WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 3.
Following Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, James Gunn has now also completed his MCU trilogy with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
The team of cosmic superheroes have come a long way since Vol 2, with most of the gang being killed during Avengers Infinity War before being brought back to life in Avengers Endgame.
After cameoing at the start of Thor Love and Thunder they settled on the Collector’s old haunt of Knowhere, which featured in their Disney+ Holiday Special last Christmas.
We all thought this was the story of Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, but it turns out it was the tale of Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon all along.
READ MORE: Watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 at cinemas for ‘free’ with Odeon
After Rocket Raccoon is left at death’s door following an attack from Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock (a powerful artificial being created by the Sovereign) the Guardians of the Galaxy travel to the Orgospehere to find the critter’s file from his animal experimentation days and save his life.
Throughout the latest Marvel adventure, the audience views Rocket’s backstory of him being adapted with high intelligence by the film’s villain the High Evolutionary. Most of which are heartbreaking scenes of cyborg cute animals in cages talking about their friendship and dreaming of escaping together.
This is the real tear-jerking stuff as we soon discover just how disposable the creatures are to the High Evolutionary in his “perfecting” eugenics and desire to create the ultimate society. We witness the murders of Rocket’s animal buddies as he rips the villain’s face off in wrathful vengeance before escaping, in a scene that makes Guardians Vol 3 one of the most violent of the franchise to date.
Back in the present, there are plenty of laughs to be expected from the Guardians in their Orgosphere infiltration, especially from Drax, Mantis and Cosmo the Spacedog. Additionally, Poutler’s newly-born Warlock suffers from a similar lack of social skills, before turning from antagonist to team member.
We’re also treated to massive action set pieces full of explosions and gun fights, including battles with some incredibly monstrous creations of the High Evolutionary, making this one of the weirdest MCU movies so far. There are also some fun cameos from Sylvester Stallone’s Ravager to Nathan Fillion as an orgosentry, to a touching memory of the late Yondu as Kraglin works out how to use his whistling arrow of death.
Chukwudi Iwuji is wonderfully maniacal as the High Evolutionary, although he doesn’t quite feel big enough a villain for the third film of the solo trilogy. Nevertheless, he gets his just deserts from a revived Rocket – who doesn’t die, hooray!
Although none of the Guardians kick the bucket, they do split in an emotional but amiable break-up. Star-Lord, who fails to win over the variant Gamora (who didn’t fall in love with him) decides to stop running away and return home to Earth in a sweet reunion with his grandfather.
Meanwhile, Gamora rejoins the Ravagers, Mantis leaves with the Abilisks and Nebula asks Drax to help raise the children they rescued in the third act. As for Rocket, he’s now the leader of the new Guardians, alongside a giant Groot, Kraglin, Adam Warlock, Cosmo, Phyla-Vell and Blurp. Meanwhile, the final tease is that this is not the last we’ll see of Star-Lord.
Overall, this was a fitting conclusion to what is probably the first Guardians trilogy. It’s full of the action and comedy we’re used to but also has a ton of heart and emotional moments with the characters we’ve come to know and love. At times the plot felt a little messy with not all the characters having enough to do and it’s definitely too long, but it’s a return to form for the MCU for sure.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is out now in cinemas.