‘Guardians 3’ Is a Needed Step in the Right Direction for Marvel

by Dasun Panapitiya ‘24

After a plethora of movies that have fallen flat within the so-called Phase 4 of its films, Marvel steps it up with James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn’s departure from the Guardians series is bittersweet for many fans, but he caps off his involvement by creating a masterful work of cinema out of a superhero movie. Superhero fans also can look forward to his future work on the new DC universe.

Vol. 3 begins in an unexpected way by introducing a new character, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), flying to the Guardians’ homebase, Knowhere, to abduct Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) for the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), his creator. Warlock is part of the Sovereign, created by the High Evolutionary in his experiments to create the perfect being and was previously teased in the Guardians Vol. 2.

Most of the performances given by both the legacy actors and the newcomers were surprisingly above average for a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Cooper is the highlight of the movie, bringing lots of emotion and depth to his character. Rocket is forced to face his traumatic past, dragging the Guardians on a journey across the galaxy to fight a god-like geneticist and ruler, the High Evolutionary. At its core, the film explores themes of deeply connected friendships and forgiveness that accompany this wild adventure, ultimately creating a worthwhile experience for any type of audience member.

Gunn’s signature trappings shine in this movie, from the iconic soundtrack of pre-existing songs to his trademark humor and action. He also has a pristine ability to create memorably endearing characters. Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) all offer a part in this movie that feels important and impactful despite not being the main focus. In spite of the rewrites to Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) character by the Russo Brothers in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Gunn made the completely new character fit perfectly into his already established world. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is the only character that feels bland, possibly due to Pratt’s subpar acting, a consistent flaw of the Guardians series. Groot (Vin Diesel) remains the loveable and well-recognized mascot of the guardians.

This film proves itself to be one that can both stand alone as a great experience for its audience, and in its outstanding ability to innovatively work with the already established timeline. It represents a comeback for the MCU after a number of disappointing films, including Thor: Love and Thunder and Eternals, and the poor beginning to Phase 5 with the likes of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Gunn maintains his position as a highly regarded MCU director, alongside the previously mentioned Russo Brothers, with this movie having possibly pushed him past that boundary. Fans have regained hope for higher quality MCU movies in the future, and are willing to see what Gunn will offer in his directorial and lead production career in the DC universe.

Grade: B+