The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has been an enigma in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first non-Avengers IP introduced in the MCU is ,approaching its third installment and many believe this is the last ride for the current Guardians group. Director James Gunn has created a new brand of superhero movies with his vibrant combination of humor, emotion, and music.
It seems Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may be on track to be the biggest one yet.
Guardians have traditionally been independent of the greater MCU story outside the Infinity Saga-ending events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. However, the Guardians have an appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder right around the corner, and a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on the way. So, with the third chapter of the trilogy coming in May 2023, Gunn seems to be gearing up for his last ride with Marvel Studios.
The cast members of the original Guardians roster seem to carry the same sense of finality heading into Volume 3. While it is essential to tie a bow on this era of the cosmic cabinet, it is just as important to live up to the franchise's expectations. Many Marvel fans consider Guardians their comfort franchise with the humor and heart that come with it. Not to mention the stunning visuals, hall of fame level soundtracks, and impact on the Cosmic Branch of the MCU.
The early word from the people closest to the project is that Volume 3 is ready to live up to the expectations.
James Gunn's Masterpiece for Guardians 3
In a recent interview for his new series, The Terminal List, Guardians leading man Chris Pratt told Digital Spy that James Gunn told him Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the "best work [they] have ever done:"
"It's fantastic. James Gunn just watched a rough assembly the other day. I called him yesterday. We Facetimed, and he's very, very proud of the work that everyone's done. He said it's the best work all of us have ever done. He feels very, very confident. The script was amazing,"
Pratt continues to talk about the importance of having James Gunn behind the camera every step of the way with this Guardians trilogy. Saying that consistency and guidance have resulted in a "masterpiece:"
"And I can say with utter confidence that he's made a true masterpiece, and I just cannot wait for people to see it. It's James Gunn. He did all three movies, which is really rare and really special in the world of big box-office trilogies,"
Gunn will join Jon Watts as the only two directors to direct all three movies of a trilogy in the MCU.
The overall vibe of this movie is a swan song for James Gunn and this iteration of the Guardians. The future of the IP is uncertain, but it looks like if Gunn, Pratt, and others are going out with this one, they are going out with a bang.
So We're Saving The Galaxy Again?
July 2012 was a special time for Marvel Studios. Fresh off the underdog success of The Avengers, they proved that they could take non-X-Men and non-Spider-Man IPs and not only succeed but change the genre landscape. Then, at San Diego Comic-Con, Feige and his team announced that the Guardians of the Galaxy would be the next Marvel Comics title to grace the big screen.
The majority of fans responded with one word that ended up becoming a catchphrase of the franchise... "Who?"
At the time, the Guardians of the Galaxy were D-Level Marvel heroes at best. Many believed this was a sign of Marvel Studios getting too cocky with their lead over competitors. They had a massively successful Avengers franchise accompanied by Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor franchises, all due for sequels within the next two years ahead of an Avengers sequel. They could have brought in more Earth-bound heroes like Ant-Man, road the success of their current roster, and probably call it a day.
But just like they did with Phase 1 of the MCU, they took a risk. They gave an unknown IP to a director mostly known for his cult-classic underground projects and said, "go make something awesome." And that he did.
The Guardians of the Galaxy have built a name for themselves within and beyond the MCU. Many points to the impact these two movies have had on music and the resurgence of '70s and '80s pop music. For example, the soundtrack to Volume 1 and 2 are in the top 50 highest-selling albums of the past decade, with Volume 1 being number 4 on the list. And some people, including the person writing this article, walked down the aisle to "Come and Get Your Love" at their weddings.
But beyond the pop-culture phenomenon the first two movies have become, they are also widely regarded as top-tier Marvel Studios products. In today's MCU, with new series and films being released at a rate hitherto undreamt of, expectations are at an all-time high.
The support of his cast is nothing new for James Gunn. After experiencing just that in his DCEU debut with 2021's The Suicide Squad, he is also no stranger to loft expectations. And he was even able to prove he could capitalize on the moment with the follow-up series Peacemaker. If nothing else, Gunn has shown he can give one of the MCU's most enigmatic franchises a proper sendoff.
Guardians Vol. 1 was a trailblazer that changed the way popcorn movies were made moving forward. Guardians Vol. 2 shows that Vol. 1 was no fluke, and there are more stories to be told. Now all eyes point to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, to live up to the expectations of a six-year gap waiting on the next great soundtrack, the next scenes that makes everyone cry, and the final chapter of James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy.