Director James Gunn has given his final MCU hurrah with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the third and last instalment of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. Released on 5 May 2023, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 has given MCU fans a break from the over-the-top Multiverse plot Marvel has had going in their movie for the past 2 years and thrust back into the intimate, clever and hilarious adventures of the James Gunn’s GOTG world.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Guardians the Galaxy Vol. 3 brings back all our favourite Guardians: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Starlord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. This ensemble cast is joined by new villains: Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary and Will Poulter as Adam Warlock.
Staying far away from the MCU’s multiverse, director and co-writer James Gunn takes his beloved guardians on a space adventure that reveals the painful past of one of the characters, gives another one a future away from their past and blesses all of them with a friendship that will last forever.
Warning: The Following article will spoil the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot. Read at your own responsibility; you have been warned!
A Plot Summary
After the events of Avengers: Endgame and the victory and loss the guardians endured, they have finally made a home for themselves in Knowehere. Trying to build a society where everyone is welcomed, Knowehere is suddenly attacked by Adam Warlock, a Sovereign warrior created by high priestess Ayesha. Adam nearly destroys Knowehere, and in the process of trying to stop him, Rocket is gravely injured.
Nebula succeeds in wounding Adam and forcing him to flee. However, the guardians discover that Rocket’s wounds are too grave, and a kill switch in his body has been activated, preventing him from healing. Finding out that the only way to save Rocket is to get the override code from Orgocorp, the company that created Rocket, the guardians leave Knowhere to retrieve it.
While lying unconscious, Rocket starts to recall his past in Orgocorp. As a baby racoon, Rocket has been experimented on by the High Evolutionary, a mad scientist who is hellbent on building the perfect society. Rocket befriends his fellow cellmates and test subjects in Batch 89, Laylla the otter, Teefs the walrus and Floor the rabbit. Together they dream of one day joining the High Evolutionary’s perfect society on Counter-Earth. As time goes by, Rocket’s intelligence grows.
At first, the High Evolutionary is proud of his development as Rocket helps him perfect his creations. However, as Rocket becomes even smarter than his creator, something the High Evolutionary cannot accept, he decides to kill Rocket and harvest his brain for more studying. Rocket plans to escape Orgocorp with his friends. Still, during their escape attempt, the High Evolutionary and his henchmen kill Laylla, Teefs and Floor. Rocket escapes alone after mauling the High Evolutionary.
In the present, the guardians have successfully infiltrated Orgocorp with the help of the alternate version of Gamora, who is now a member of the Ravagers. They arrive at the filing department but discover that the override code is missing from Rocket’s file and is most probably in the possession of Theel, the High Evolutionary’s assistant. They barely succeed in fleeing Orgocorp as they decide to go after Theel at Counter-Earth. As they arrive at Counter-Earth, they find out that Theel and the High Evolutionary are staying at Arête, a huge spaceship that oversees Counter-Earth.
Quill, Groot and Nebula go to Arête to retrieve the override code, while Drax, Mantis and Gamora stay on the ship to guard Rocket. As Quill and Groot -Nebula gets stuck outside the ship- fight the High Evolutionary and Theel for the code, Drax and Mantic abandon their post to come after them. Gamora and Rocket get attacked by Adam Warlock again.
We learn that the High Evolutionary has hired Adam Warlock to capture Rocket, or else the High Evolutionary will destroy his entire race. The High Evolutionary reveals that he is going to destroy Counter-Earth as it does not meet his standard of perfection. Quill and Groot fight Theel off the ship and end up succeeding in acquiring the override code from his corps while Gamora flies the guardians’ ship out of Counter-Earth, leaving Drax, Nebula and Mantis stranded on Arête.
Quill uses the override code to disable Rocket’s kill switch, which allows him to start healing from his wounds finally. In Rocket’s mind, he meets up with Layla, who tells him that his time has not yet come and he needs to go back to his friends. Rocket wakes up, and the guardians stage a rescue mission to save Drax, Mantis and Nebula.
As they arrive on Arête, a final battle breaks between the guardians and the High Evolutionary. Kraglin uses Knowehere to attack Arête and causes significant damage to the ship. Using Cosmos’s telekinetic powers, the guardians rescue all of the High Evolutionary experiments and test subjects, bringing them to Knowhere and leaving the High Evolutionary to die with his ship.
With all the guardians safely back in Knowehere, each one of them decides what they will do from here on out. Quill decides to go back to Earth to visit his grandfather, Mantice embarks on a self-discovering journey, and Gamora goes back to the Ravagers. At the same time, Drax, Nebula, Rocket and Groot stay in Knowehere to help build it back and offer the High Evolutionary’s experiments a better life.
Rocket Faces His Past Demons
The plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 combines the quick wit and humour we expect from the movie with the heart-wrenching and emotional origin story of Rocket. From the very first movie, Rocket is known to be extremely smart with a dark sense of humour that we, as an audience, are exactly sure where it comes from. Throughout the trilogy, Rocket avoids talking about his past, or where he came from, and in GOTG Vol. 3, we finally find out why.
The movie builds its action slowly but without a moment of boredom. We see the guardians slowly figuring out parts of Rocket’s horrific past as they try to save his life, and on the other hand, we go back to the past to experience his life first-hand. As the action rises and the stakes get higher and higher, the climax of the story is not the guardians finding the override code and saving Rocket but Rocket’s showdown with the High Evolutionary.
After running away for years, Rocket finally has the chance to stop running and face his past. Despite his initial need for revenge for his friends and for what the High Evolutionary has done to him and countless others, Rocket decides that saving the ones who can still be saved is more important than avenging the ones who are already dead. This decision is the climax of the movie and Rocket’s story. Rocket leaves the past in the past and uses what he learned to build a better future for himself and everyone around him.
Even though Rocket is the main character of this movie and his story is the driver of the plot, by the end of the movie, all the characters learn the same lesson. Quill decides to go back to Earth and face his past and the people he left behind. Mantis learns that she never had her own life and always attached herself to others, and it’s time for her to face her future alone.
Gamora finds a new life away from her bloody past and Quill’s expectations of who she is with the Ravagers. And finally, Drax and Nebula decide that their tragic past and experience with the family will fuel their future as they raise the new generation of the High Evolutionary’s experiments in a loving and caring world.
The Unmistakable Look of GOTG
James Gunn built the Guardians of the Galaxy’s world back in 2014 and since then has maintained a certain look and tone with the movies that were quite distinct from all other MCU movies. Even though all MCU movies are built around each other, James Gunn was adamant about writing a story that stands on its own.
The guardians have briefly tangled with the other MCU characters, Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame and the events of both movies had a huge effect on the guardians and especially Gamora. However, James Gunn still swept it all under the rug and wrote a unique movie that acknowledges the past events but still tells its own story away from any complications.
Marvel is known for its excessive use of CGI, and in the past couple of movies, they were criticised for it—however, this time, James Gunn and his teams made perfect use of CGI. GOTG Vol. 3 is full of CGI and practical effects since the whole story takes place in space, and we can’t actually go there (yet). But despite that, all the locations -especially Orgocorp- felt distinctly real and unreal at the same time. Gunn wanted the audience to feel immersed in the location but also wasn’t trying to trick them into thinking this place is real (we certainly hope Orgocorp isn’t because that fleshy interior was not feng shui!).
As is the habit of every GOTG movie, the movie is full of colours! Gunn is not afraid of using light and vivid colours to showcase his world and characters. The only time the screen is dark and muted colours are used is during Rocket’s flashbacks. The visual tones of the movie immediately shift when we see Rocket in his cell with Batch 89, and that helps the audience get into the grim mood of Rocket’s past as opposed to the colourful life he has now with the guardians.
Awesome Mixtape Vol. 3
Since the release of the very first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the soundtrack of each movie has been more and more iconic. Each movie decided to use classic songs from all-time great artists instead of creating a whole new soundtrack that no one knows. That could have been taken as laziness if it went wrong, but luckily for James Gunn, the audience loved it! Something about hearing these old classic tracks playing as background music to your favourite space travelling adventures just hits the sweet spot every single time.
The soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is named Awesome Mixtape Vol. 3 and is presented in the movie as part of Quill’s music collection that he inherited from his human mother. This little background story makes the soundtrack feel even more intimate and connected to the events of the movie.
The most important element of GOTG Vol. 3 is the guardians themselves. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a very character-driven movie. With Rocket in the centre of the events, we experience the entire plot about his character, but at the same time, we get to dive into the other guardians’ characters and what drives them.
The whole plot of the movie revolves around Rocket. His origin story and his past experiences fuel the movie and the events that take place. Even though Rocket is unconscious for most of the movie, we still see his characters in the past as he navigates it and leads us to the current events of the movie. Rocket battles with his past in the present and learns that running away is not a solution and is more of a band-aid to never healing wounds.
Quill had grown a lot as a character from when the audience met him for the first time in Vol. 1. He lost his mother when he was a kid, lost his father, who turned out to be a monster and then lost his father figure who raised him, Yondu. Despite all of this, the loss that actually broke Quill was Gamora, who died during the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
Throughout the movie, Quill has to deal with Gamora’s death and the fact that the alternate universe Gamora whom he meets is not his Gamora. Quill’s past is as complicated as Rocket’s, and by the end of this movie, he decides to stop chasing something that no longer exists and find the American family that he left behind all those years ago.
The Gamora we meet in GOTG Vol 3 is not the Gamora we have known before but rather an alternate version of her. This is the only mention we have of what happened in the Avengers movie. This Gamora has never been a guardian of the Galaxy and has no intention of ever joining them. Throughout the movie, she tries to build her own life away from the expectations of Quill and Nebula, who are missing someone she cannot be.
Unlike Quill, Nebula has made peace with the fact that her sister is dead and that the Gamora she sees now is not the same one she lost. She builds a different relationship with her alternate-universe sister and tries to help Quill do the same. Throughout the movie, Nebula relates to Rocket’s past pain through her own experiences with Thanos. She knows what it’s like to be experimented on, and that drives her need to avenge Rocket and save his life.
Drax & Mantis
Drax and Mantis are always considered the comic relief characters of the GOTG world. They’re funny in a clueless way that keeps things interesting and unexpected. They play the same role in GOTG Vol 3, but underneath, the audience can still see the root of their characters. Drax longs to be a father, and this side of him shows when they find the High Evolutionary’s child experiments. And for Mantis, she discovers that despite her love for the guardians, she needs to know what it’s like to be just Mantis. Not her father’s assistant or the part of guardians.
GOTG Vol. 3 Hits the Sweet Spot
In my humble opinion, GOTG Vol. 3 hit the sweet spot and more than delivered! From the characters to the plot to how it handled every event, past and present, the movie succeeded in delivering a lighthearted AND emotional experience at the same time. Unlike a certain movie about a certain god of thunder, GOTG did not lose its heart in the midst of comedy. It perfectly blended quick wit and hilarious jokes with perfect delivery with heat warming and heart-wrenching events that helped the audience personally connect with its characters.
James Gunn has definitely given a fantastic final hurrah to his MCU adventure. He delivered three absolutely wonderful movies and wrapped them up perfectly with a bow on top. Guardians of the Galaxy will forever stand as one of the best trilogies ever made. Whether we get more GOTG in the future or not, it was a great unforgettable ride.