Just like that, we’ve come closer to summer, and what better way to kick it off than with arguably the best Marvel film I’ve ever seen? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has now been released worldwide and the impending word of mouth is set to start this campaign on fire. James Gunn has delivered not just an amazing trilogy, but the best entry out of the three as well.
[Warning: Major spoilers from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are below!]
Family is at the center of this Marvel Studios film
There are so many things to hone in on with this movie, but at the end of the day, we are all here for one thing – family. As of now, we’ve never really seen the Guardians this disjointed. Peter (Chris Pratt) is a stumbling drunkard, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) is reverting to her past self in being cold toward others. Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) have a strict codependency with each other that is beautifully explored throughout the movie. Groot (Vin Diesel) is Groot, and here we come to the most important part member of it all – Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Of course, there are no Guardians without its last member Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
The trilogy was arguably always about Peter’s story and it definitely stays that way, but much of it is spent with Rocket, and rightfully so.
It’s a testament to Gunn’s abilities in storytelling that he can make an audience care so much about a talking raccoon. Something that stayed with me profoundly was the revelations that I had while seated. Thinking back to the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket says something to the effect of everyone having faced loss. But he delivers it so coarsely that it’s easily mistaken as being dismissive of the other’s feelings. Another thing that came to me was recalling Rocket’s reactions in Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos (Josh Brolin) won and Groot got dusted away.
In The Cosmic Circle‘s pre-release podcast that I recorded with fellow writers Ayla and Brian, they both alerted me to the fact that Groot was calling out “Father” to Rocket. Then there is the moment when he sees his first family, composed of the other test subjects all killed in front of him (Lylla the Otter, voiced by Linda Cardellini, Asim Chaudry as Teefs the Walrus, Mikaela Hoover as Floor the Rabbit). Rocket cries out for his loss and the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) mocks him. That’s when it all hit me at once, that Rocket has faced a major loss for a second time and it’s what has inspired him to take care of his new family, the frickin’ Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, while this is still very much a story of Peter and the rest, it was an invigorating reset to spend so much time with Rocket on his journey and past.
Gamora and Peter in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
On the topic of journeys, there’s the other grandstanding thread of Gamora reappearing in Peter’s life, but not the one we the audience, or Peter grew to love. I found it rather sensational that Gamora’s reintroduction since her ‘resurrection’ in Avengers: Endgame was via the Ravagers assisting the Guardians with infiltrating Orgocorp.
Obviously, the pain of losing ‘his’ Gamora was strongly manifested within Peter since he was drunk when Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) attacked Knowhere and gravely injured Rocket. The pain was compounded when Peter’s failure to keep Rocket safe led to the team-up with Gamora, and she can’t even remember his name.
“Quinn” instead of Quill she calls him, and his constant reminders of who his Gamora “was” that ends up aggravating her equally. The back and forth throughout the adventures were very emotionally charged, it’s apparent that Gamora feels this weight repeatedly thrown at her. It’s frustrating for Gamora and Peter is shifting his grief about losing her onto her, which admittedly she does not deserve.
Gamora’s reunion with the Ravagers at the end where she prompts Peter if “they were fun” as a couple, and his admission, was a brilliant ending for now. It was inspiring to see him earn her admiration even if unintentional, through the sheer acts of saving his friends repeatedly. Gamora’s initial animosity about the entire Guardians unit made it hard to believe that she would soften up, as she was even reluctant about joining the squad for the final encounter with the High Evolutionary.
Mantis, Drax, Nebula, Groot, and Cosmo
Gamora’s death had an impact on the entire team, not just Peter but it’s not explored nearly as much. Still there remained other avenues explored that were equally interesting. The nature of Mantis’ relationship with others was particularly of note, it was pleasing for her to come to terms with herself as she had lived a subservient life throughout the ending. Drax having to let go of Mantis was tough to sit through but was eased immediately when he came to accept his role as a father to the now liberated children from High Evolutionary.
Seeing Nebula’s reaction to realizing that Rocket was alive was moving. Her disposition and anger toward the others felt uncalled for, but with how fractured the team was, there is a level of understanding to be had there. Groot is consistent with the past versions of himself, and this time shows a lot more proficiency with firearms which was impressive.
While not nearly as present, I have to give kudos to Maria Bakalova as Cosmo and her running joke with Sean Gunn’s Kraglin. The payoff during the final battle will stick with audiences for a while.
The High Evolutionary
Out of all of the villains since Thanos, Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary easily has the be the most terrifying one yet. I maintain that it’s not always about being physically menacing, it’s the psyche behind that should be the truly scary part. My jaw dropped when I realized that his undocking from Counter-Earth would result in the absolute destruction of the planet. It was even his decision in doing so that got to me, it was the lack of hesitation to waste that much life and start over and over.
He has a horrifying moment when he’s showing a younger Rocket some progress in his next experiments but they grow far too aggressively. After the demonstration, he torches the subject without any remorse or even recoiling. The High Evolutionary’s purpose and cruelty manage to rub off on his henchman Theel (Nico Santos). What was so fascinating was the High Evolutionary’s obsession with locating and securing Rocket, clearly one of his greatest creations.
Visuals and music in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Gunn has put together a visual buffet of scenes throughout it all. Although Knowhere is the same hunk of metal floating in space, OrgoCorp, Counter-Earth, and the High Evolutionary’s ship are all treats for viewers.
As always, Gunn has graced us with his riveting soundtrack choices with a few more contemporary singles – Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” being an immediate heart-wrenching standout. My personal musical pick was Spacehog’s “In the Meantime” as the squad leapt through space in colorful spacesuits to infiltrate the living organism base OrgoCorp.
This was followed by two very fun cameos – Nathan Fillion as the leader of the OrgoCorp Sentries and Gunn’s wife Jennifer Holland as Kwol, an administrator in the same building. I was very delighted and surprised to see Michael Rooker’s Yondu making a fast appearance and motivating Kraglin.
The only lackluster bit of the entire film for me would have to be the score, although from my understanding it was a scheduling issue that led them to not get John Murphy to close out the trilogy. Even then Tyler Bates manages to put forth a good effort, I had just wished the Guardians theme could have been used differently for a greater impact and found it odd that it was used twice in a 2-hour 20-minute release.
The future of the Guardians of the Galaxy
The film ends with Rocket taking over the team and a restructuring composed of Groot, Phyla (Kai Zen), Groot, Cosmo, Kraglin, and Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). It’s an exciting next step to determine when our Guardians come back to us, sadly without Gunn’s involvement as he now helms DC Studios.
The post-credits scene gives us the reunion of Peter with his grandfather (Gregg Henry) and a title card that states, “The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return”. Even with Gamora, Mantis, and Peter’s departures, I’m thrilled to see the door remaining open, there could be future threats that will require assistance amongst other MCU projects.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently in theaters! Have you watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 yet? What did you think? Let us know on Twitter, other social media, or The Cosmic Circus Discord! And if you haven’t already, check out our Cosmic Circle episode dedicated to the road to Vol. 3!