Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hit theaters and fans’ hearts with the epic conclusion of this current cast of cosmic superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director James Gunn brings to the audience a story that revolves around how far a family will fight for the ones they hold close. Bridging from the end credit scene of GOTG Vol. 2, the Golden High Priestess of the Sovereign Race, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), swore her revenge against the Guardians, resulting in the creation of her son, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) whose sole purpose is taking the Guardians down, once and for all.
In the opening to Vol. 3, the tone feels quiet and calm aboard the dead celestial head of Knowhere, which the Guardians have established as their base for the time being. While a rather reformed Nebula (Karen Gillian) cares for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who has made a habit of drinking himself to sleep as he continues to mourn the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who was unwillingly sacrificed by Thanos in Avengers Infinity War (2018). Meanwhile, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) walks back to his quarters when suddenly he is attacked by Adam Warlock, causing a near-fatal injury that leaves him unresponsive. Trying to quickly aid Rocket with a med pack, a fail-safe mechanism inside the raccoon’s body is exposed, which was designed to exterminate Rocket if someone were to heal him.
Throughout the film, the audience gets to learn more about Rocket’s origin story alongside his “creator”, The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who desires to have his creation returned to him. Audiences learn how Rocket ended up becoming the intelligent and bad-mouthing Guardian he’s known as today. Unfortunately, his origin has a lot to do with painful experimentation and the loss of his fellow furry friends who were also bizarre projects for the High Evolutionary.
Rocket’s past makes his connection to Groot (Vin Diesel), who is like a son to Rocket, as well as his friendships with the Guardians, all the more powerful as his tough attitude appears to be more a facade to mask how deeply he cares for the ones around him, and how scared he is to lose more than he already has. For a GOTG film, this was a rather somber story to tell, but very fascinating to watch nonetheless.
The Guardians embark from Knowhere, being met by the Ravager fleet, led by Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone). Ogord devises a plan for the Guardians to help save Rocket, sending them along with alt-timeline Gamora, into infiltrating a bio-lab known as the Orgoscope, where the key to saving Rocket’s life may be held.
One may suspect with how much the Guardians bicker at each other that stealthy jobs will only go so far before something goes wrong, and don’t worry, things go very wrong. Gamora and Quill end up in a hostage negotiation while arguing with one another about friendship, love, and how ruthless this version of Gamora is. While Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) roam around the Orgoscope and engage in rather humiliating encounters with guards, the two are tasked with finding an exit, which gets cut short when alarms are triggered, revealing the intruder’s presence, and the Guardians are placed right in the middle of another battle. Learning of one of the scientists who had helped alter Rocket into what he is today, the group escapes from the tumor-looking space lab, and heads for a planet known as Counter-Earth where the High Evolutionary has attempted to create the perfect species, which ends up being a series of human-like animals, or perhaps animal-like humans.
James Gunn introduces the MCU’s first F-bomb in a hysterical way, as Nebula fails to open a car door which irritates Quill to the point of screaming “Open the f****** door!” The choice of placing the f-bomb here and not in a more vicious way in a later fight scene was an interesting direction but felt so “Chris Pratt” – like that its placement is well warranted, and fortunately shouldn’t be too impressionable on younger audiences.
While Mantis and Drax protect the ship, which has landed in the middle of a traditional Earth-like neighborhood on Counter-Earth, Rocket continues to lay unconscious aboard the Milano, having emotional flashbacks to his young life as a lab experiment. Gamora, not caring much for the team, sits back and awaits her ravager friends to come pick her up. The message that she sends out with her coordinates gets intercepted by Ayesha and Adam Warlock, who end up attacking the guardians on Counter-Earth. Quill and Groot head for the High Evolutionary’s main structure in order to find the scientist that contains the information within his cybernetic headpiece that will disable the fail-safe mechanism and save Rocket’s life.
It’s unfortunate that the majority of the film Rocket is absent from most scenes, but that absence certainly embellishes the influence that the character has had on the rest of the Guardians, even Nebula who has seemed to have warmed up quite nicely with the raccoon after having only each other for 5 years during the blip which followed Avengers Infinity War.
Moving ahead, with Groots body stacked with hidden weapons, the tree-like creature and Quill are taken to the High Evolutionary, and seemingly surrender before him, his guards, and the scientist that the Guardians have been after from the beginning.
The High Evolutionary speaks of how flawed the species is on Counter-Earth and begins a cataclysmic event to render everyone extinct before setting off to a new planet where he can make another attempt, this time hopefully creating the perfect species. However, he needs Rocket, and moreover, Rocket’s brain, since Rocket had outsmarted the High Evolutionary when he was young and corrected his formula of creating human-like creatures, which drove the High Evolutionary mad that such an animal knew more than he did.
In a quick turn of events, Groot and Quill grab the hidden weapons out of Groot’s body and start blasting as the High Evolutionary’s ship takes off. The duo sends the scientist through the window and the three ultimately fall back to the surface of Counter-Earth. Meanwhile, Mantis and Drax abandon their post at the Milano and meet with Nebula who is now insanely mad at the two for leaving Rocket and the ship behind. The three believe Quill and Groot are still on the High Evolutionary’s ship and attempt to save their friends.
In a huge case of miscommunication, Nebula, Drax, and Mantis board the ship as it starts to embark from Counter-Earth, while Quill radios in and starts freaking out at his team, stating that they always had an escape plan, and now Quill and Groot have to find a way to save the rest of the guardians. But not without the help of Gamora, and of course, Rocket, who is back in action for the final fight against the High Evolutionary.
Aboard the High Evolutionary’s ship, Nebula, Drax, and Mantis discover cages of different creatures, experimented on or captured by the evil scientist, including a large group of children speaking an unintelligible language. The three guardians argue back and forth, mainly due to Nebula’s aggression and the naivety of Drax and Mantis.
Following a change of heart in Adam Warlock after witnessing his mother’s death by the will of the High Evolutionary and his minions, Adam joins in on the fight against the evil scientist and aids the Guardians in taking him down. Rocket, with the help of his friends, defeats the insane High Evolutionary.
As the Guardians make their way off the destroyed ship in space, Rocket stays back, remembering his old cage-mates Lila, Teeth, and Floor. He would not allow the same fate that they did fall upon the caged creatures still on the ship. Reluctantly, and almost out of time, the rest of the Guardians help Rocket free all the species from their imprisonment. The Guardians call in Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and the fellow fighters aboard Knowhere for aid, for an escape.
Kraglin lines up the celestial head against an opening to the High Evolutionary’s ship. As a crowd of animals charge across the ship and jump though the opening to Knowhere, Quill gets stuck in space as he fails to make his way off the destroyed ship, his body expanding and freezing to death. It appears that Star-Lord has died as he floats aimlessly in the vacuum of space. Adam Warlock flies to pull Quill back into Knowhere, and somehow, Quill starts breathing once again.
Ultimately, this film brought many fake outs, pulled many heart strings, and ended the Guardians of the Galaxy as audiences know it. Mantis decides to leave to find her own path and meaning in life along with some creatures she bonded with aboard the ship. Drax, who wants to follow Mantis, is held back by Nebula, who acknowledges Drax’s ability to communicate with the many children that they have saved, claiming that she will need Drax as she leads the people of Knowhere. Gamora returns to her life as a Ravager, while Quill decides retire from being Star-Lord to find his grandfather on Earth, leaving Rocket to lead a new group of Guardians alongside Groot, Kraglin, Adam Warlock, and Phyla-Vell (a child who was saved from the High Evolutionary, who in the comics is the daughter of Mar-Vell.)
Don’t worry though, this will not be the end for all these characters on screen though, as Marvel has confirmed that Star-Lord will return. It can be assumed that the character will reappear in the next big Avengers film against Kang the Conqueror. Audiences are still left with some questions about both the past and the future of the Guardians, such as how did Groot and Rocket meet? Or will Rocket and the Guardians return alongside Star-Lord together? Or is this the last we’ll see of Rocket on the big screen? Which is doubtful.
This film took many risks, but also went back on many risks, like killing off Rocket and Quill. However, it was nice to see happy endings for this group, each and everyone member deserved one. Additionally, Adam Warlock, hopefully makes a return soon as Will Poulter does a phenomenal job with portraying the character. However, his presence felt very lacking in this film, which was supposedly due to James Gunn’s decision of cutting him from GOTG Vol. 2 while it was in production, and already having a story for GOTG Vol. 3 that was heavily steered by Rockets relationship with the High Evolutionary, not so much Adam Warlock, but Gunn still found him room for relevance.
On a scale of 0-10, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a 11. Between groovy song choices, riveting characters, awesome battles, hilarious jokes, and heartfelt goodbyes, Gunn brings an excellent conclusion for this team of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Recap And Movie Review article published on BigCityReview.com© 2023
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