November 24, 2023

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (henceforth MCU) was revitalized by James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, but by the time its second sequel arrives, the never-ending superhero tale appears painfully fat and unpleasant. Although each of these films continues to earn close to a billion dollars worldwide, this falls short of Disney’s projections of making an additional billion. Since Avengers: Endgame (2019), all MCU films have received negative reviews from critics and audiences alike, and every entertainment publication has published at least one opinion piece about the overexposure of superheroes in popular culture.

The answer? Bring in Gunn and his motley crew of outcasts. The most thrilling movies in the studio have always been produced by Gunn, who has always had greater creative license than the other MCU filmmakers. The first movie in the Guardians series was such an unlikely success and cultural breakthrough that it served as a model for other Marvel movies.

Then, as Gunn’s influence in the studio grew, something odd occurred. His voice would define the saga’s future, the second Guardians was yet another triumph, and his work influenced subsequent movies in the larger cinematic universe. However, the then-head of Marvel Films was alarmed by a group of alt-right trolls’ behavior on social media and fired Gunn while he was working on the third Guardians. The rest is history: Kevin Feige, the brains behind the entire Marvel Films giant, rehired Gunn for just one final spin around the block, to complete his trilogy. Gunn was hired by competitor DC, where he is now in charge of its cinematic universe. The executive who dismissed him was fired.

my backstory has a purpose and fills in the blanks in my review, allowing me to write it without giving away too much of the story.As Gunn’s final film for Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 (hereinafter referred to as Guardians 3) goes all out with a dark, bloody, intense epic that not only wraps up the storylines of all the characters but also reveals the trilogy’s overarching thematic thread.

After the events of Endgame, the tale follows the members of the Guardians team: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Rocket mopes around while listening to Radiohead, Quill consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, while the rest work to maintain order. A race against time to uncover The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji, arguably one of the finest villains in the MCU), the person who created and tormented Rocket, begins when the team is ambushed by a new antagonist, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter at the top of his game). Gamora (Zoe Saldaa), who was once Quill’s romantic interest, is recruited to help them along the way. However, because this version is from the past and he doesn’t remember meeting her, and… well, that part is a bit complicated and requires too much background, so for the sake of brevity, let’s just say that Gamora and Quill were once in love but no longer remember it. Move forward with that.

It sounds complicated in the manner that comic books do, with a lot of baggage to help the reader comprehend the background (in this instance, 31 movies and 8 TV episodes). However, none of that is necessary to understand what Gunn is doing. He nails the appropriate emotional notes that are universally accessible. In the movie you’re watching, a group of pals travel through space to save one another, and one of them needs to cooperate with his amnesic ex-girlfriend. The rest is just geek noise.

This is the reason Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 succeeds. Gunn performs at the top of his game, maximizing his creative freedom to push the envelope. A horrifying image of animal torture is depicted, along with an f-bomb and body horror. People pass away, and characters scream in anguish. The melancholy hymn to nostalgic malaise by Radiohead, Creep, sets the mood for the whole movie. I’m still amazed that a particularly bizarre piece of horrific makeup art made it past Marvel’s family-friendly censors.

Yet Gunn’s cheesiness balances it all out. Normally, this would cause people to roll their eyes, but Gunn has mastered the Spielberg technique of combining a satisfying and uncomplicated sentimental payout with both visual and emotional shock.

The realization that all Guardians had the same central theme of challenging authority surprised me. The third chapter aims to challenge heavenly power, whereas the first two chapters focused on a group of outcasts resisting pressures from society and the origins of parental authority, respectively. Not religion, but the idea of standing before our Maker. It’s a pretty simple Nietzschean interpretation, but I’ll take a rudimentary philosophical interpretation of favorite blockbusters over a lack of ideas any day.

In the end, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 is the only MCU movie I’ve liked since Endgame and is likely to be the finest of the more than 30 MCU movies. It probably won’t get much better than this.

Sadly, Gunn will no longer be a part of this cinematic world since he has moved to DC/Warner Bros., and I really hope he doesn’t come to regret the decision. He gains from sticking out as the oddball misfit with Marvel. He runs the risk of turning into something he has so far avoided: banal as the new creative force driving all upcoming DC movies.

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