James Gunn’s Marvel Farewell Blinded Us All to the Real Problems Lurking in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3′

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 has finally joined Marvel City on Disney Plus. Yay! Right? Eh, no, because with it comes a disheartening awareness. 

Excitedly re-watching the film opened my eyes to the hornet’s nest of disappointments hiding in plain sight that went unnoticed at the time of the sequel’s release. The woes of James Gunn’s seemingly forever Marvel farewell acted as default rosy-tinted glasses, effectively hiding how Vol. 3 is hardly the “best Marvel film.”

It doesn’t have a strong plot, just an exploitative emotional hook

Photo via Marvel Studios

The Guardians, on their own, were hardly living in obscurity before and their banding together stripped away that last thin layer of anonymity any one of them sparingly had. And yet, it took the High Evolutionary decades to find Rocket? And then, he assigns the task to capture him, his golden ticket, to his least resourceful employees? Doesn’t sound like a solid storyline now, does it?

Well, it won’t, because Gunn’s aim was to exploit the biggest soft point ever — our by-default reaction when we see an animal getting tortured. Now, I am strictly talking about the people whose hearts twist into a tight knot when they see Instagram reels of animals being abandoned, recovering from former injuries, or finding a new home. 

Rocket’s backstory would have been enough, but Gunn went overboard with the cruel depiction here that went from baby Racoon getting brutally experimented on, his friends being gunned down just when freedom was so close, to the unexpected annihilation of the entire Animen population of Counter-Earth. He was confident that with these scenes tugging at our heartstrings, we will be unaware of Vol. 3’s shortcomings, and boy was he right.

An MCU hero has to have a love angle, even if the alternate version of his dead former girlfriend is still around

Star-Lord and Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Photo via Marvel Studios

At this point, Quill’s storyline including his healing from losing Gamora and getting back on his feet should have sufficed. But Vol. 3 saw subtle tones of Nebula (of all people) harboring a crush for Star-Lord, an unexpected development that has been confirmed by Karen Gillan as well. It is Captain America and Sharon Carter (Peggy’s great-niece) all over again. 

An all-powerful ambitious villain no one has ever heard of

high evolutionary
Photo via Marvel Studios

High Evolutionary is certainly not a baddie like Thanos, who believed in sneaky attack plans while he remained in the shadows, unwilling to reveal that he has been the mastermind all along. Our Obnoxiously Loud Evolutionary here is a man of theatrics and grand gestures, like blowing up an entire planet — the whispers of his dramatic antics not preceding his eventual appearance feel like a plot hole, when being cautious is not in his rulebook.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Confessions of a Twitchy Drama Queen

guardians of the galaxy vol. 3 high evolutionary
Photo via Marvel Studios

Because there is no other way to define the over-the-top Shakespearean performance of Chukwudi Iwuji. Don’t get me wrong, I love Iwuji and he was phenomenal in Peacemaker, if we just talk about comic book adaptations. But all the screaming, exaggerated theatrics, and drama only succeeded in giving me a headache that I am still dealing with. 

His cruelly hurting and killing animals while manipulating them was already way more than enough to prove his evil status; Gunn going full-on Kang the Conqueror on him and giving him melodramatic monologues was just overkill, mate. He was more Unnecessary Shakespearean Wannabe than High Evolutionary.

Adam Warlock

adam warlock guardians of the galaxy vol. 3
Photo via Marvel Studios

Need I say more? Gunn’s depiction of the character and his inclusion in a film that was overflowing with sub-plots already fell flat when the film was released. Watching it again definitely doesn’t do Adam any favors.

It was just James Gunn’s Marvel swan song, not the jigsaw puzzle piece of Phase 5

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Disney Plus
Photo via Marvel Studios

Vol. 3 was Gunn’s farewell and perhaps the last time we saw a few Guardians, but at the end of the day, it needed to tie into the larger MCU and it didn’t. It is perhaps the most disconnected Marvel film we have seen so far, especially since they are part of the original timeline. The plot adds nothing to the ongoing overarching storyline, barely solves existing mysteries of Phase Five, nor does it further its stagnant state in any significant way, exactly like Secret Invasion. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is good — so you better figure out how to watch it in the best way — but not the usual James Gunn “good,” as it falls victim to the glaring Marvel pitfalls that have been keeping the stuck-in-crisis cinematic universe’s head under murky waters.

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