Like many Marvel fans, I watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 the first chance I got during the premiere on Thursday night. And let me tell you that yes, Guardians Vol. 3 is probably the best movie Marvel has made since Endgame. It’s even better than Spider-Man: No Way Home and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
That said, I do have one big issue with the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot, which sort of ruins it for me. I will drop big spoilers below, so you shouldn’t read any further until you’ve had a chance to watch Guardians Vol. 3.
One of the best things about Guardians Vol. 3 is that the plot leaks weren’t perfectly on point. This is rare for an MCU Phase 4 or 5 movie, as most projects leaked in great detail ahead of their premieres. Don’t get me wrong, the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot leak that we covered in late December was accurate for the most part. The key detail it missed was the claim that at least one Guardians team member would die.
None of the original Guardians died, yet many came very close to dying. And I’ll highlight Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) in particular, whose space near-death experience is somewhat mind-boggling compared to other similar instances in the MCU. Remember that Quill isn’t part god anymore, so he can’t sustain that sort of damage.
But Guardians Vol. 3 is much darker and more brutal than the previous installments while still managing to be funny. And the way it pivots from a hilarious line to a heartbreaking scene is also very well done.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 timeline
That said, what I found puzzling about this Guardians Vol. 3 story is that it doesn’t advance the Multiverse Saga one bit. There’s nothing in this movie to really link it to the rest of the MCU. That’s why I said earlier that I find it strange for Guardians Vol. 3 to be the best MCU movie since Endgame, despite the lack of one key plot detail: Links to a bigger story.
That contrasts with Vol. 1, which turned out to have huge connections to Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his quest.
Put differently, what’s great about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is that it’s a movie you can watch without having seen anything in the MCU before. You can even skip the previous volumes and you’ll still have fun — even though you’ll miss out on some of the great Easter eggs in the movie.
But I’m into the MCU because of the larger story. As much as I appreciate these great standalone movies, I love connections to the larger storyline. That said, we have to place Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 somewhere in the grand scheme of things: The official MCU timeline.
Easter eggs in the movie tell us that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 takes place after The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which is a Christmas 2025 adventure. We’re looking at the MCU chronology here, of course.
Everyone knows that Mantis (Pom Klementieff) Is Peter’s sister. And the Peter Quill credits scenes give us a hilarious newspaper title. Kevin Bacon shares his experience of being abducted by aliens.
The timeline placement brings me to my biggest gripe with the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot.
Marvel is still running away from Avengers: Endgame
I think the movie is another missed chance for Marvel to explore the aftermath of Infinity War and Endgame. In the MCU chronology, it has been more than seven years since the blip in Infinity War when half of the universe’s living creatures vanished. Five years after that, they returned to life just as mysteriously. It happened everywhere in space, not just on Earth.
Yet two years after Endgame, Marvel is ignoring the impact of those events on other planets. The only reference to Thanos’s genocide comes during that hilarious elevator scene where Peter acknowledges that he might have been responsible for killing half of the living beings in the universe.
It all happens in an incredibly sophisticated and well-organized place: a planet made of living tissue. It’s a world that holds the record for many of the universe’s biggest inventions, including the High Evolutionary’s (Chukwudi Iwuji) work. And it looks like it has been working without a hitch all this time.
It would have been amazing for some of these characters or the High Evolutionary himself to reference what happened due to the snap. After all, Thanos wiped out half of that planet’s beings. Half of the High Evolutionary’s experiments. Maybe even the High Evolutionary himself.
Before that, it’s mostly Peter who embodies the trauma that followed the Infinity War and Endgame deaths and resurrections. He’s getting drunk a lot, something we learn very early in the movie, as he mourns the loss of his Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
Later in the movie, Nebula (Karen Gillan) also makes a reference to how her father tortured her, which counts as a link to the past. But it’s a small one.
Why wait until now to go after Rocket Raccoon?
The implication of everything that happened in Infinity War should be massive for a person who views himself as a God. Chukwudi Iwuji is incredible as High Evolutionary, delivering a villain so bad that you love to hate him.
But how cool would it have been for the audience to learn from one of the High Evolutionary monologues that he, too, had fallen victim to Thanos? That his empire was gone for five years, but he managed to take it back. Or that dying made him double down on experiments to achieve his lifelong dream to create the perfect species. A species that would be able to prevent future Thanos events.
This sort of simple connection to Endgame and Infinity War would have made Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 even better. And it would explain why the High Evolutionary waited until now to find Rocket (Bradley Cooper). After all, the raccoon’s reputation must precede him. High Evolutionary not hunting Rocket sooner is somewhat of a plot hole, though we can partially explain it.
Still, Rocket has become a well-known figure in the larger universe. Before the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he was an outlaw. Then he became a Guardian. And after the Infinity War events, he was practically a space-patrolling Avenger.
The future of the Guardians in the Multiverse Saga
The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 plot covers less than two days in the lives of the Guardians, but the events are incredibly important for this family of superheroes. The group gets disbanded, and that’s the detail that might be important for the Multiverse Saga plot.
The new team looks entirely different after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While it might have acquired the powerful Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), these aren’t the same Guardians. Also, Peter is on Earth because of what he’s been through since Endgame.
Maybe when the Kangs of the multiverse attack, the locations of Peter and the other Guardians will matter. The old team not being together in the aftermath of the High Evolutionary fight might impact their ability to fight Kang in the initial Kang Dynasty face-off.
This is all speculation, of course. We’ll just have to trust Marvel.