Maybe it’s just me, but Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the first Marvel movie since Avengers Endgame that feels like an event. Some of that might be attributed to recent MCU films relying on a structure and formula that’s become increasingly stale.
And maybe part of it is because, prior to release, it was made quite clear that this is definitely the final chapter and the last time we’d see these characters (collectively, anyway). In a way, Volume 3 is its own Endgame, meaning that if one is able to avoid spoilers on the internet, the fates of every character we’ve become attached to is totally up in the air.
But I think the main reason Volume 3 is a bigger deal than your typical Marvel movie is James Gunn. As the writer/director of all of them, he's always stressed his characters over plot and spectacle, and they've grown over the course of three films to become something like a family (dysfunctional as it is sometimes).
Additionally, Guardians of the Galaxy is the only remaining franchise that doesn’t solely exist to serve the MCU. A couple of ongoing side stories notwithstanding, knowledge of events in other franchises isn’t required to fully enjoy them. They exist in another part of the galaxy, and we’re better off for it.
Volume 3 caps off the MCU’s most consistent franchise in grand style, both aesthetically and thematically. The story features its most hateful villain, High Evolutionary, who's trying to populate an entire planet of beings that he’s created through cruel experimentation. Rocket is one result of such experiments, which are depicted through grim and poignant flashback sequences.
|"That dumpster doesn't stand a chance."|
However, it’s the relationships between the characters that drive the film, especially since we’re aware of its finality. I’m not quite ready to declare it the best of the trilogy (the first one is still the most freewheeling fun), but this one certainly grabs you in the feels - numerous times - and not just because this is the big goodbye. Unless one’s a cold-hearted cynic, the fate of some new characters is heartbreaking.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is easily the best Marvel movie since Endgame (and mostly free of all that pesky MCU baggage), bringing the franchise to an emotionally satisfying conclusion. We're sure gonna miss these guys, but at least they go out with a bang.
FEATURETTES - “The Imperfect, Perfect Family”; “Creating Rocket Raccoon.”
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By writer-director James Gunn.
8 DELETED SCENES