The second Marvel film of 2023, as well as the second part of Phase 5 of the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, has been a much-anticipated chapter in Marvel’s continuing saga and, with a generally underwhelming reaction from audiences to their recent films, they are looking to Marvel’s most significant underdogs to reinvigorate the enthusiasm for superhero movies.
From returning Writer/Director James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 picks up from where we last saw the Guardians (assuming you’ve seen the Holiday Special on Disney+), where they have set up shop on Knowhere and are running the community. The third instalment features the return of favourites Chris Pratt and Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Sean Gunn as Kraglin and the voice talents of Bradley Cooper as Rocket and Vin Diesel as a more buff Groot.
In addition to the main cast, expect a return of a number of characters through the Guardians franchise. The newest additions to the series include British Actor Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner) as the powerful Adam Warlock and Chukwudi Iwuji (John Wick: Chapter 2, Peacemaker), playing The High Evolutionary. You can also expect a high volume of cameos in the film; some you’ve seen in past films, some you haven’t and at least one that you won’t see coming.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 takes on a fairly sad tone at the onset to set you up for the story.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 takes on a fairly sad tone at the onset to set you up for the story. We get the opportunity to learn about some of the characters’ previously untold backstories while others continue to deal with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. These tones are not new to the Guardians series, particularly some of the heartbreak from volume 2, but there seems to be a long build-up to the fun that Star-Lord and company are so well-known for.
All of the wonderful chemistry of the previous two films is as present as ever in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The usual pairings of Drax/Mantis and Quill/Gamora bring big laughs to the screen. Still, every actor is given a chance to shine on screen, and as each cast member stepped up to the plate, they knocked it out of the park. Karen Gillan’s Nebula takes on a much more significant role in this film and pulls off an MVP performance. Sean Gunn’s sympathetic turn as Ravager, Kraglin has continued to grow into his own and is a character you cannot help but root for.
As for our new cast, Will Poulter’s turn as the Sovereign’s Adam Warlock feels like a departure from what you may know from the comics but has given the character so much room to grow within the MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s Adam Warlock is a bit more stunted than the character that was teased in Vol. 2’s post-credit scene, but it has given Poulter a chance to really make the role his own. His comedic, child-like performance is a delight, despite him being a foil for the Guardians.
“Karen Gillan’s Nebula takes on a much bigger role in this film and pulls off an MVP performance.”
The real stand-out in the film, however, is Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary, a scientist who is focused on creating a more perfect world by creating a more perfect species. Iwuji chews every last square inch of the scenery, be it practical or virtual. His larger-than-life performance is perfect for a Guardians of the Galaxy film. While the character of the High Evolutionary is fairly single-minded in his motives and goals, every second he spends on screen is a gift to the film.
As the antagonists to the Guardians, Adam Warlock and The High Evolutionary do sometimes feel separated from our heroes with so many other things going on. The story of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 really belongs to Rocket Raccoon, whose past is directly tied to the superhero team’s future.
The finality of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is felt throughout the movie with the knowledge that James Gunn has moved on to run the DCEU as well as other actors saying they wouldn’t return in future movies (although I know better than to say never). The characters are allowed to say an organic goodbye to the fans without letting it distract the overall story. I couldn’t honestly tell you that a tear or two weren’t shed towards the end of the movie.
The movie releases this Friday, May 5th, in theatres. Make sure to stick around during the credits, not unlike any other MCU film, to get a last piece of the story and a big surprise.