SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, one of the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come to an end for good. The movie has all the action and humor that fans are sure to expect, but it also contains some of the most emotional moments in any superhero movie to date.
The thing that does guardians of the galaxy stand out among MCU titles and superhero movies more generally, it’s not the action, but the emotion. Most superhero movies didn’t make us feel the same way this franchise did. It hits right into the sensations so many times. It’s a celebration of the moments that hurt Guardians of the Galaxy so badly.
The opening scene (Guardians of the Galaxy)
The emotional punches in this franchise started at the very beginning. If you have seen the trailers for the original guardians of the galaxy, then you expect to see a fun and entertaining superhero space adventure with some surprising music choices. And yet, the film opened with a scene where a 12-year-old boy watches his mother die of cancer.
It wasn’t the movie we expected, and it delivers a powerful emotional moment right from the start. We finally get the comedy action movie we’ve been waiting for, but guardians of the galaxy sets the tone early on that this franchise will be much more than just a space adventure.
Rocket’s Drunk (Guardians of the Galaxy)
When we first meet Rocket, he’s a bit of a smart mouth with a very tough exterior, and for the most part he has the skills to sustain the speech. But after the Guardians escape from prison and travel to Knowhere, Rocket has had a little too much to drink and we see what’s underneath the outside for the first time.
Rocket and Drax fight after Rocket perceives disrespect from him. Rocket is ready to throw himself in, but he’s also clearly hurt by it all. At this point we don’t know the origins of Rocketbut it’s still heartbreaking to see that everything that happened to him early in his life has taken a toll.
We are Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy)
At the end of the first guardians of the galaxy, we are all firmly in the corner of this team of misfits. We want to see them succeed and above all we want to see them do it together. Unfortunately, we are not so lucky, as Groot makes the decision to sacrifice himself to protect the rest of his friends.
Rocket’s grief is ours. He doesn’t want to lose his friend. And Groot’s last words, “We are Groot”, resonate with all of us. As we would see a Groot again, this Groot is dying right nowmeaning we never got to spend the time with him that we wanted.
I just wanted a sister (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
There is no character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an arc like Nebula’s. In the first movie, she’s a villain, and by the end, she’s a full-fledged Guardian of the Galaxy – and her emotional journey is even more incredible. It really starts in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when we learn how traumatic it is to be a daughter of Thanos.
After Nebula and Gamora stop trying to kill each other, we learn what Thanos put them through, the abuse Nebula suffered, and how she blames the stronger Gamora for not protecting her from their father. It’s an incredible confession for Gamora to hear, and the last thing we as audiences expect is why it hurts so much for her and for us.
Rocket & Yondu (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
The nebula is far from alone in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 face uncomfortable truths. After escaping Ravagers’ captivity, Yondu and Rocket do the same when Yondu admits his own trauma – being sold into slavery by his parents as a child. He understands how it damaged him and how it impacts his own relationships, especially with Peter. Yondu sees a kindred spirit in Rocket.
It’s an emotional scene in its own right, but it’s even more powerful after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and realizing how on-brand Yondu was when it came to Rocket’s origin.
The Revelation of the Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Peter’s trauma began with the death of his mother. A moment like this is difficult for most people, but for a boy who couldn’t be there for her, it haunts him even more. He is able to find some degree of closure at the end of the first film, but meeting his father Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reopens old wounds.
These wounds run even deeper when it is revealed that Peter’s mother, Meredith, died because Ego himself gave her cancer. Losing a loved one is hard enough when it comes to an unavoidable random act. That Meredith died because of an overt act by someone who claimed to love her is heartbreaking. We see the pain this revelation causes Peter and it hits us just as hard.
He Wasn’t Your Daddy (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
guardians of the galaxy is the story of a found family – people who bond with each other not because of where they come from, but because of what they have shared. Ego is Peter Quill’s biological father, but he didn’t raise him. That honor and responsibility fell to Yondu.
It is certainly true that Yondu was not a perfect father. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t absolve him of what he did to Peter, but it does open the door to the possibility of forgiveness. Unfortunately, Yondu doesn’t live to see this forgiveness for himself, because at the same time Peter realizes who his father really was, he loses him. Whatever relationship this father and son might have had is lost.
Peter shoots Gamora (Avengers: Infinity War)
Not all of the heartbreaking emotional moments for Guardians of the Galaxy come from any of the films in the trilogy. Avengers: Infinity War spends a lot of time with the team and includes moments as heavy as anything written by James Gunn. The first occurs when the unthinkable happens and Peter nearly kills Gamora.
She asked him to do it if the circumstances require it, and they do it on the spot. Although the effort is not successful, it may be almost worse for this reason. Peter is forced to come to terms with the fact that he pulled the trigger, believing, at the time, that he killed the woman he loves, while having to come to terms with the fact that Thanos still took her. . This makes Star-Lord’s breakdown at the climax of the film all the more understandable.
Gamora’s Death (Avengers: Infinity War)
Gamora’s death thanks to the Soul Stone is without a doubt one of the most emotional moments not only for Guardians of the Galaxy, but also for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Until this moment, Gamora had spent the entire time we knew her trying to free herself from Thanos’ oppression, and she is unable to do so. In the end, when it comes to their relationship, he wins.
After the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and understanding what a monster Thanos is, Gamora is one of the people you want to see standing when the Mad Titan is defeated. Looks like she won at least that. And while Gamora somehow survives the events, the original version of her is gone forever.
The Origin of Rocket (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3)
If you thought the opening sequence of the first guardians of the galaxy film was painful, the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 maybe even worse. The new movie is really Rocket’s story, and that comes with a full understanding of his backstory, and the movie starts with the worst moments.
Rocket is not only a victim of cruelty, he is reborn from it. The opening montage shows us exactly what Rocket went through to make him the hero we know and love. It’s no wonder the sequence is set to a brooding acoustic version of “Creep.” Even Rocket doesn’t know what to do with himself.
Lylla’s Death (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3)
All along Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, we learn about Rocket’s pre-Guardian life through a series of flashback sequences. We see how he was created and how he made his first friends among others who were created like him. Four of them, including a mechanical-armed otter named Lylla, plan to run away together. Unfortunately, in their escape attempt, Rocket’s friends are killed, with Lylla literally dying in his arms.
It’s not just character deaths that hurt, it’s watching what their deaths do to Rocket. It is at this moment that everything lights up in him. All of her trauma, her difficulty in connecting with others, comes back to that single moment and you can feel it in her cry of emotional pain.
Farewell (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3)
And then we meet at the end. Somehow, against all odds, the Guardians of the Galaxy survived, and yet, they’re falling apart all the same. Every member of the Guardians of the Galaxy realizes that the place they need to be now is somewhere else.
We knew that somehow this moment was coming, but it hurts none the less. They’ve been through so much and we’ve been there with them. It was an awesome trip and one we won’t soon forget.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 now playing in theaters. For a look at what’s in store for characters from the beloved branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies And Next Marvel TV guides.