Guardians of the Galaxy – Volume 3

There’s a theme going around social media these days that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finished. There are, I think, legitimate reasons for thinking this: major stars wanting out, Jonathan Majors turning out to be an awful human being. But it doesn’t follow that all of the new content will be rubbish. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has had some pretty terrible reviews. I don’t understand why.

Obviously there is the whole StarLord-Gamora thing. Gamora was murdered by Thanos in the Infinity War sequence, but then came back after the Blip with no memory of what had gone on during that period. Peter Quill is a pain at the best of times, but a lovesick Peter Quill is not a pretty sight.

That apart, the film has a legitimate message. The main villain is the High Evolutionary, who is basically a Marvel version of Doctor Moreau with the identifying marks filed off. That is, he’s a eugenicist. He wants to use the power of evolution to create perfect people to inhabit a perfect world. So he happens to start with species other than humans: so what? It is the same idiot idea.

We find all this out because early on in the story Rocket is seriously injured and the team can’t cure him because of a mysterious device implanted in his body preventing the use of modern surgical techniques. So they have to find the person who uplifted him. Guess who?

The plot revolves around the idea that, far in the past, Rocket was the High Evolutionary’s only success. He’s not just intelligent, he’s super-smart (though he hides that from the team most of the time). Of course, being an arrogant human male, the High Evolutionary didn’t welcome Rocket as a potential colleague. Instead he wanted to take Rocket’s brain apart to see what made him such a good experimental subject.

By the time our heroes get involved, the High Evolutionary has begun experimenting on human children. Naturally they want to rescue the kids. Rocket has to make the point that all of the other species that the High Evolutionary has held captive are victims too, and are just as deserving as rescue. So there’s your moral arc. It might be hedged around with super hero silliness (and the Guardians films are more comedic than most of the MCU), but it is a valid argument and I expect to see academic papers written about it for conferences on animal rights.

This being the third film in the series, things will now change. Jim Gunn has gone off to helm the DC movie universe. Quill has decided to try to grow up (though apparently we will get a whole film of him doing so – sigh). And Mantis, having finally shown how amazingly powerful she is, is also going off to find herself. Drax (obviously) and Nebula (!) decide to look after the rescued children. And we get a new Guardians team led by Rocket.

The team has a number of new members. Kraglin finally manages to master the use of Yondu’s whistle-arrow during the film, so is now much more useful to the team, and with him comes Cosmo the Space Dog. One of the children turns out to be Phyla (Quasar?), though probably not the Phyla-Vell of the comics as she’s not obviously Kree and the Mar-Vell of the film doesn’t appear to have had children. And finally we have Adam Warlock.

As you may recall, Adam was created by the Sovereign as a weapon against the Guardians, but he was hatched out of his cocoon early and is still basically a child, albeit one with enough power to give Carol Danvers a run for her money. This film sees him do a lot of growing up. Despite being 2.5 hours long, it didn’t really have time to do that story justice, which is a shame. So I hope we get to see the new Guardians again at some point so that the character can be explored in more detail.

I did enjoy the bit at the end where the new Guardians were discussing their favourite Earth music. Being a fan of Adrian Belew is so very Adam. If there is an Adam Warlock solo movie it should have an entirely prog rock soundtrack.

There is one further thing to look forward to. Much as I would like to avoid any further mention of Peter Quill, he does, in the comics, for some utterly inexplicable reason, end up in a relationship with Kitty Pride. That brings in the X-Men at last. And possibly even Lockheed.