Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 came out in theaters on May 5th, and while the movie is not the best addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s better than most, certainly better than Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, there have been complaints about theater turnout, and these complaints are a testament to the damage movies like Multiverse of Madness have done to the Marvel brand. I’d say we have the Mouse to thank for that. The only consolation to this turn of events is that as the box office numbers for Marvel films continue to dwindle, so do the subscriptions to Disney Plus. I’ll take the victories where I can get them.
The Movie’s Tone Needs Amending
As for Guardians 3, I’d say the main issue is its tone. There have been some major character deaths in the Guardians movies, and it seems like the film simply doesn’t know how to deal with the degree of loss the surviving characters have endured and opts to gingerly dipping its toe into the subject of grief before quickly jumping away from the situation by throwing out a random joke that does nothing to relieve the tension. The movie has plenty of heartfelt moments to make up for this problem, but any scene where a character from a previous film is brought up feels sour.
But the plot itself is solid enough and does a good job wrapping up some loose threads that were left unaddressed ever since James Gunn’s ousting from the franchise. For those who don’t remember, James Gunn was one of the early victims of the cancel culture movement, the time when people were looking through celebrity’s old tweets, searching for anything controversial. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not James Gunn deserved to be fired, but the bottom line is that he’s back, and he means to finish what he started.
The movie opens with Rocket walking into a bar, listening to Peter Quill’s music. Peter is sitting at a table and begins scolding Rocket for taking the music player, but he is too drunk to complete his thought and passes out while standing up. Nebula takes Peter to his room and puts him in his bed. I will say that I appreciate the growth of Nebula’s character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s gone from one of the main villains to a de facto leader who takes care of the group since Peter is too depressed over Gamora’s death to be of much use.
As some of the characters begin discussing what they plan to do about Peter, Adam Warlock enters the scene, crashing into a building and snatching Rocket. A fight breaks out, and it becomes apparent that while Adam is very powerful, he’s also incredibly childish. Peter wakes from his stupor and joins the fray, and together, the Guardians are able to defeat Adam, forcing him to retreat; however, Rocket is seriously injured during the fight.
The Guardians have the technology to heal Rocket, but something is interfering with their tech. The group realizes that there is a device on Rocket’s heart designed to kill the raccoon should someone try to mess with his body. Peter decides the best thing to do is to go to the place where all of Rocket’s mechanical parts were manufactured, so they can find a way to bypass the device. Nebula enlists the help of the Ravagers, which reunites Peter with the “new” Gamora.
During The Infinity Saga, where Thanos attempted to wipe out half the universe, Gamora was killed, and a new Gamora was brought back from the past. Peter isn’t entirely sure how this happened, so he has a hard time dealing with this new Gamora’s presence, and here is where the movie really falters. James Gunn—who not only directed the movie but wrote the script—should’ve spent more time dealing with Peter and his relationship with both Gamoras; however, for some reason, he doesn’t. When Peter tries to address the situation by switching his space suit’s radio to a private channel so he can speak to this new Gamora, a joke is introduced which breaks up the flow of the scene. He begins expressing his feelings only to have the rest of the Guardians tell him they can hear what he’s saying and begin explaining to him how the buttons on his suit are supposed to work. The bit drags on for far too long, and it wasn’t funny to start with. It was as if James Gunn was simply unwilling to let such a serious moment linger. This is odd because he had no trouble allowing Rocket some heartfelt moments of closure for his past, but Peter gets no such break. I had a difficult time understanding this choice. It seems like the idea was to treat Peter’s pain as a joke, to make him something of a simpering fool, rather than the hero of the story. He’s allowed a few moments to shine throughout the movie, but for the most part, he’s either chided or mocked for daring to mourn.
Furthermore, there’s no real exploration into Nebula’s feelings about the situation. Not only did she lose her sister, but she watched a past version of herself die. To make matters worse, the movie shows Nebula lying to other characters, saying that this new Gamora is in fact the old Gamora only she has lost her memories. Seems like such circumstances ought to bring up a few conflicting emotions, but nothing of the sort is explored. It’s just another detail that causes the original Gamora’s death to feel meaningless and makes the movie seem shallow.
That being said, I did appreciate that James Gunn took an affirmative stance on Gamora’s personhood. He makes it clear that she is not the same Gamora who fell to her death during The Infinity Saga, but in taking this stance, he made the original Gamora’s death somewhat irritating. She wasn’t really allowed to have a moment to shine. Hers was not a noble death where she sacrifices herself for some cause or tries in vain to prevent something from happening. She was simply thrown off a cliff and that was the end of it. It made the relationship built between Gamora and Peter in the first two films somewhat pointless which makes the prior movies feel like a waste of time. At the very least, Peter should’ve been allowed a moment of closure.
Regardless, the new Gamora helps them into the space station that originally created Rocket’s parts, and we’ll cover what happens then in the next review.