It begins with Radiohead’s “Creep” and for the last of the four, five, six final battles, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys thunders out of the Imax speakers. This describes very precisely the thematic and emotional framework in which James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3” – the conclusion of the trilogy – moves. It’s about outsiders and their fragile friendships, hubris and melancholy, lustful violence and destructiveness, being different and mindful and that in the end murder and manslaughter could be an important part of the solution.
Well, that’s somehow the case in every film of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, that desert comic world that has become cinematic and bursts every color and imagination spectrum, which always wanted to be understood as a great moral fable and a mirror of society: Superheroes are only human, gods can Wanting to do good while causing the worst, no one is enough of an outsider not to carry the spark of the ultimate hero.
In recent appearances, the franchise has slipped away a bit. The latest adventure of “Dr. Strange” was just, well, weird. The TV series “She-Hulk” and “Ms Marvel” hit with annoying pandering to diversity, migration and colonial victims. The movie “Wakanda Forever” was a moral club forged in prehistoric feminism (women are ALWAYS good, men are ALWAYS stupid), against which Thor’s Mjölnir is the reflex hammer of a children’s orthopedic surgeon. “Thor: Love and Thunder” by professional chaos Taika Waititi proved that woke with a joke is possible. But suddenly all comic nerds found him stupid. Because it was too comical. Understand the Marvelians.
“Guardians 3” has to fix it now. In production for what feels like a decade, director Gunn fired in between for ancient jokes, then postponed because of Corona, the film is for Marvel what its protagonists are for the galaxy: world saviors. And, first of all: it will be him. Because a film that manages to move adults to tears when a vengeful cyborg raccoon kisses a ferret whose front legs have been replaced by metal arms with shovel hands in a near-death experience can be trusted to do anything.
Yes, the third part is very much about Rocket, the rough-and-tumble sensitive raccoon with the big gun fetish. We learn how he became what he is, half machine, half Procyon Iotor, and how he finally comes to terms with it and finally bears the name we know from the comics: Rocket Raccoon. Yes, this is a negotiation of identity politics and empowerment, but very different and much more elegant than you have ever seen in all Bridgertoniads and Euphoria series. With all the banging and flashing, despite all the exploding space stations and kamikaze course flying fighters, the endless mutant corps that have to be dealt with and bullies that have to be finalized or converted; So with all the incredible popcorn action, the last “Guardians” film is above all a dialogue spectacle.
There and less through action (i.e. tell, don’t show) the characters are developed and their respective purifications and fates are introduced. Like the impossible love between Drax the Destroyer (who becomes Drax the Father) and Mantis the Empath who becomes more confident from scene to scene. The great cycle of the trilogy, Peter Quill’s search for peace with his origins, is also dealt with in the spoken word. Even the Soviet space dog “Cosmo” speaks out and fights against the attribution of being a “bad dog”.
The scenes in which cuddly toys, disfigured by experiments into bizarre semi-machines, fantasize about the reward for their torment and philosophize about friendship – and that too in cute squeaky voices – are the most impressively emotional, authentic and cleverest moments in the history of film dolls since Peter Jackson’s last really good film , “Meet The Feebles”. Because the dialogues are correct.
We know from the two predecessors that they can also be incredibly funny. And this humor is bitter and evil, no relatives are made and urgently needed firefights are often interrupted to clarify what a metaphor or an allegory is. Gunn then allows himself to simply pause the action – like Tarantino did in Pulp Fiction.
The plot? Is told quickly. Rocket, wounded in battle but inoperable due to an implanted kill button, traumatises his origin story while the companions search for the cyborg raccoon’s blueprints. This requires visiting this and that place, talking to the odd villain or informant, until the troupe finally discovers who they are actually messing with: Evolution.
As is common in the Marvel Universe, each abstract has human (-like) shapes and weaknesses. The development of life is a blue-skinned giant with a plan. The father/creator of Rocket – like Thanos (father of Guardian half-time Nebula), like Ego (father of Guardian captain Quill), everything is also family history – really only wanted the best and became a monster as a result. Because as soon as a race created in an experiment or even an entire populated planet does not meet expectations, evolution strikes cruelly and destroys the supposedly weak. Incidentally, this also includes the “Sovereign”, the super villain people from the second part. And Rocket and his friends. And the population of a “counter-earth”.
Evolution is cruel. “My God,” one of the henchmen moans in her moment of realization and just before the mutiny.
“There is no God,” says evolution. “That’s why I stepped in.”
What a sentence.
After press screenings, there are always survey women standing around in the foyer who are supposed to capture the first voices and moods. For the promo or whatever.
“How did you like the film?” I am asked and, still under the impression of two and a half hours of frontal attack on my heart, body and mind, I stutter: “Good”.
The young woman, round horn-rimmed glasses, bomber jacket, round Wallace wool hat, carefully types the answer into her iPad.
“Who are they writing for?”
“And do you have any suggestions for improvement?”
“Like, for the movie?”
I don’t think they would have seriously remade the film, or cast it differently, or reedit it, even if I had come up with something particularly clever.
It isn’t. So I said “no”.
PS: All the actors are great, especially Chris Pratt (Quill). And Karen Gillan (Nebula) and David Bautista (Drex). But also Pom Klementiff (Mantis) and Zoe Saldana (Gamora). Especially Vin Diesel (Groot) and Bradley Cooper (Rocket), who can’t even be seen yet. And certainly Margot Robbie too, but I somehow missed her.