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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 brings an epic saga to a heartwarming and poignant conclusion. In the saga of the MCU, this team has clearly compelled fans since its introduction. Now, at a crossroads, their third entry sets up future stories as well as opens the door for a satisfying conclusion that everyone here deserves. As a whole, this project is surprisingly emotionally focused. This could very well be the strongest project that Marvel has released since Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It makes sense to begin with the emotional core of the story, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). This story has been a long time coming. Each time this character has had an outing within the MCU, he has shown hints of having an emotional depth that he’s kept concealed. It’s nothing less than devastating to delve into the reason this character has such strong protective layers built around his heart and spirit. This story could have so easily devolved into trauma porn. Instead, following Rocket through his past and present makes him that much easier to empathize with on a human level.
Relatedly, this movie does well to sideline Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). While Star-Lord is meant to be the leader of the group, he demonstrates time and again that he is by far the weakest link in this crew. Even here, his uselessness makes it easier to appreciate everyone around him. He provides a venue for the crew to show off their strengths when it comes to protecting him from himself. His place is perhaps on Earth, spending his days hanging out and reconnecting with his grandfather. This way, he would be out of everyone’s way.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the perfect opportunity for this writer to acknowledge that this has not been my favorite Marvel team. However, this entry manages to distil everything that they can be at their best as an ensemble. The way that the Guardians come together is thrilling to watch as they each tap into their individual strengths to support one another. They truly have become a family in the course of traversing the galaxy and getting into all sorts of chaotic shenanigans.
The relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Peter is one of the most endearing parts of this story. It would have been too easy to show them basically picking up where they left off in another part of the multiverse. It’s clear, however, that they have both been through far too much and are living two completely different realities. Theirs is an example of a relationship that had its day. However, it’s time for both of them to move on to new adventures. While it may be sad that this no longer involves each other, the possibilities are virtually endless for each of them.
Nebula (Karen Gillan) is the underrated MVP of this saga. Who could have predicted that a pseudo-robot could have so much emotional depth and be the core of this galaxy-saving team? This is a trick question, of course, as any Doctor Who fan knows the truth about the force of nature that is Gillan. This aside, this character has probably come the furthest since her introduction. Watching her on the path to a bright new future is so incredibly heartwarming.
Finally, the villain in this story, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), had the potential to be among the most vile and compelling Marvel villains. While he may currently be regulated to the ash heap of Marvel villains, it’s not beyond belief to figure that he may make another appearance in a future saga. In every way, the High Evolutionary is what Thanos wanted to be as a villain. Here, the wholesale destruction is coupled with a pathological disregard for any other being in the universe. This chilling sense of entitlement is what makes this villain so terrifying.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 comes together in a surprisingly compelling way. This represents a high point for Marvel in the midst of a rampant lack of creativity in recent projects. Hopefully, this movie serves as an example for Marvel content in terms of closing chapters but leaving doors over. Evidently, the Guardians haven’t had their last ride. This may well be the beginning of a whole new saga of apparently much-needed galaxy guarding.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is streaming now on Disney+.