This isn’t to say that the MCU has been outright bad recently, but the quality of their recent projects has certainly been more mixed than in past phases. Amongst other criticisms, one prevalent issue with recent MCU films is that they simply seem too formulaic – like they were directed by committee.
Between the distinct, frequently criticized style of humour and the generic villains, people just seem to think that MCU movies have gotten too repetitive.
For some context, “Guardians 2” was a little divisive but generally liked, and the movie the Guardians last appeared in, “Thor: Love and Thunder”, is widely regarded as one of the worst MCU movies to date. All this is to say that many fans were rightfully scared of what James Gunn would do with the finale to his Magnum Opus.
The consensus, though, is that Gunn smashed it out of the park. Unlike in Guardians 2, the character relationships in Guardians 3 seem more than one-dimensional, and unlike Thor 4, Guardians 3 strikes the perfect balance between serious and humorous tones.
The film is interesting in that It could almost be described as a heist movie. Within the first 30 minutes, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) gets critically injured, forcing an alcoholic Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), the standoffish Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Drax (Dave Bautista) & Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to snap out of their negative attitudes to steal crucial supplies needed to rescue their friend.
Of course with the help of fellow guardian Groot (Vin Diesel), as well as Gamora (Zoe Saldana) from a pre “Avengers: Endgame” timeline, the gang travels to these surreal places in order to find what Rocket needs to survive.
From here, the film’s primary antagonist, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), in an act of revenge, decides he’s going to capture Rocket, his former lab-rat, in order to torture and kill him.
To keep myself from talking too much about the plot (you should really watch this yourself), I’ll just say that the rest of the film is like a game of capture the flag between the Guardians and the High Evolutionary, except the flag is an unconscious Rocket Raccoon.
Ultimately, the best thing that this movie does is its fleshing out of Rocket’s backstory. As I said earlier, Rocket was previously a lab-rat for the High Evolutionary, in his agenda to create the perfect mutant animal planet. Using this origin story, throughout the film, we get continuous flashbacks to Rocket’s time with the High Evolutionary.
Seeing his life as good at first, Rocket slowly realizes within these flashbacks that the High Evolutionary doesn’t see him as anything more than a science project. Upon this realization, Rocket escapes with the implication that he meets Groot shortly after.
Rocket’s backstory is probably the darkest, as well as some of the saddest material we’ve ever got from the MCU, and it absolutely makes this movie. James Gunn is on the record saying that he sees Rocket as the real leader and hero of the Guardians series, and in this movie, he got to prove that.
Guardians 3 is the perfect origin story, even if it was 3 movies into a series, and it was the perfect way to close off this chapter of the Guardians’ story. A near perfect movie, Guardians 3 deserves the 10/10 score I’m giving it.