Guardians of the Galaxy 3 review roundup: Marvel’s best trilogy ends on a high note

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
(Image credit: The Walt Disney Company)

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has landed, kicking off the summer blockbuster season in great galactic style.

Guardians 3 reviews are in, and there’s a broad consensus that it acts as a fitting end to the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, with the iconic mix of vivid alien settings, quippy humor, and surprising heart that made these films some of the best of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

The film is less focused on seismic, multiverse-hopping threats of recent Marvel fare, and more on the traumatic history of Rocket, the abrasive, anthropomorphic raccoon played by Bradley Cooper throughout the Guardians films – taking a welcome break from the MCU’s usual universe-ending stakes for a more personal story.

Rotten Tomatoes has awarded Guardians 3 a score of 81%, with an audience score of 95%, describing it as “A galactic group hug that might squeeze a little too tight on the heartstrings, the final Guardians of the Galaxy is a loving last hurrah for the MCU's most ragtag family.”

IGN gave the film an 8/10, saying that “The Guardians of the Galaxy deliver their swan song in Vol. 3 and it’s a rockin’ good time. Rocket's tragic origins, great action and effects, and James Gunn's soulful style send them out on an emotional high note.”

The Independent has called it “the best Marvel movie in years”, saying that “What Gunn’s done here isn’t even rocket (raccoon) science – he’s just crafted well-drawn, textured characters in a story told with care and commitment. And it’s a story told in a world that continues to feel distinct and almost entirely self-contained, something safely quarantined away from the wider narrative of the MCU.”

The Guardian praises the fun, jokes, and unique styling of this trilogy-ending film, while noting that this fond farewell is a little busy at times: “Classic rock needle drops and showy, snaking, single-shot action sequences – both GOTG trademarks – abound in a picture that balances a slightly overstuffed storyline with mischief, humour and the biggest of hearts.”

End of an era

There’s more than a note of sorrow about many of these reviews, which acknowledge how this film acts as a goodbye not just for the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but the director that made them what they are. James Gunn has ceased working with Marvel in order to set up DC’s new film division, rebooting the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman, and will no longer be around to leave his trademark thumbprint on what remains of the MCU.

Polygon rightly points out that “His Guardians of the Galaxy movies are among the few MCU films that feel truly authored, with a unique aesthetic and sensibility of their own. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther films are their only real counterpart: Both mini-franchises were allowed to claim distinct corners of the MCU, and both filmmakers were compelled to make those corners as visually distinctive as possible.”

Gunn’s authorship of this trilogy is a clear sign of how good things can go when sticking with a single creative vision for a planned trilogy of films – a lesson that other Disney-owned franchises, like the Star Wars movies, would do well to remember.

And while there may be some future yet for some members of this ragtag team, it won’t be with Gunn, and therefore it won’t be what it was. So what better reason to enjoy this last hurrah – whether you're seeing it in the cinema or waiting for when you can watch Guardians of the Galaxy 3 on Disney Plus?

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.