guardians of the galaxy vol 3 key issues a satisfying trilogy ending is a rarity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gives it. The Guardians franchise will likely continue in some form, but writer-director James Gunn wraps up this incarnation of the group with the same heart and humor as the previous two while also introducing some unexpected darkness in the form of Rocket’s legitimately unsettling birth tale. It is the reason why this slightly chaotic but nevertheless endearing threequel is such an emotionally rich comic book film.
Since the publication of Vol. 2 in 2017, there have been several changes to the Guardians, including the deaths of the original Gamora and a previous iteration of the character as well as the revelation of Peter Quill and Mantis’ sibling relationship. But Gunn skillfully weaves that tangled web of MCU backstory into a wickedly entertaining yarn. This movie features all the corny speech and humor you would expect, but it has a much more tragic tone, which is a pleasant difference from the second movie where the characters laughed uncontrollably at their own jokes.
It turns out that Rocket never revealed a lot about his history for a good reason. It is revealed in a series of terrifying flashbacks that Rocket was created by a power-crazed super-scientist known as the High Evolutionary and was subjected to horrific abuse. The always-excellent Bradley Cooper peels back the layers of this stern raccoon with a tender performance. Since The Book of Boba Fett was released last year, the manner employed to show us the flashbacks isn’t the most inventive. In addition, it takes Rocket too long away from the action. Nevertheless, the emotional center of this film is a cybernetically enhanced raccoon, and it works.
During the flashbacks, The High Evolutionary makes for a very compelling antagonist.
Chukwudi Iwuji portrays the High Evolutionary with a manic passion and conveys his distorted perspective on perfection with ice-cold cruelty. He is simply embodied animal brutality, which makes him simple to despise. While his goals and worldview are undoubtedly novel for the MCU, his advanced purple armor and blue energy abilities make him resemble Kang the Conqueror, another power-crazed antagonist we recently saw in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The High Evolutionary is a particularly compelling antagonist in the flashbacks because we see him torture Rocket and learn about his misguided quest for perfection, but he is much less menacing in the present because the stakes are never truly at risk.
One significant way that Guardians 3 differs from Quantumania is in the visual effects, which are vibrant and magnificent, from the horrifying cyborg-animal henchman to the squishy and slimy organic space station. Particularly during the jaw-dropping all-in-one-take hallway brawl for the ages, everything feels crunchy, filthy, and real. On the other hand, the depiction of young Rocket and his animal companions is excellent; it is the ideal combination of cartoonishness and reality, with more large, depressing eyes than one can manage.
With vibrant and breathtaking graphic effects, Guardians 3 distinguishes itself from Quantumania.
The High Evolutionary’s particular brand of evil presents delicious themes of expectation and control that go well with the narrative of the Guardians, especially Peter Quill and Gamora. Quill longs for the previous Gamora who had fallen in love with him, but the one standing in front of him seems uninterested in him. Regardless matter what came before, there is a difficult lesson to be learned about trying to change someone into the person you want them to be rather than who they truly are. It was quite enjoyable to watch Zoe Saldana play with such wrath and ferocity, not to mention a withering impatience towards Quill. This version of Gamora is much closer to the merciless assassin bred by Thanos than the noble warrior who initially joined the Guardians. Chris Pratt, on the other hand, accepts the criticism with his customary schmucky sincerity.
It’s frustrating that we didn’t learn anything about Rocket and Groot’s friendship’s beginnings.
The biggest surprise, though, comes from Adam Warlock, who has a very minor role. One might assume that the High Evolutionary, who was hinted to at the end of the previous Guardians film, would be the main antagonist, but Warlock is essentially simply his slave. In the comics, Warlock is a wise and powerful cosmic creature who played a significant role in the Infinity Stones storyline. However, with that story having been wrapped up in the MCU, it seems there wasn’t much left for Warlock to do. It is unfortunate to state that Volume 3 wouldn’t have been significantly different if he hadn’t been in it because he feels like he is only there because of responsibility. The fact that this Warlock is essentially a child in the body of Superman, somewhat like Marvel’s Shazam, is another significant deviation from the comics. And while Will Poulter certainly nails that concept and generates some chuckles, it’s difficult to feel sad that we missed out on a distinctive cosmic figure and have yet another space idiot as a replacement.