The Good and the Bad: The Humanity Behind the Ending of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

At the heart of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 lies an experience we can all relate to



‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ has brought fans all over the world to tears. Be it your average die-hard comic book fan or your passionate animal rights supporter, you name it, they’ve cried. The latest from the mind of director and co-CEO of DC Studios James Gunn, the third and arguably final film of the series explores the once undisclosed origins of ‘Rocket Raccoon’ (Bradley Cooper) as the Guardians race against the clock to save their friend from the unhinged ‘High Evolutionary’ (Chukwudi Iwuji).

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ poster
‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ poster

The film has been a box office success thus far, grossing around $660 million worldwide. This puts it ahead of recent Marvel title Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and around $200 million behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Many did not expect the film to end the way that it did – the original group going their separate ways, leaving Rocket to lead a brand-new cast of growing heroes. It was after all the final Gunn-led Guardians film. “Who’s going to die?” It was a question that no doubt ran past the minds of everyone waiting for the movie’s release. And instead, we got the happy ending we did not expect, but sorely needed.

Rocket Raccoon and Groot
Rocket Raccoon and Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Marvel Studios

Looking back at ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’, there’s a lot to pick at in identifying the film and the entire series’ central message—be it with Rocket learning to live with what he had become, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) growing to become greater than the labels attached to them, or Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) coming to terms with letting go of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). At least from my perspective, that central point can be found within the film’s ending—the humanity behind it that we can all relate to.

Seemingly out of nowhere

Many including me were surprised with the direction Gunn went with in ending the film. Almost abruptly done and out of the blue, it seemed pretty random to me that the original cast simply decided to go their own ways. It was bittersweet, a spoiling of the festivities – delivering the bad news shortly after they had just saved the day. I was caught blindsided and I believed that this was Gunn’s way of shoehorning an ending that took various real-world situations into account – his time being up with Marvel, and the contracts of the likes of Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana coming to a close. But looking back at it, it did make sense.

Drax and Mantis
Drax and Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Marvel Studios

Ending the long and unwanted (?) fight

The guardians are comprised of very complex individuals. In a sense, they are reluctant heroes who are burdened by their own pasts and have chosen to set these aside to face the problem at hand. They have ridden along a wave and have just realized how much time has already passed—caught up in the heroics and the endless battles, they haven’t taken a look at what truly weighs them down. They have given so much to the galaxy, but have given themselves so little. Familiar right? Isn’t that something we are all guilty of? 

The ending of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ sees these people finally allowing themselves the lives they’ve held back from taking. Quill finally sought out the family he had left behind. Mantis left to discover what it is she really wanted to do after having only followed the whims and desires of others. Nebula chose to become the parent she never had, and Drax became the father he always was. 

I am reminded by a line from Tony Stark in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’:

“Isn’t that the mission? Isn’t that the ‘why we fight’? So we can end the fight and go home?”

They ended their fight so that they could finally face the one that mattered. And after all they’ve done, man do they deserve it. Maybe that’s something we can all learn from.

The Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guardians of the Galaxy | Marvel Studios

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