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The Guardians Ride High into a Final Sunset

"We'll all fly away together... one last time... into the forever and beautiful sky."

The first Guardians film hit theaters as an underdog. The Little Movie that Could, starring characters you've never heard of.

The MCU was in bad shape. Thor 2. Iron Man 2. I believed the franchise was headed for the toilet, especially when I heard the newest film was a collection of nobodies from the back pages of the most obscure comics in Marvel history. What were they thinking?

But instead of being the final nail in the MCU's coffin, Guardians of the Galaxy brought the franchise back to life, and Volume 3 ends on its highest note.

My favorite comic book character is Adam Warlock, the most impressive guy in the galaxy. Warlock's held the Infinity Stones and given them away, happy to step down from godhood. He's the one you call when you need someone to beat up Thanos. Adam can call a meeting with the universe's most powerful beings and sass them all back to eternity.

Someone that invincible sounds boring, but his inability to truly save the universe from itself makes him melancholy. Depressed. Adam Warlock fights the biggest fights in the history of comics, but his inability to feel any sense of victory makes his stories uniquely compelling. Plus, you know when he shows up that something huge is going to happen.

How do you translate a guy like that into a movie?

Adam Warlock famously lives in a cocoon. He regenerates in there when he needs to, but I think everyone knows he just likes to hide from people. And it's also where he was born. Like a womb, the cocoon sustained him while forming him into a perfect being.

But... what if someone let him out too early?

Oops. Now we have a reckless and all-powerful being ripping through the universe, and, of all people, he's set his golden sights on our beloved Rocket.

Some die-hards are going to be disappointed that Adam Warlock isn't important to the plot, but it's obvious he's being prepped for a larger role. Will he try to purge himself of evil and bring about a certain doom, like in the comics? There's some Sistine Chapel-esque foreshadowing that just might be preparing us for his next steps, but who knows.

There's a lot going on in Volume 3. Rocket Raccoon's backstory is finally revealed, and be sure to bring a tissue because it's a tear-jerker. Peter is drinking himself to death over the loss of Gamora. Nebula, who is the new team mom (I love her story arc) is up to her cybernetic eyeballs in other people's problems. Drax is starting to realize that he's not much of a destroyer. The list goes on. Everyone's feeling a little scattered.

And the movie itself feels a little scattered. While the main narrative thrust is the Guardians trying to take down the High Evolutionary, who's killing people by the billions in an effort to build a perfect society, every character is on a separate track of their own. This might make the movie seem disconnected at times, but James Gunn knows what he's doing.

Gunn has made it clear that "found family" is the theme of these flicks, and Volume 3 shows us how much our lives can be changed when we let our friends carry us through the hard times. Nebula is ready to carry Peter when he's had too much to drink. Drax is ready to build healthy friendships. Rocket is ready to face his past. These people are nothing like the characters we met nine years ago. The journey has been good to them, and to us.

In a day when fashionable TV and movie writers are way too cool for satisfying conclusions, and producers greedily refuse to allow anything to end, its refreshing to see James Gunn tie an inspiring bow around the journey of our favorite Marvel family.

Final Analysis: The Guardians are our found family, and we're better off for having them in our lives. Five out of five confusing wrist pad buttons.

Adam D. Jones is an author and film lover who can't figure out what thing is on Adam Warlock's forehead.


  1. Watched this yesterday. An absolutely brilliant film, and a perfect conclusion to the Guardians story.

    It is however the most uncomfortable watch in the MCU thus far. The humour is much more muted and some of the violence / gore will make you squirm, in a way that hasn't happened since the Daredevil / punisher shows. There was also one particular repeated line that made me feel queasy every time I thought of it for hours after the film. If you've got kids under 12, I'd be wary about letting them see this, even if they enjoyed the previous films.

  2. Saw this last night and would have to say it’s immediately a Top 5 MCU film for me. The last few films have not done much for me, ranging from ok to just not good at all - looking at you Love & Thunder - but this one had me grinning from ear to ear as we reached the conclusion. James Gunn clearly knows…and loves, these characters, and it shows throughout this film.

    The growth of each of the Guardians is wonderful to see, but in particular I have loved Nebula’s arc, and it paid off wonderfully here. She’s become one of my favorites in the MCU. On the villain side, Chukwudi Iwuji’s portrayal of the High Evolutionary was wonderful, probably the best villain in recent MCU history.

    It’s darker and more emotional than the first two, sure. It’s a little hard to notice the humor at first. I found myself realizing after the fact a few times that a line before was actually quite funny because I was so invested in the moment, but the humor is there…and often. I think for many, a second viewing will bring that out more. That we’re focused on the danger in the moment is a testament to how much we have come to love these characters. I’m happy that James Gunn does too, and sent them off with such a great final chapter.


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