MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, May 5th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the end of an era.
This weekend, fans head to theaters for one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. Here’s WORLD arts and culture editor Collin Garbarino to talk about the finale of one of Marvel Studios’ most popular sagas.
COLLIN GARBARINO: Ten years ago, director James Gunn took some of Marvel’s most obscure comic book characters and turned them into a box office phenomenon with Guardians of the Galaxy. These roguish space cowboys became one of the most popular franchises within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Gunn recently took a job at Marvel’s rival DC Studios, so Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 will be his last movie for Marvel. But with it, he gives his heroic group of rag-tag misfits an emotionally satisfying send off.
The whole gang’s back for the trilogy’s finale. Peter Quill, once again played by Chris Pratt, pines after Gamora, once again played by Zoe Saldana.
PETER: And maybe. Maybe if you open yourself up to it, there’s a possibility—
GAMORA: I don’t think so, Quinn.
Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, and Vin Diesel are also back as Nebula, Drax, Mantis, and an adolescent Groot.
PETER: But what I’m trying to say —
MANTIS: Peter, you know this is an open line, right?
MANTIS: We’re listening to everything you’re saying.
DRAX: And it is painful.
PETER: And you’re just telling me now?
NEBULA: We were hoping it would stop on its own.
All the characters get their moments—but this movie is all about the galaxy’s favorite raccoon, Rocket, again voiced by Bradley Cooper.
ROCKET: Someday, I’m going to make great machines that fly. And me and my friends are going to go flying together. Into the forever and beautiful sky.
In the first Guardians movie, the team came together to save a planet. Then in the second, they had to save the universe. This time the stakes are a little lower, but more personal. The Guardians of the Galaxy fight to save one of their own.
NEBULA: You left out some important information, but that is the gist of it.
Their enemy is The High Evolutionary, an immoral eugenicist who plays god by tinkering with living beings.
THE HIGH EVOLUTIONARY: I’m not trying to conquer the universe. I’m perfecting it.
The earlier films were silly romps, and like them Vol. 3 has plenty of swagger and quippy jokes.
DRAX: And we’ll kill anyone who gets in our way!
PETER: We will not kill anyone.
DRAX: Kill a few people.
PETER: Kill no people.
DRAX: Kill one guy. One stupid guy who nobody loves.
PETER: Now you’re just making it sad.
But a sense of finality looms over the film, and from the beginning, it evokes a melancholic tone. It’s not necessarily a darker movie, just sadder, and some fans won’t be prepared for the goofy Guardians franchise turning into a bit of a tear-jerker.
Speaking of preparation, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe sprawling across 30 movies and eight TV shows, moviegoers increasingly need to know how much background is necessary to enjoy the show. Thankfully, this film manages to ignore the last four years of Marvel movies, so all that’s needed is to have seen the previous two Guardians movies and be familiar with the events of Avengers: Endgame.
PETER: She was my girlfriend. Only she doesn’t remember it because it wasn’t her, because her dad threw her off a magic cliff and she died and I lost my temper and nearly destroyed half the universe.
The movie is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some strong language on par with the previous installments. But the movie scores points with me by sticking to its own story rather than setting up future installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s a real sense of closure.
ROCKET: I’m done running.
James Gunn’s Catholic upbringing haunts Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He incorporates some religious visuals, though it’s not always easy to know what’s intended by them. Christian themes also show up in the script: We see love, sacrifice, and forgiveness, as well as the value and dignity of life.
The movie has its faults though. It’s a little too long and thematically doesn’t break much new ground. Each of the three films features a bad father figure and explores the consequences of broken families. But we also see the joys of adoptive families and close community.
PETER: Drax, stay here with Rocket. Watch him. That’s who they’re coming for.
DRAX: I want to come.
PETER: No. Mantis, watch Drax.
Those looking for the fast-paced nostalgia-driven humor of earlier movies might not enjoy this one. Despite plenty of old-school needle drops, Vol. 3 suggests our obsession with the past isn’t healthy. Peter tries to recapture an idealized version of the past, and Rocket tries to forget it. Neither can become whole until they’ve moved on.
But there’s a sadness to moving on, and the audience will be left with a bitter-sweet ache as James Gunn says goodbye to these old friends.
I’m Collin Garbarino
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