Once more with the feeling.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a 2023 superhero film directed by James Gunn, written by James Gunn, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is based off of various Guardians of the Galaxy comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana. This is the 42nd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the 32nd film. It acts as the 18th entry in the Multiverse Saga and the second film in Phase Five. It is also the fourth entry and third film in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. It was preceded by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Avengers: Endgame, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. It will be followed by Secret Invasion and The Marvels.
"I want you all to know that I am grateful to fight beside my friends." - Drax
Led by a broken Star-Lord who is still grieving the loss of Gamora, the Guardians of the Galaxy face their biggest threat yet when Rocket's creator comes back into the picture.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. is finally it.
While I loved Spider-Man: No Way Home, this movie is what I want from the MCU. It's a fantastic film that has the heart, emotions, action, and humor you want from an MCU movie. There isn't terrible CGI and noticeable green screens. There aren't idiotic jokes undercutting the drama. There aren't fifteen easter eggs and plot threads to set up the next two movies and a Disney+ show. This movie feels like an Infinity Saga film, and that is something I have desperately missed from Marvel. It hopefully points to them turning it around over the next few films.
And the characters are easily the best thing about Guardians 3. This movie feels much more like an ensemble movie than the previous two. In the previous two, Star-Lord is clearly our main hero with all of the other characters being great secondary heroes. Here, that isn't really the case. All of our main Guardians get their time to shine. Every single one of them has a great arc. They all have great moments of payoff that have been setup throughout the movie or even throughout the entire trilogy. Their dynamic with each other can be so heartfelt while also being heart-breaking at the same time. This is the best James Gunn has done with these characters. He sends them off in spectacular fashion.
And, of course, I have to point out Rocket's backstory specifically. Gunn has hinted at Rocket's origins throughout the previous two Guardians films, but Rocket won't ever talk about it. We finally learn where he came from here, and it is devastating. It's some of the darkest and most upsetting stuff that the MCU has ever given us, but it really reframes Rocket Raccoon's character as a whole and gives him a very satisfying arc that has been built up through all of his appearances. Every time it cuts to his backstory, you just want to cry. It's so sad.
And, beyond Rocket's backstory, this movie is very emotional. Not since Endgame has a Marvel movie hit the emotional beats that Guardians 3 hits. There will be tears of sadness. There will be tears of anger. There will be tears of happiness. It goes across the entire spectrum of emotions, and that just makes it resonate with the audience more. The emotion of the movie is a piece of the MCU that has been missing in the Multiverse Saga, and I was so glad to see it back here.
The movie also has an incredible sense of urgency and danger throughout. The story kicks off extremely fast, and, as soon as the inciting action hits, you feel that none of our characters are safe. You feel like anyone can go at any time. It makes you more invested in this story and these characters. High stakes often make for a better movie, and Guardians 3 is a prime example of that.
This movie sticks the landing. If there is one thing that the MCU has always been great at, it's sticking landings to the most important event movies. Civil War was great. Infinity War and Endgame were great. No Way Home was great. And Guardians 3 is great. It serves as a poignant, beautiful send-off to these weird, lovable misfits that have a special place in everyone's heart. The ending makes sense and feels like the natural conclusion of these characters, but it also feels like we could see them again in Kang Dynasty or Secret Wars. So it works.
There are a few things that don't entirely work here.
First off, Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary are not fantastic villains. Adam Warlock is a great character from the comics, and he feels like a bit of an afterthought in this movie. He's played to be kind of an idiot and, while he does have an arc, it doesn't really feel earned. The High Evolutionary isn't a horrible villain, but he does feel generic. He just seems like a screaming, mustache-twirling maniac at times throughout the movie, so I wasn't really invested in him. I loved how much I hated him, but beyond that, there wasn't much there.
I also feel like this movie has a few moments that are supposed to be big and epic but fall somewhat flat. I'd say that this is the most ambitious and highest stakes film in the Guardians franchise, and there's some points where that ambition doesn't quite pay off. In the finale, there's a certain thing that happens that seems like it should be this big, awesome moment, but it isn't. I just think some of these things are better in idea than in execution.
My final thing here is Gamora. While I do like what they did with her character, I'm not sure that they should've ever done it in the first place. I don't know if her character in this movie was worth bringing her back to life. They do give her an arc and it is satisfying, but I just think it felt weird because she had such a great, tragic death and they should've kept it like that.
Final Thoughts and Score
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the first time in a while that I've walked out of the theater and been truly excited about what I just saw from the MCU. I loved this film.
I will go Sweet here. Age range is 12+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"
Fun Factor: 9/10 Acting: 8/10
Directed by James Gunn
Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, language, frightening themes and images, thematic elements
Released on May 5, 2023
2 hours and 30 minutes
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Vin Diesel as Groot
Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary
Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri
Will Poulter as Adam Warlock
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Maria Bakalova as Cosmo the Spacedog
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord
Linda Cardellini as Lylla
Asim Chaudry as Teefs
Mikaela Hoover as Floor