Light Spoiler Alert
Say it ain’t so, but James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is most likely it for fans of this series. Controversies aside, I’ve admired what he can imagine! Without him as the storyteller, it’s doubtful that any future appearances and reasons for them to continue will be up to snuff. As for how I feel about the MCU as a whole, it hasn’t been as exciting since the build-up to a universal is multi-fold rather than unilateral. Thankfully, his series is self-contained and doesn’t allude to what else is happening in Earth-616. An article written by Ben Collins for The Collider clarifies the confusion in terms of where all the different films from Sony, Fox, and Disney/Marvel exist in.
Here, the focus is on saving Rocket’s life (voiced by Bradley Cooper) following an attack by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), and along the way, they realise that each member of the Guardians team has issues. What’s said by mid-film sadly foreshadows the end. Anyone who followed the production knew this was coming. But they can’t split until after they deal with The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). They learn about everything he’s done to turn the raccoon to what he is, a gruff but brilliant engineer.
I was introduced to this nemesis when he faced the X-Men rather than Avengers. Technically, The Evolutionary War took place in all corners of the Marvel Comics universe, and I paid attention to his conflict with the X-Men since I wondered if he created the gene that made some people mutants. But alas, that is not the case. When considering a Counter-Earth exists, where everyone there sees The High Evolutionary as god, there’s a possibility his purpose in the MCU is not over.
This version is far better than what I recall from the books. He’s even more menacing than this universe’s version of the Grandmaster. After rewatching Thor: Ragnarök, I came to realise this take is very ill defined. He was more comic than machiavellian. Unless these cinematic threats sell themselves as sinister, it’s hard to treat them as evil. Thanos can go toe to toe with The High Evolutionary because how they abuse their children is nasty. What’s shown in a piece of fiction hits close to home, and they’re forgetting the tale follows a similar path as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Rocket’s backstory draws from this novel, and it’s easy to notice the parallels.
As for why this scientist visited Earth and cultivated specimens, I’m even more curious. Just why this world is often picked on needs to be explained. Although Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. try to protect this world like grandparents, sometimes the past lets a lot of things slip by before this organisation was formed. And if we’re supposed to get answers (I’m still wondering about the huge land mass known as Tiamut from The Eternals), fans will have to wait for a movie for the next reveal. On the movie slate, The Marvels is the most logical choice to connect the dots when concerning the Marvel Cosmic Universe.
Elsewhere, Adam Warlock’s story isn’t as milked as much as I’d hoped. He’s a powerful entity who is also being pushed around. Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) is still after The Guardians, and is pushing her “son” around just like Rocket. The juxtapositions between him and the raccoon reveal that it’s best to escape the mad scientists. He’s a very underutilised character who deserves more focus, and hopefully he has an ongoing role in the MCU than just appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. I believe he has the strength of Hercules.
What this film does is to show how some characters have finally found courage to face their past, or shape their future after everything they’ve learned while together. It’s always been about family than being a team, and that note is the perfect send off.
The additional elements this filmmaker adds are left for others to play with. It’s a shame; I believe Gunn’s vision is far better than any blueprint Kevin Feige can dream up, should he be willing to continue. And if any spin-offs can happen, I’d be all for it! Chris Pratt‘s open to returning as long as the right story is presented to him. Even Karen Gillian, whose character has really developed since the first, expressed interest. To not see them again will be tough. When alt-Gamora fought together with them, that’s when I cheered the most. I’d rather hope she and Quill go through the motions of courtship rather than to assume all is lovey dovey.
At least what’s presented is absolutely like the comic book. My idea might work. When considering other versions of this character exist, it’d be a copout to unite Quill with another version just for that happy Disney ending.
4 Stars out of 5