‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Has an Unexpectedly Touching Ending

·5 min read
Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

James Gunn has announced Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which premiered in theaters last weekend, will be the last installment in his space trilogy. But does that mean it’s the end of the road for heroes like Star Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), and the rest of the crew? Based on how Guardians 3 wraps up, many of our favorite heroes’ stories may not be over—but others could be.

Beyond the questions about the future of the Guardians, though, is one of the most touching scenes of character development we’ve ever seen from the MCU. Does it push the plot forward? No, maybe not. But it draws us closer to these characters in a way that cements them as icons for future MCU movies, even if those might not be more Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Finally: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Is the Best Marvel Movie in Years

(Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, including the movie’s ending.)

Although sweet Rocket is out of commission for most of the movie, in which he largely appears in flashbacks to his torturous upbringing, his pals save him from near-death just in time for an action-packed third act. While the movie ends on a happy note of survival for our heroes, Rocket does cut it close while fighting The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), as does Star Lord.

It also ends with the Guardians splitting up. Peter and Gamora head off on their separate ways, as do Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). But two of the Guardians do stick together: Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket. Let’s dive into their final scenes in the movie, and what’s next for these two pals.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Jessica Miglio/Marvel Studios</div>
Jessica Miglio/Marvel Studios

Meet New Groot!

We’ve only ever heard tree man Groot say the same three words: “I am Groot.” (He does occasionally vary it up; one time, so preciously, he said, “We are Groot.”) Though the creature has hinted at his disposition in the way he says those words, as an audience, we’ve never received answers on what exactly he’s saying. The important thing is that his friends in the Guardians crew can understand.

But in this final installment, Groot ends on a new note: “I love you guys,” he tells the Guardians, as they bid their farewells.

An article from io9 explains why we can suddenly understand what Groot is saying for the first time. Groot isn’t finally speaking English—it’s that we, as an audience, have been accepted into the family and can now understand how he speaks. Though this may have been mere speculation at first, after a fan tagged Gunn in a tweet about the article, the director confirmed this interpretation to be true.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ Has a Lesson for the MCU—but Will It Listen?

“Yes,” Gunn tweeted, “that’s exactly what it means.” That’s the most surprising, touching part of the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3—the knowledge that we were on this journey with them all along, and that we have finally become part of the family we’ve been watching since 2014. It’s not like Groot gave some heartwarming monologue, but it’s nice to know we’ll be able to understand him in any future appearances he may make.

A Happy Ending for Rocket

For much of the film, it seems like Rocket won’t make it out of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 alive. The movie certainly feels like a swan song for Rocket, as we watch him being chased down by one of the most villainous leaders in the galaxy and taking some brutal battle wounds.

And yet, Rocket lives! When Rocket is given the chance to enter heaven (this movie seems to confirm that the afterlife exists in the MCU) with his old friend Lylla (Linda Cardellini), he’s told that it’s too soon for him to go—he still has unfinished business in the mortal world.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Marvel Studios</div>
Marvel Studios

The movie isn’t an ode to Rocket’s final hours. Rather, it’s a culmination of his coming-of-age story, one that ends with him finding the confidence and self-acceptance he needs to be a leader. Rocket is now in charge of the new Guardians of the Galaxy team, after Star Lord steps down from his position. He wants to spend some time being Peter Quill instead, heading back home to Earth to visit the relatives he left behind; we get a peek of this in the film's post-credits scene.

Before Star-Lord goes, he appoints his best friend Rocket to take over for him—and, best of all, he leaves Rocket his beloved Zune. Cue “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine.

Who Are the Guardians of the Galaxy Now?

In the mid-credits scene, we get a glimpse at Rocket serving as the leader, with Groot as his second-in-command. Joining them is Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Cosmo the Space Dog (Maria Bakalova), baddie-turned-hero Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), and rescued Star Kid Phyla (Kai Zen).

Marvel, Please Don’t Make Another ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

No, there’s no Guardians 4 in the works yet—but there’s plenty of time for that to unfold. Whether or not we want another movie after this lovely conclusion is another story. “I’ll be watching those next Guardians projects, whatever they are, out of professional obligation,” Allegra Frank wrote in a piece for The Daily Beast's Obsessed about the film’s open-ended credit scenes. “But while I dread this Gunn-less, reassembled future for the series, at least I’ll always remember the good times.”

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