Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ★★★★

Don't let the fact that this film is good distract you from the reality that it ends with a big dance party like it's a Minions movie.

The post-Endgame MCU has been flailing around like a chicken with its head cut off, constantly changing direction and tone while spewing out endless new properties while nobody seems able to decide what the franchise is supposed to be. Once the stakes have been raised, there's a multiverse around every corner, and have dabbled with serious loss, is it possible to put the genie back in the bottle (so the genie can continuously be monetized)? James Gunn proves that it can, that stories don't have to lose their intimacy and charm now even as most stories deal with intergalactic threats.

Gunn's greatest talent is his ability to develop stories that balance the sincerity with charm, but even the basic storytelling competency makes Guardians 3 feel like an unparalleled masterpiece compared to other recent superhero stories; character arcs run their full course, there's original worldbuilding instead of nostalgia-bait, and we wrap around to throwaway gags instead of sticking to one-line zingers. I'd actually suggest that the story in this iteration is a bit weaker than the previous two entries, given the frequent backstory flashbacks that are needed to reinforce the motivation for our main characters, but between the solid story and the welcome return of a group that feels like an off-color extended family, Guardians 3 is still far and away the best post-Endgame MCU feature film.

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