Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the best Marvel movie since Endgame

Says that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the best Marvel movie since Avengers: Endgame feels like a charged statement. Maybe one that should come with multiple asterisks.

Since endgameMarvel’s slate has included some unusually mediocre films like Thor: Love and Thunder And Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Spider-Man: No Way Home is fantastic, but it’s seen as a collaboration between Sony and Marvel. The studio has also released some extreme stinkers into the wild, such as eternal And Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. All of this has led to the feeling that Marvel is stuck in a relative rut.

If I say that Guardians Vol 3 is the best Marvel movie since endgamebut I mean it as a real compliment: the movie is great, and not just the best house on a bad block.

The finale by director James Gunn Guardian Kapitel rips and roars with the confidence and emotion that nine years and multiple films bring with this gang of space underdogs. All of this is accomplished by happily ignoring Marvel’s awesome design.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 is about picking up the pieces and evil of eugenics

The third Guardians film, the first since 2017 volume 2, begins to rebuild. That’s the only option when half of the living things in the universe were zapped away in 2018 Infinite War only to come back after five years in 2019 endgame. Marvel’s various films and Disney+ shows have approached “the snap” and “the snapback” in their own unique ways, giving us insights into how people in the MCU have dealt with the blip. Clint Barton found an apprentice; Wanda Maximoff has dabbled far too much with demonic paraphernalia; Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson became brothers and Wilson became Captain America.

The Guardians, who briefly appeared in the surprisingly gloomy Thor: Love and Thunder, have begun setting up headquarters on Knowhere – introduced in the first film, Knowhere is the celestial being’s massive, cosmic skull that was mined for organic material and then became a seedy intergalactic outpost. After Thanos was defeated and billions of beings were torn between existences, Nebula (Karen Gillan), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Drax (Dave Bautista) create a home for everyone who needs one.

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It’s a full-circle moment for the Guardians, who began this trilogy as individuals, homeless and alone. In each other, this cybernetic assassin, the talking tree, the genius-intellected raccoon, the insectoid empath, and the highly literal destroyer have found family. And together, they’ve made it their mission to provide a place of solace and relief for fellow space crazies, just as this makeshift family has done for itself.

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is the focus of the third Guardians film.

Marvel Studios

The two names noticeably missing from this remodeling project are Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Star-Lord is physically with the Guardians on Knowhere, but emotionally he’s in a wasteland. He mourns Gamora who died inside Infinite War and the currently living time shifter who came back endgame. This new Gamora is not the one he loved and she is nowhere to be found. Quill drinks to numb the pain.

However, Star-Lord’s drinking and depression aren’t the main villain of the story. The Great Evil is the entity known as the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a powerful mad scientist who studies cosmic eugenics. The High E genetically tinkers with all manner of creatures – walruses, otters, orphans – and possesses a grand vision of creating a perfect utopia. Each time these utopias fail, the High Evolutionary starts over and kills all of his creations. He sees this as a kind of mercy for his imperfect creations.

It turns out Rocket and the High Evolutionary have a connection, and for some nefarious reason, the High E now wants Rocket back. The bounty hunt for Rocket also brings an overpowered Himbo named Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) into the fray.

And as those bits start to take hold, the third film unfolds as part Rocket origin story and part heist. The Guardians are on their way to rescue their furry friend.

How will Team Rocket save in this infinite universe? Well, without giving too much away, in a galaxy where everyone is so insignificant, nothing is more powerful than family. It’s not always perfect and sometimes it hurts, but whether it’s the one you’re born into or the one you find, family is the only thing that saves us in this cold, vast vastness.

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Thank god this isn’t the multiverse

As sugary and cheesy as this all sounds, it’s worth mentioning Guardians Vol 3 is a Marvel film. Marvel’s movies and the comics they’re based on aren’t actually all that abstract, at least not at their best. Marvel’s characters were created to tell stories of friendship and kindness, and to teach children how to get along better with one another. Gunn hasn’t shied away from it since the first time Guardian film in 2014, and now the new film still chronicles these characters and the bonds they share nine years later.

This isn’t just Gunn’s last Guardian movie, it’s his last for Marvel. He has been named co-chairman and CEO of Warner Bros, making him the DCU version of Marvel’s Kevin Feige. It’s not too difficult to see why DC wanted to give him the reins; be Guardian Franchise is incredibly popular.

This popularity has given Gunn more freedom than other directors in the Marvel system. You can see this latitude in the way he plays with visual elements.

In this film we get genetically engineered, insanely loveable otters and walruses, a villain whose transplanted skin is stretched gossamer over his robot mods, aliens munching on spiked rodent street food, and a fleshy pink planet that’s intentionally sphincter-like. The film’s aesthetic often degenerates into incredibly gritty and gooey, which is a conscious choice every time. There’s a thoughtfulness to the physics, weight, and size of each scene. The fight sequences, bright and bold, are choreographed with the same philosophy.

This is a planetary outpost where the Wardens (in space suits) land. It’s supposed to be meaty and gross.

Marvel Studios

There is no mistake Guardian for any other Marvel franchise.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumaniawhich came out earlier this year, and Guardians Vol 3 take place in essentially the same setting: a strange alien world that doesn’t look like Earth. Even so, they look drastically different (pejorative). Quantumania‘s visuals had no defining qualities; they were aggressively generic. And because of the way it was shot, I’m not even sure if any of the film’s actors were ever in the same room at the same time. If Quantumania looked half as good as Guardianwould it not have been as terrible as it was.

More importantly, however, Gunn’s freedom also offers itself Guardians Vol 3 the benefit of not being tied to the MCU multiverse.

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The multiverse as established in MCU projects as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Quantumaniaand the Loki The Disney+ series is a concept derived from quantum physics, in which there are infinite parallel worlds containing parallel versions of ourselves. For the MCU, that means endless versions of our superheroes and supervillains.

Now imagine the burden of spelling out that idea every time.

Marvel itself doesn’t even conform to the Multiverse rules. They seem to change from project to project – for example in No way home, Spider-Man is played by several actors; In Multiverse of Madness, all Doctors Strange are played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The studio also has to deal with an off-screen controversy: Jonathan Majors, who was arrested on domestic violence charges in March, is playing multiple versions of villain Kang.

The timeline of the MCU itself is also extremely confusing.

Loki states that there is an entire agency that selects parallel timelines, and by the end of the series, Loki himself plays a role in their downfall, causing all of these alternate universes to appear out of nowhere. It is unclear how these events related to happened Multiverse of Madness, which establishes this multiple-universe theory as something Wanda Maximoff and Doctor Strange seem to know about (despite no interactions with Loki). We also don’t know when the events of these two projects play a role Quantumania‘s timeline. The Multiverse is intended to tie this next series of Marvel films together as a continuous line, but Marvel hasn’t done a good job of explaining how.

Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova), a good dog.

Marvel Studios

Aside from the time-displaced Gamora, who dismisses the entire film as random time travel, Guardians Vol 3 has no interest in the multiverse. It’s much better for that.

Instead of digging deep into the (variable) scientific weeds, the Guardians are allowed to live together in this world. This often results in these sardonic, literal, naïve and brash characters bouncing off each other to comedic effect. But in this part, Gunn pushes his cast into darker territory, toying with the idea that if found families help us all grow and heal, what happens when you grow enough to be on your own? What if you’re brave enough to find your own adventure? And how does this farewell feel?

It turns out that answering these questions makes for a pretty awesome Marvel movie.

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