Review: ‘Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3’ is an emotional end to a trilogy of 10 years

A scene from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is kicking off the summer movie season. (Marvel Studios/TNS)

By Dylan Gonzales, Reporter

In his final movie with Marvel Studios before taking over as president for DC Comics, director and writer James Gunn delivers a satisfying and emotional conclusion for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy.

Not only is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” a massive success for Marvel, but also for Gunn. Throughout the duration of his career, Gunn has written and directed five comic book movie adaptation projects. Along with the trilogy, Gunn also wrote “The Suicide Squad” and its spin-off show “Peacemaker.” Both of these are considered some of the best projects DC has released over the last 10 years, while the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy is considered the best in the MCU.

Gunn’s journey to “Guardian of The Galaxy Vol. 3” was far from perfect.

In 2018, Gunn was fired from Disney after several controversial tweets surfaced from years prior. During this time, DC Comics hired him to write and direct “The Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker.” Gunn was eventually re-hired in 2019 after several actors, including Dave Bautista, who portrays Drax in the Guardian of The Galaxy films, said they wouldn’t be returning for the third movie if Gunn was not in charge.

Gunn also included several actors he’s worked with in the past in small roles. His wife Jennifer Holland, who was also in “The Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker” portrayed Kwol. Daniela Melchoir, “The Suicide Squad”, played Ura. Ura also has a small but comedic role as Star-Lord tries to hit on her to show the alternate timeline Gamora how he won her over in the first film. Nathan Fillion, “The Suicide Squad,” plays Orgosentry Master Karja. Fillion is involved in one of the funniest scenes in the movie with Nebula, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Mantis while on the Orgosphere.

Gunn has been known to cast actors who he’s worked with in the past. He will continue this trend with DC. On May 6, Gunn confirmed in a tweet that an actor from the Guardians trilogy will appear in his next film “Superman: Legacy”.

A balance between laughter and severity

Returning for his final Marvel film, Gunn’s comedy and emotional moments are perfectly balanced. All of the emotional moments have enough time to have an impact before a joke comes in.

The film is one of the most emotional in the MCU, as Gunn tugs at the heartstrings right from the beginning with a scene of baby Rocket being taken in by The High Evolutionary, the villain of the film. Rocket’s tragic backstory serves as the emotional core of the film even though a majority of his best moments were via flashbacks.

Dave Bautista, left, and Pom Klementieff in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” (Jessica Miglio/Marvel Studios) (TNS)

A true villain performance from Iwuji

The High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji, who also worked with Gunn in “Peacemaker,” is one of the most memorable villains in the MCU. Many other villains such as Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Wanda in “Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness” and Namor in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” are highly regarded due to them believing they are the hero in their own stories. All of these films are streaming on Disney+.

The High Evolutionary is arguably the most despised villain in the entire MCU. His treatment of Rocket and the other animals is heartbreaking to watch for anyone who has ever had a pet.

Some of the most emotional characters in the entire film are the animals that Rocket is locked away with by The High Evolutionary. Lylla, Teefs and Floor all befriend Rocket and have several heart-touching moments together, including when they all come up with their names.

A farewell to the leading heroes

Once again, the chemistry between the actors and characters works very well. Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord spends the film trying to get over that Gamora, of an alternate timeline, isn’t the same one who was in love with him which leads to several emotional yet comedic moments that only someone of Gunn’s caliber can deliver effectively.

Bautista’s, Drax, and Pom Klementieff’s, Mantis, have always been a great comedic duo. That is the case again as the two share several comedic scenes. After serving as almost exclusively comic relief during her other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) appearances, Mantis realizes that she is worth more than just being emotional support for her friends. The same can be said about Drax who discovers his true purpose.

A new age of guardians

One of the best character arcs throughout the entire MCU is Nebula. Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, first appeared in Volume 1 as an antagonist working for Ronan the Accuser. By the end of Volume 3, she becomes one of the leaders for the Guardians.

One of the most underrated relationships in the entire MCU is the one between Rocket and Nebula. The two characters were the only Guardians to survive Thanos’ snap in “Avengers: Infinity War.” While they don’t have a lot of scenes together, the chemistry they share is evident throughout the film.

Vin Diesel’s Groot has several great moments. Not only is his physical presence felt, but emotional as well. Even though the audience can’t understand what Groot says most of the time, seeing the reaction of the other characters leads to emotional and comedic moments.

Groot is also one of the most relatable characters in the sense that the audience grew up with him. After the original Groot sacrifices himself at the end of the first “Guardians” film, we are introduced to Baby Groot, who quickly stole the hearts of audiences worldwide.

Over the last nine years, we have seen Groot go from a baby who is unable to follow simple instructions in Volume 2, to a moody teenager in “Avengers: Infinity War” streaming on Disney+, and now to a young adult who has one of the most emotional moments in Volume 3.

Another great relationship that evolves throughout the film is Kraglin, played by Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn, and Cosmo the Spacedog. While the characters of the past were stellar, the new characters pull their weight as well.

Another character that was introduced was Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock. Warlock was teased at the end of Volume 2 but didn’t appear on the screen. In this film, he provides a physical threat to the guardians in his short amount of screen time. In the beginning of the film, Warlock holds his own against the Guardians on Knowhere. Poulter’s character is very childish, however, the reason for it is explained in the film as he was released from his cocoon too early by The High Evolutionary. Audiences can expect to see a lot of Warlock in the future of the MCU as he is a part of the new team of Guardians.

Joining Warlock on the new team of Guardians are Rocket, the new leader of the Guardians, Groot, Kraglin, Cosmo the Spacedog and Phyla, one of the children rescued on by the Guardians

Some questions left unanswered

Chris Pratt in the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” (Marvel Studios/TNS) (TNS)

The only thing they should’ve added was more moments between Mantis and Star-Lord. In “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” on Disney+, it was revealed that the two were half-siblings.

Other than that small nitpick, this film delivered on all levels and is one of the best MCU movies.

Even though the movie doesn’t tie into the multiverse saga, Gunn left the door open for several stories to be told about these characters in the future, even though we are likely never to see the original team together again.

MCU fans have over a month until its next project releases with “Secret Invasion” releasing June 21 on Disney+.

While Gunn’s time with Marvel Studios has come to an end, his career making content is hopefully just finishing its first phase. Fans can see Gunn’s second DC movie on July 11, 2025, with “Superman: Legacy.”