A Quick Note On Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Still of Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Athena ScalziMarvel has always had a bit of a tonal issue across their cinematic universe, and even within singular franchises, such as Thor. There was one franchise in particular though that I was positive I had nailed down in terms of what to expect. Guardians of the Galaxy was one where I was sure of what I was going to get: loveable assholes being funny whilst fighting in spaceships. There was never much more to it than space lasers, iconic music, and comedy, and that was fine. So I was extremely surprised when I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 last night, and cried about ten different times.

Vol 3. was so unlike what I was expecting. In fact, I had pretty low expectations since the most recent Marvel movie I saw in theaters was Thor: Love and Thunder, and it ended up being the worst Thor movie, the worst Marvel movie, and one of the worst movies I’ve literally ever seen in my life.

So, yeah, I wasn’t particularly excited for Vol 3., but I figured I’d give a shot. And I am so glad I did.

Vol 3. was emotionally complex, and managed to keep its comedic tone while being a real tearjerker and having some seriously serious moments. The characters were still their pain in the ass sarcastic selves, but without being wildly out of character for the sake of a joke (looking at you, Thor). They were also more three-dimensional in this one, and allowed to have more emotions than just sarcasm. The theme of “found family” was especially strong, and played in to pretty much all the conflict, and drove the plot and character motivations.

Of course, these are all positives and made for a really good movie, but it was also a hard watch. It was… sad. There was a lot of trauma, and a lot of grief, and it was painful. I went in unprepared for how much this movie would make me feel. For once, Marvel didn’t undercut the sadness with bathos. You get to sit in the sadness, experience the raw emotions of the characters, and really let it sink in. The stakes are high, the performances are powerful, and the tears are flowing.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy is a super fun, colorful, interesting new side of Marvel that was a classic opener of a series. The second one dropped the ball a bit and was pretty lackluster but at least contributed to some lore. And the third is a heart-wrenching story that wove together the past and present, showed so many forms of love and grief, and really proved that these characters love each other unconditionally and will go to the ends of the earth (or galaxy) for one another.

Overall, Vol 3. was a great movie, and did so many things well. It was unexpectedly sad, and I really recommend catching it in theaters if you haven’t already, but maybe bring some tissues. And be careful bringing children to this movie because there is a lot of nightmare fuel that honestly disturbed me.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Do you like the first, second, or this one best? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


23 Comments on “A Quick Note On Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

  1. I guess I have a different recall.

    Vol. 1. Groot protecting the gang.

    Vol 2. Passing of Yondu and funeral.

    So tonally much the same I’d say. Cried at all three movies.

    Certainly felt like the end of the trilogy.

  2. I loved it. As you say, the emotional content gave it a lot more of a wallop than most Marvel movies, although there was also the spectacle of a flesh planet and that amazing “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” scene (among others) to keep things outre and exciting. I had recently seen both The Plague Dogs and EO, so it’s been an emotional month of cinema for this animal lover.

  3. I told my daughter it was kind of a happy movie actually – lots of past suffering but also redemption and continuation.

    The core plot line was pretty thin but the series tie up and character development was great. I loved how they handled the Gamora and Nebula arcs.

  4. GOTG vol 3 was definitely the best of the trilogy. James Gunn has a flair for gross and gags but his films also always have a lot of heart. I was a sobbing mess the last 1/4 of this film too but it definitely stuck the landing.

    p.s. GOTG vol 2 hits differently for people who didn’t have a Dad in their lives and/or had Step-fathers.

  5. Thanks for the review, Athena. I may actually go see this one. I am definitely suffering from “franchise fatigue” with the Marvel movies, especially after the yawner that was the latest Ant-man movie.

  6. My husband’s reaction:

    “Was that a 150 minute advertisement for the Humane Society? We need to go home immediately and hug our cats!”

  7. Vaguely spoiler stuff

    My daughter and I are extremely empathic, especially towards animals. A family friend saw Vol. 3 and told us that under no circumstances should we see it.

    This may be the first Marvel movie we skip completely.

  8. I haven’t seen it, but I think I have to just conclude that I’m the only person not involved with “Love and Thunder”, lol. But then, I’ve been a fan of Taika Waititi since his low-budget New Zealand movie days, so none of the goofiness surprised me. It does puzzle me that people who loved “Thor: Ragnarok” hated it. I mean, he was, “more of this? Okie dokie”

    But every opinion is valid; it’s art, not science. People my age freak out about how much I dislike”Moulin Rouge”, especially since I love other Baz Lurman movies so very much. Especially “Strictly Ballroom”

  9. Went to see it last sunday.

    So, yeah, I wasn’t particularly excited for Vol 3., but I figured I’d give a shot. And I am so glad I did.

    This perfectly summarizes my feelings. It way way better than expected!


    It does puzzle me that people who loved “Thor: Ragnarok” hated it. I mean, he was, “more of this? Okie dokie”

    Love and Thunder basically overdid, what Ragnarök did well. It felt like a parody of Ragnarök, it was just too much. I was mostly there for the ride, I enjoyed the utter ridiculousness, but I see why people hate it

  10. It feels like Gunn wanted to put his all into what now looks to be his last MCU movie. I really liked one of the touches towards the end, where having established that once you had developed a family bond with Groot, you could understand him, Gunn finally let the audience know we’re Groot’s family too.

    Now Gunn goes to work on pulling the DC Movies out of a tailspin. And honestly, I hope he works it out. (So long as they work out the WGA Strike first that is!)

  11. I was prepared to cry. But I thought characters were going to be killed off. I was so overwhelmed by all the emotions evoked – anger, fear, joy, sadness. Ultimately it took the story where it needed to go, set up the new team. I had my hopes for certain situations but they didn’t pan out.

  12. I really enjoyed it. Nice conclusion for the gang. Whatever comes next, sure I’m open to it. But watching their 3 main movies and the other MCU films with them, felt very satisfying story-wise.

  13. In addition to all the other feels, something that resembles an actual miracle: I ended up liking Quill by the end of the movie. I honestly did not think that would ever happen.

    Someone really deserves an award for that.

  14. The first GotG came out when people online were still mad about the grimdark dark grimness of Man of Steel. So many people were talking about how bright and fun that first Guardians movie was.

    But that movie opened with scene where a little boy is at his dying mother’s bedside.

    Then it quickly moves to a scene where Quill is dancing to upbeat music, but he’s doing it in the ruins of a destroyed city. His holographic map even shows the ghostly forms of the now-dead occupants. Families with children.

    There was a lot of darkness in those GotG movies from the very start.

  15. Haven’t seen any of the GOTG movies, so no opinion there. But I loved Ragnarok and Love and Thunder. De gustibus…

  16. First MCU movie I wanted to rewatch in the theatre since the first Black Panther movie.

    Helped a lot that there was some competence porn to go along with the humor (some of which is undeniably on the juvenile side). And it also helps that it shares with the other Guardians movies an antagonist that is absolutely irredeemable and evil, making the Guardians the definite good guys.

  17. Thank you! I’ve read several conflicting reviews, but yours gives me the best basis so far for deciding to see the movie.

  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I make it a practice to ignore reviews & social media once I decide to see a movie — I want to go in with as few preconceptions as possible. My naive self just liked it.

    Guardians spent time on plot lines & continuity with the previous films & other Marvel products that I simply don’t care about, but it also give us plenty to think about. The messages might be heavy-handed but hey, it’s just a comic book for cryin’ out loud!

    Sometimes when a director draws circles and arrows around a film’s “big message” I get offended. But when Rocky calls the Evolutionary out on his BS, it felt unforced and authentic. Also, Chukwudi Iwuji delivered a stellar performance and I’ll be checking out his other film & television work.

  19. Have you seen Quantumania yet? That was bad too. OK, maybe not as bad as Thor LAT.

  20. Here it’s 14A where 1&2 were both PG, so we did not take our kid (8) to see it in theatre. We will wait for streaming so a parent can watch it first then decide for ourselves. She really enjoyed 1&2, but we also know her limits and need to see why this movie has a stricter rating.

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