Hey, I feel inspired to write about another Marvel movie. I kind of dread the thought because of the brand it’s associated with, but I feel it’s a necessary evil this time around. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 just came out and it’s really good. Not a slightly better than the last average Marvel movie type of good, nor is it the only reason I think this is a good movie is because my expectations were six feet under. Guardians 3 is a good movie that you can put on the same level as all those other solid Marvel superhero movies that they used to make about 5 years ago. While I’m not too surprised, the only reason I was a little pumped to see this (besides the very promising trailers) is because it’s a James Gunn movie. He’s here for one last ride in what might possibly be the last big hit for the MCU. (I didn’t want to sound that morbid, but based on what’s to come I honestly can’t see it getting any better than this.)
It’s been a while since that second Guardians movie came out. So long in fact, that it came out the year before I started this website. A basic summary of my thoughts on the two previous Guardians movies is I enjoyed them both equally. They’re a fun time, mostly because of the witty chemistry of the Guardians. Also, because it can be weird and wacky, they have the catchiest soundtrack ever, and they’re pretty good at being quite touching. The only thing that holds them back is they’re a part of the MCU train and they’re restrained by those guidelines, meaning they can’t get too weird and they always boil down to needing to fight some big bad guy at the end in the most mind-numbingly boring way possible. This is why I think James Gunn’s best superhero film is The Suicide Squad, mostly because it’s not held back by those MCU shackles and it’s a movie not catering for children, meaning it can get away with being very gory and curse-wordy. Back to Guardians 3, I feel pretty much the same way about it as I do the previous Guardians movie, but it certainly feels a little different in comparison to those movies.
Guardians 3 is different because most of the movie is about exploring the backstory of one of the members while the rest go on a merry adventure. The other factor is it’s the first movie of this trilogy that requires you to have seen additional material to properly follow the story. You need to watch those two previous Avengers movies to understand why Gamora is a completely different character in this movie. You also need to watch that weird holiday special on Disney+ where the Guardians kidnap Kevin Bacon just so you can learn that two of the Guardians are relatives. (Even I forgot that while watching this.) So people saying that the Guardians movies are a perfect trilogy, I can’t disagree with more, because you can’t call it a perfect trilogy when you are required to watch more than three movies just so the third movie makes sense. So in regards to this trilogy, this is certainly the outlier and it’s one I’m not sure I like more or less than the other two movies. (I’m not even going to bother answering that here as I haven’t seen the first two movies in years.)
What I find most interesting about this movie in comparison to other recent superhero movies is I can’t believe it’s been so long since I actually cared for the characters on any emotional level. I enjoy every single member of the Guardians of the Galaxy to a certain degree, but what they all have in common is they’re all really entertaining and layered. It’s especially impressive since this quality character writing has been consistent since the first Guardians movie, which was almost a decade ago. Yay I love being old! Rocket gets the most attention in this one of course as we finally learn his past as an adorable little talking baby raccoon being experimented on by an insane person. I was surprised by how emotionally gripping it was as I guess I didn’t expect to care for another tragic backstory in a superhero movie, that is as old and tired as the MCU itself. I guess that’s what happens when you’re watching cute things in a James Gunn movie, my brain gets turned into mush because he is so good at making me feel bad whenever someone hurts these wide-eyed creatures. This certainly helped with making the main villain of this movie a little more hateable than most MCU villains. Sure, this guy also wants to destroy the universe like all the others, but this piece of shit is sewing cybernetic limbs onto these adorable little bunny rabbits, otters, and raccoons for his own sick game of making a perfect weird human-animal hybrid planet. (A line too far!) Though he does redeem himself a bit because he takes a page from the book of Ronan, by screaming at the top of his lungs for the majority of his scenes.
The other characters too all get their time to shine on their adventures to places you have seen in the trailers. The Guardians stopping over at Suburbia Dr. Moreau Earth was pretty wild. Sequences like that are really good at emphasising the comedy that comes out of the entire team, as each member gets a moment to shine and even enhance the comedy. A character like Mantis stands out here as she’s a weird green bug lady with wacky powers who can alter people’s moods by whispering in their ears. Who also kind of takes everything literally like Drax, a perfect dynamic, pair any of them up with dead serious moody Nebula and there’s comedy. Speaking of Nebula she is easily the best character in this movie, mostly because of her comedic value. Nebula is great because she just works off well with literally anyone and it’s really funny, especially with the more goofy characters like Mantis or Drax. Even someone like different Gamora who was hard to accept at first, also proves to be really funny and gets some touching moments, especially with Quill. The character writing I’m just very impressed with, I forgot that this could be a thing in a superhero movie.
For new characters, we have The Golden Boy, who is a scary villain with Superman-like powers, but is also the ultimate Mumma’s boy and is played by Will Poulter. A grown British man acting almost like a really small child is such a strange combination, but I love it. Too bad he’s not in the movie enough as it’s easy to forget he’s even there. A waste of comedy potential I say, but I get why you have The High Plastic Surgeonary in the main villain slot because he’s just campy evil, not funny evil. This brings us to my only real problem with the film, that there is clearly a lot thrown into this movie. So much so that if they really wanted all this material to work they should have just split this up over two movies. They heavily advertised this as the final Guardians of the Galaxy movie, though while watching this movie it never really grabbed me as the final outing for the Guardians, until literally the end of the movie where they tell you that they’re ending things here. I say that because it’s not a very cohesive trilogy, this third movie felt like another adventure for the Guardians of the Galaxy, not the grand finale that brings everything together.
For one, Rocket is more of a main character than Quill, whereas the two previous movies were all about Quill. This is also translated with the villain, who felt more like a middle-movie villain, than the last big bad for the Guardians. Don’t even get me started with the interesting plot threads that those Avengers movies brought up that this movie chooses to ignore, like most MCU movies. Different Gamora is the only thing they address, which was pretty much unavoidable, but I got the impression that Gunn was begrudging going along with it because those Avengers movies really messed up with what, I imagine, he had originally planned for her. He clearly had a lot of let over ideas for future Guardians movies, which he just wanted to quickly glue together from one final banger movie, regardless of if it really works for the story, as they all packed up their gear and bolted out that MCU door. It also didn’t help that it clearly wasn’t the end as the film even teases that it’s not quite over yet for some of your favourite Guardians who still want to be in MCU projects. (I’m so sick of that trend in this universe.) I think this might be an unpopular opinion, as while the ending isn’t the worst way to end a supposed trilogy, how it was executed just felt a little jarring to me.
To wrap up this post, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is something from the MCU that I can easily recommend to anyone who is interested. Seeing that this is the time of putting a bookend on things and moving on to something else, I think I might stop reviewing MCU stuff altogether. As I stated in the past it’s not very interesting to write reviews on these movies anymore nor fun to write about. This one last great hoorah is the perfect finale for me and I’d rather end it here than on another mediocre low. Unless they get their act together, then I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.