Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is not just an excellent science-fiction movie in its own right, it’s also one of the most important Marvel movies of the last four years. It’s a much-needed reminder that when the MCU is firing on all cylinders, it offers a seriously fun time.
Over the past years, I’ve seriously struggled with a growing sense of Marvel fatigue. Earlier this year, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania felt like another low for the inter-connected comic book universe, but Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the redemption this series desperately needed. I’m genuinely thrilled to be speaking positively about a Marvel property once again.
Of course, a single movie cannot fix all the issues that have plagued the MCU for years, but it does mostly avoid the recent special effects problems. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the Marvel movie that reminds me to stick through the rough patches because the highs are worth it (and we think we know when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits Disney Plus).
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is awesome
Even since they exploded onto cinema screens in 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy have been some of the MCU’s most beloved characters. Thankfully, this will continue in their third volume, an outing with real confidence.
The movie gets plenty of mileage from bringing together this ragtag group for another cosmic quest, and the interplay between the Guardians is as strong as ever. The dynamic between Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) in particular is excellent. However, what impressed me most about Guardians 3 is its commitment to not erasing the universe-alternating events of Avengers: Endgame.
Director James Gunn has made no secret of the fact that some decisions were made in the last two Avengers movies that he wasn’t pleased with, but he doesn’t retcon anything here. For example, the original Gamora is still dead, and in her place is a variant version of the character brought forward from the past. And as the movie opens Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is not handling the loss of his former lover well.
Recent Marvel movies have seemed afraid to commit, but Guardians 3 doesn’t have that problem. This is not a story where the events that came before are quickly erased to get all the main players back on the same page.
This latest and likely last Guardians of the Galaxy movie highlights the advantage of a connected franchise, and it’s been a hot minute since a Marvel project did that for me.
I’m also a huge fan of the decision to delve deeper into the past of Rocket (expertly voiced as always by Bradley Cooper). He’s really the main character of the film and is linked to the film’s excellent villain The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) via a tragic backstory.
Iwuji also deserves praise for creating one of the most memorable MCU villains on screen. Plus, it’s always refreshing to have a Marvel foe whose goal isn’t world domination or destruction. They’re pretty rare.
Credit to James Gunn
Naturally, writer-director James Gunn earns a huge amount of credit for the success of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. And since this is to be his Marvel swansong as he’s taken up a role leading the DC Universe, he’s gone out on a real high.
I’ve criticized the MCU in the past for sticking too rigidly to a cookie-cutter template, and while Guardians 3 definitely doesn't stray too far from the well-established formula, it does at least feel like a movie made by a director with an individual vision. Mercifully, the suffocatingly bland quality that permeated Ant-Man 3 is not present.
I won’t spoil things here but Guardians 3 also features one of the most deliriously entertaining scenes in the entire MCU to date. You’ll know it when you see it, and it’s worth the price of admission alone. Plus, it contains the MCU's first f-bomb, which hits during a gag that had the whole audience in my theatre in stitches. And that's just one of a number of comedic sequences that land right on the mark.
Will Guardians Vol. 3 be an aberration for the MCU?
One of the biggest compliments I can give Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is it's the first MCU movie that I cannot wait to rewatch on Disney Plus since Shang-Chi. Heck, I enjoyed it so much, there’s a strong possibility that I may pay to see it again in theaters if only to see that scene on the big screen one more time.
However, despite my love for the latest Guardians adventure, I’m definitely not fully back in the Marvel fold just yet. I’m not discounting the possibility that this could be a false dawn and the MCU may slip back into old habits in the months ahead. I’m cautiously optimistic this could be the start of a redemption arc, but I’m certainly not banking on it.
Fortunately, the first trailer for The Marvels was released last month and it looks like a seriously fun time, and even the next Marvel TV show scheduled to hit Disney Plus, Secret Invasion, has caught my eye with its trailer hinting at a refreshing tone. Fingers crossed these upcoming projects clear the same quality bar as Guardians of the Galaxy 3 because then my Marvel fatigue may truly become a distant memory.