The reviews are in for Disney’s latest space epic. We still Groot?
Rumors of Marvel’s demise are premature. But it’s clear that the Disney powerhouse is no longer invincible.
As has been the case for many years, Disney’s DIS Marvel Cinematic Universe dominated 2022. Sure, it didn’t score the top picture (that went to “Top Gun: Maverick”) but it had the second and third (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) and (“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”). The Marvel Cinematic Universe could also claim the eighth spot (“Thor: Love and Thunder”) and it was still basking in the billion dollar plus glow of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
But nothing lasts forever, and all empires fall.
Okay, that might be a bit much, but while Marvel was riding high last year, the grumblings that we were in the midst of super fatigue, and that superhero films were dominating the film industry to the detriment of pretty much any other kind of film, were nearing a fever pitch.
Though “Thor: Love and Thunder” was a hit, many fans and critics were left cold. The Marvel shows made for Disney+, such as “Moon Knight” and “Ms. Marvel,” were met with mixed reviews. Some complained that the special effects were substandard, while many people felt there was just more Marvel out there than anyone could possibly follow or need.
It all came to head earlier this year with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” receiving some of the worst reviews ever for a Marvel film, earning an absolutely brutal Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 47%.
Critics and fans complained about the rushed-looking CGI, baffling storyline, forced humor and for generally losing the charm that made the first two Paul Rudd-staring movies a delightful respite from the seriousness of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After a strong start, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” then tumbled from its opening weekend total of $120.4 million to $32.2 million, a 69.7% drop. In an embarrassing move, it was quickly replaced at the box office by… “Cocaine Bear,” which cost a fraction of the budget and got much better audience reactions.
That’s gotta hurt.
The Guardians to The Rescue?
It’s too soon to say if Marvel has a problem or if this was a one off, and audiences just didn’t like “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Perhaps it was killed off by bad word of mouth, and a feeling that since the “Ant-Man” films have rarely been central to the plot of the MCU, fans could save money and catch it on Disney+.
But now comes the real test, James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
Based on a fairly obscure Marvel title about a group of misfit space crusaders, 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a surprise hit, and offered proof of the idea that Marvel was in its imperial phase, able to make anything work. Gunn was a veteran of bloody independent horror-comedy films, and he brought his oft-kilter sense of humor to the film, turning Chris Pratt into a movie star (for better and for worse) and somehow made “I Am Groot” both a punchline and a heartbreaking goodbye.
Disney Press Room
After the also successful “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Gunn was fired by Disney after a series of poor-taste Tweets resurfaced. After he apologized for the jokes, and claimed he had grown past his edge lord days, he was later rehired to finish the trilogy, and once his promotional duties are done, he will be working full-time at Warner Bros. Discovery alongside Peter Safran, as co-chiefs of DC Studios; his first matter of business will be the reboot “Superman: Legacy.”
But first, we get to see if he gets to end his Marvel days on a high note, or if this is yet another three-parter that flubs the ending.
Disney Press Room
So What’s Buzz on ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’?
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” opens on Friday, May 5, and so far it’s projected to open in the $120 million range domestically, down from the $146 million debut of 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, The Hollywood Reporter notes that “Marvel and parent company Disney are keen on Guardians 3, and believe it will benefit from good word of mouth.”
We’ll see how that word of mouth pans out once fans take to the internet. Until then, here’s what critics are saying about the film, which is mostly receiving positive reviews, though some note that at two and a half hours long, it suffers from the bloat that’s become common amongst blockbuster films of late.
The Hollywood Reporter loved the soundtrack (which includes Radiohead AND The Replacements) and the comedic interplay between Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and the Drax (Dave Bautista), and while noting Gunn’s “distinctively anarchic style is on full display here,” it does at times feel like a bit too much of a good thing.
On the other hand, Rolling Stone’s David Fear thinks the entire thing felt unnecessary and lame, and another sign that the MCU is running fumes.
Whereas Variety’s calls it a “satisfying close” to the trilogy that highlights why this is the most purely entertaining title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The A.V. Club finds it a bit overstuffed as well, but overall satisfying.
Vanity Fair finds the emotional beats hollow, deeming it “an odd, lumbering patchwork of a film, occasionally fascinating but otherwise bloated and aimless.”
Discussing film mostly liked it, but wasn’t sure about the villain Adam Warlock, played by Will Poulter.
The Mary Sue is sad to this franchise end, but had a good time with Vol. 3.
Entertainment Weekly thinks it’s the best Marvel film in a while. Which, considering the director is off to the Distinct Competition, is a bit of a mixed blessing.