It’s hard to believe there was a time when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was on the verge of not happening. They pulled through and the time has come to bid farewell to our favorite ragtag group of a-holes. Writer/director James Gunn may be heading to another comic book sandbox, but he’s leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a bang. Not that this is just another tread down Guardians Way mind you. Vol. 3 is every bit as bright, colorful, zany, and hilarious as we expect. Gunn raises the stakes and leaves us wondering how everything will turn out in the end. The Guardians trilogy is capped off magnificently here, marking the end for the best trilogy in the MCU.
We catch up with the Guardians following their Holiday Christmas Special, with Peter (Chris Pratt) falling into a bout of depression and alcoholism. But he’s about to be put to the ultimate test of friendship after Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) comes crashing through their Knowhere HQ, looking for Rocket. Come to find out, the Sovereign have been enlisted by The High Evolutionary (a spectacular Chukwudi Iwuji), who’s been on the hunt for Rocket since he escaped The High Evolutionary’s lab, to bring Rocket back to him. Now, it’s time for the Guardians to face their ultimate test to save Rocket, with all the shenanigans we’ve come to love, along the way.
Vol. 3 is admittedly quite a bit darker and depressing than we’ve come to expect in the MCU, but it’s an oddly refreshing take. All of the backstory and flashbacks involving Rocket may venture into the darkest regions of uncharted MCU territory—anyone who doesn’t find the Batch 89 flashbacks heartbreaking has no soul. This is where Gunn really gets to lay on the feels as Iwuji builds The High Evolutionary to be the monster he is.
The returning cast all get their chance to shine, character arcs are tied up in some surprising bows, another “Awesome Mix” leaves its mark, and most audience members may be reduced to a blubbery mess by the credits. This is no spoiler, Gunn has said since the announcement of Vol. 3 that this will be the final film for his Guardians as we know them, but it’s how that unfolds that matters. be sure to keep an eye out for tons of Marvel character cameos, along with the expected credit stingers, of course.
Some have said Quantumania kicked Phase 5 off to a rocky start, but it’s back on track here, paving the way for the MCU to continue in new, exciting, and surprising directions.