4 Things Parents Should Know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Peter Quill is a superhero with a long list of accomplishments.

He's rescued his friends from death. He's rescued strangers from death. He's even saved the universe.

But there is a hole in Quill's soul. His mom died. His girlfriend died. And now, his good friend, Rocket, is seriously injured.

"Everyone around me dies," he says.

Quill – also known as Star Lord – is determined to save Rocket. That, though, will require Quill and his superhero friends to travel to the other side of the universe, where the secret to Rocket's health lies. It also will require Quill to confront ghosts from his past.

Will Rocket survive?

The new film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (PG-13) follows the story of Quill, Rocket and their motley gang of good guys. It stars Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana and Pom Klementieff.

Here are four things parents should know:

Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.

The Gaurdians of the Galaxy

1. It's the End of an Era

The franchise began nearly a decade ago with 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, which told the story of a man from Earth named Peter Quill (Star-Lord) who fights to save the universe alongside his quirky group of friends: a talking raccoon (Rocket), a tree-like humanoid (Groot), a muscular ex-prisoner (Drax the Destroyer), a green-skinned alien (Gamora), an alien with antenna (Mantis) and an alien that's half-machine (Nebula). That was followed by 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

From the beginning, the Guardians were the comical corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They crack jokes and argue over mundane matters while fighting the bad guys.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is, apparently, the end of the road for a few major characters, although a mid-credit scene leaves the door open for another film with a different lineup.

Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.

A young Rocket from Gaurdians of the Galaxy

2. It's Rocket's Backstory

If you've ever wondered how a raccoon learned to talk and fly a spaceship, then this is your film. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens with Rocket suffering a major wound that requires an operation. However, due to a mechanized "kill switch" embedded within Rocket, surgery is not an option. (Surgery would trigger the kill switch, ending his life.) For the remainder of the film, Rocket is on life support while Quill and the Guardians search for a solution.

Eventually, the Guardians learn about Rocket's origins: He received his human-like abilities at Orgocorp, a biotech company headed by an evil genius known as The High Evolutionary (portrayed by Chukwudi Iwuji), who has created a machine that "speeds up" evolution so that animals can become intelligent within seconds. Rocket was the company's biggest success story. Due to his kind and compassionate nature, Rocket also was its biggest threat.

Quill and the gang travel to Orgocorp, where they confront The High Evolutionary. They also learn of his plan to conquer the universe.

Much of the film spotlights the relationship between Quill and his former romantic interest Gamora, who died in Infinity War but was brought back to life in Endgame when time was reversed. Unfortunately, the new version of Gamora does not remember Quill.

"It wasn't me," she says of their former relationship.

Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.

The evolutionary scientists in Gaurdians of the Galaxy

3. It's Another Utopian Story

Like Infinity War and Endgame, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gives us an antagonist whose goal is to create a better universe that will first require much destruction. The High Evolutionary didn't like Earth – it was full of "ignorance and bigotry" – so he creates a Counter-Earth planet populated by intelligent animals. Unfortunately, that experiment went awry (the octopuses were selling meth, among other problems), so he's going to destroy it and start over.

"I'm not trying to conquer the universe. I'm perfecting it," he tells Quill.

Quill and the Guardians simultaneously try to save Rocket while stopping The High Evolutionary from killing millions.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 includes plenty of fodder for a worldview discussion.

Early in the film, we learn that many corners of the universe consider The High Evolutionary to be a god. In the film's final moments, though, he tells a companion, "There is no god. That's why I stepped in."

Yet the film leaves no doubt about the existence of an afterlife when Rocket has a near-death experience. We see him ready to cross over into heaven when a friend tells him: Your time's not over.

Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.

Rocket flying a ship

4. It's Hilarious, But …

Fortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 avoids the sex-themed jokes that littered the first movie. The humor mostly stays in family-friendly territory – and is truly funny.

That doesn't mean the film is kid-friendly, though. It contains quite a bit of coarse language (details below). It contains an LGBT joke when Mantis uses her powers to make a man fall "hopelessly in love" with Drax. (He eyes Drax and smiles at him.)

It also contains a significant amount of violent and disturbing content. A man is stabbed with a sword through the abdomen. (It's bloody.) Another man is essentially burned to death with a laser beam. (We see his skull and his skeleton.) A pig-like creature is decapitated. In the film's most grotesque moment, a man's face is peeled off, revealing blood and muscle as he continues to talk. Monsters and creatures – and of course, punches and explosions – litter the film.

But if you can stomach that, the film has great lessons on selflessness, friendship, love and patience. Rocket reminds us that heroes don't seek vengeance. Mantis delivers one of the movie's best messages: Everyone has a purpose in life.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is fun, smart and hilarious, even if the plot – like most superhero films – seems recycled. And if that's not enough, the film also has a few scenes with the legendary Sylvester Stallone.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, suggestive/drug references and thematic elements. Language details: H-ll (11), a-- (5), f-word (1), d--k (4), OMG (2), SOB (1), s--t (2).

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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