they want to play funny haha jokey jokey during moments of war, battle, and fighting. Luckily that’s not the case here in the slightest. There were no jokes or funny moments during the action scenes in this film which is fantastic! The Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame) are some of the only directors in Marvel that can pull this off, mixing comedy and serious moments in a way that works. Though it can be difficult, that’s not a problem this time around. The first action scene wasn’t the best during the film, as there was no challenge for the Guardians; but towards the end, it was everything that a fan of this material could ask for. If you wanted to see the Guardians team up and battle some of the universe’s roughest and toughest you’ll get that here. There was one particular scene that appeared to be shot in one take in a corridor or hallway that spoke volumes of awesome and super awesome! It was nothing short of lovely, and diehard and casual fans are sure to love it.
There’s so much to love about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and everyone involved in this production should be proud of themselves, especially James Gunn. Not only did he provide audiences with great characters to love, but a story that’s rich that everyone can relate to as far as growth. It was also a visual spectacle to look at too. The visual effects in this film were remarkable. This was a great way to end this trilogy between the characters, while also leaving you wanting more, and it’s a shame that this may be James Gunn’s last time ever working with Marvel with the large responsibilities he has now. If I had to rank the Guardians films from first to worst in that order it would be volume 1, volume 3, then volume 2. I loved the villain here in volume 3, and hated the villain in volume 1. However, I loved every joke in the first film, while the jokes lingered on too long this time around. Volume 1 wins by such a small margin, and that also relates to the pacing of the films, but it’s a small lead. Overall, it’s a great, warming trilogy.