The MCU is a juggernaut of a franchise. This 15-year-old cinematic universe (yeah, 15 years, you feel old yet) has been pumping out content every year since 2008. With all that content being released, a lot of it starts to blend into a blob of action scenes and costumes. However, there was one film released all the way back in 2014 that stood out from the crowd and went on to become a fan favorite, Guardians of the Galaxy. The unique style director James Gunn brought to the MCU made this film a unique gem amongst countless other Marvel movies. Fans enjoyed the film so much that we got a sequel in 2017 that kept the same charm from the original. Now six years later, James Gunn is back to finish this Guardians trilogy, and he did so masterfully.
Like the first two films of the trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 tells one of the better stories within the MCU. This time, the focus is placed squarely on everyone’s favorite Raccoon, Rocket. The film dives deep into his backstory and reveals the admittingly dark secrets of his creation. In fact, this is probably the darkest MCU plot to date; it doesn’t shy away from anything. The main villain, the High Evolutionary, adds to this dark tone by being one of the most despicable characters I’ve seen in recent years. How his evil deeds are slowly revealed throughout the film will leave you both angry and disgusted.
It’s not all dark and disgusting, though, because the film still includes the same wacky antics you’d expect from this rag-tag team. The film makes sure to break up all the big reveals with either a fun trip floating through space, the gang trying to talk with a bunch of animal people, or the first use of the word Fuck in the MCU! These moments of levity help to calm everyone down after the big emotional moments and lets the characters shine.
One of the biggest things everyone loves about the Guardians of the Galaxy films is the characters; they’re just as excellent here. Everyone you’ve grown to love is here, alongside some newcomers who leave a massive impact. The original returning crew of Peter Quill, Drax, Rocket, and Groot are all here and are just as enjoyable to watch as ever. They’ve managed to keep the banter between these characters fresh for almost ten years, and I’ll never get tired of it. However, more recent additions to the roster, Nebula and Mantis, steal the show. Mantis especially was a standout for me, and I enjoyed every second she was on screen.
Newcomer Adam Warlock wasn’t what I imagined initially. After the post-credit tease at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, I expected an all-powerful destroyer that would hunt down the team at any cost. Now, he does hunt the Guardians down, but he’s more of an idiot child than a badass, and I loved it. Watching someone with tremendous power be totally inept in every other aspect of existence was entertaining, to say the least. I’ve already mentioned the film’s main villain, the High Evolutionary, but I just wanted to reiterate that he’s an absolute dick. Chukwudi Iwuji did an excellent job conveying just how unlikable this character is. You’ll be waiting and hoping for the jerk to get what’s coming to him.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 keeps the unique look established in the previous films. Every location looks distinct but believable for the universe. Some highlights are the returning Knowhere and the weird organic building that I’ve forgotten the name of. Similarly to the locations, the costumes are also all top-notch. I particularly liked the multi-colored space suits that made the Guardians look like Teletubbies floating through space. I was a little confused why Quill didn’t have his iconic mask, but the film makes up for it by giving the team matching uniforms that looked great (I guess Drax doesn’t mind shirts now).
I couldn’t review a Guardians of the Galaxy film without mentioning the soundtrack. Like the other two films, the soundtrack is integral to the experience. Once again, Gunn has curated an awesome playlist that will keep you vibing throughout. The tracks this time are pulled from the late 90’s to the early 2000s (if you didn’t feel old yet, you will now.) Each track adds another layer of enjoyment to every scene. And after that final scene, you’ll never be able to listen to “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine the same way again.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 was a satisfying end to the best MCU trilogy. The plot is an emotional roller coaster, with some of the darkest plot points in any Marvel film. The characters are just as lovable as always, especially Nebula and Mantis. The vibrant aesthetic gives the film a unique look that even stands out from the other Guardians films. If you’re a fan of all things Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll have a good time. If you’re like me and a little burnt out on the MCU, I’d still say give this one a shot; it’s probably the best film they’ve put out in the last four years.
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3? What did you think? Who is your favorite member of the team? Let us know in the comments down below where we can talk about how Mantis somehow became the funniest character in the MCU.