Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ★★★½

The Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, for all their faults, are the only Marvel movies I could give a shit about, precisely because of Gunn’s innate ability to hum along in the same collective key as Wally Wood, Jim Steranko, George Pérez, Jack Kirby (Captain, my Captain), Steve Ditko, Louise and Walt Simonson, Gil Kane, Jim Starlin (the Starlin is strong here), Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, et al.

That is to say, Gunn singularly knows what makes the sci-fi side of the Marvel Universe sing. He gets the absolutely batshit nature of it all. To this day Marvel movies keep trying to legitimize, modernize, and reinterpret the creatively bold ramshackle vibe that Marvel comics built over the Golden, Silver, and Bronze ages, and the other movies mostly suck because of it.

Also, full disclosure, any Space Opera that isn’t Star Wars automatically has value in my book. (Ironically, because of how Star Wars rewired my brain in 1977, but also because of the huge influence Star Trek had over my family and household.) If I had my way the world would have lots of different Space Opera in it, Space Opera of all kinds, but then, I so rarely get my way.

It's true that very often Gunn’s banter slips from funny to tedious and his pop emotionalism can be egregious, but I did find myself crying over a CGI anthropomorphized raccoon, so who’s the asshole now?

I very seldom have patience for Gunn’s themes, but this one caught my eye, mostly because he stabbed me with it repeatedly. Still, I didn’t expect this movie to be a screed about exactly what it means to be a smart person. And that compassion and empathy have more intellectual value than disrupting shit and making new trash that the world has to contend with. I really dig that. I’m so fucking tired of being told I have to “admit” some people are “smart” just because they “revolutionized the car industry” or “managed to get the House Republicans to drift even further right” or because they know how to generate and horde wealth or because they managed to "invade Poland" or some other dumb fucking (harmful) shit.

This might have the best sci-fi production design I've seen since The Fifth Element.

I’m not in love with how Gunn did my boy Adam Warlock, here. I found a bunch of Jim Starlin’s run on Warlock from the 70s in a dime bin when I was, like, ten or so, and I really loved them. I read them until they fell apart. So now I've learned that I'm not impervious to nostalgic fanboy whinging.

Disney channel could've 100% had me on the hook for a TV series about Rocket, Lila, Teefs, and Floor going on adventures in outer space, but Gunn had to be an emotional edge lord and [spoiler]. As others have pointed out, there's some straight up WE3 theft going on here... bless them.

All in all, pretty good fun. Another big budget mainstream corporate product that brought me more joy than I thought it would. That seems to be a theme here as I catch up on 2023 releases.

Also, Space Opera that isn't Star Wars!

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