A Happy Ending

*Contains spoilers for the film Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 is a significant film for many reasons. It is the final movie of the Guardians of the Galaxy series and the last time we will see the original lineup together. It was director James Gunn’s final film for Marvel before joining comic rival, DC Studios. While fans have been generally disappointed with the state of the MCU following the resolution of the Infinity Saga, Guardians 3 received positive reviews from both critics and fans.

Although Guardians 3 is an ending to the current Guardians series, it serves as an origin story, as fans finally get to see how the volatile Rocket came to be. We learn why he is always so angry, violent, and hesitant to trust others in previous films. It is all because of one ingenious man: the High Evolutionary.

The Evils of Eugenics
Director James Gunn called High Evolutionary (the antagonist of Guardians 3), “the cruelest MCU villain we’ll ever see.” He is a brilliant geneticist who seeks to make the universe perfect, yet he does so through horrific experimentation. He uses animals as test subjects and turns them into higher life forms, one of which was Rocket. Evolutionary’s methods are brutal and he quickly becomes displeased with his creations, then just as quickly disposes of them. Let’s look at some important quotations from the movie that help illustrate the villain’s worldview and motivations.

I’m not trying to conquer the universe. I’m perfecting it. —High Evolutionary

While he is a fictional character, the High Evolutionary represents many dictators throughout history who believed they could create the perfect society. It sounds nice in theory, but the desire for utopia quickly turns deadly. One of the most infamous examples is the Nazis in Germany, who sought to create a pure master race, but to do so, they killed anyone they believed was inferior or used them in scientific experiments. The same was true of the High Evolutionary. He tells Rocket, “You think you have some worth in and of yourself without me?! No! You’re an abomination! Nothing more than a step on my path!” Every terrible thing the High Evolutionary does is in the name of progress, which shows the truth about eugenics and the search for utopia: it never ends well for those deemed ‘undesirable.’

There is no God! That’s why I stepped in. —High Evolutionary

We’ve seen throughout history that whenever a dictator or government seeks complete control of its people, the first thing that must be eliminated is religion. The state must be the people’s top loyalty and the sole authority in their lives that determines right and wrong. The government also decides who is valuable, often discarding those who are not—whether they are the sick, the weak, the elderly, or simply political dissidents. This is why the High Evolutionary could tell Rocket that he (Rocket) had no value of his own. And if there truly is no God, as the High Evolutionary believes, then he is accountable to no one for his atrocities.

You didn’t want to make things perfect. You just hated things the way they are. —Rocket to High Evolutionary

Rocket exposes the High Evolutionary’s true motivations: not to make the world better, but to destroy whatever he dislikes. There have been many social and political movements throughout history that have promised a better tomorrow, yet they were driven by bitterness, resentment, and hatred. Modern social justice activists wish to “burn down” systems and “smash” hierarchies, yet they are ruining their own relationships and communities in the process. Hatred cannot build, it only destroys.

All of this is a direct contrast with the Christian worldview. Our value is not determined by our usefulness, strength, intelligence, ethnicity, sexuality, or any other attribute. We are valuable simply because we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, no one has the right to take the life of an innocent human being simply because he or she is deemed undesirable by a person or government. Also, right and wrong are not determined by whoever is in power, but are grounded in God’s perfectly good nature and commands. He has called human beings to cultivate and transform the world, but Christians are to be motivated by love for others, never by hatred.

A Happy Ending
Whenever we reach the final film in a series, all bets are off on who lives and dies. This was the fear many fans had with Guardians 3. Both David Bautista (Drax) and Zoe Saldaña (Gamorra) publicly shared that they were done playing their characters, leading fans to believe that they, and possibly others as well, would be killed in the film of the Guardians series. We also witnessed characters sacrificing themselves to save their friends in each of the previous Guardian movies. Would this happen again?

Surprisingly, all of the main characters survive the movie (even though we do get a scare near the end). More than that, however, is that they all get a happy ending. Rocket heals from his tragic past, learning from the pain of losing his family of test subjects to appreciate the new family he has. Nebula, who had been cruelly “rebuilt” with cybernetic implants by her father to make her stronger, finds a new purpose in rebuilding her world. This bitter and broken woman who has only ever scowled finally shares a big, beautiful smile at the end of the film. When we meet Drax the Destroyer in the first Guardians film, he is filled with rage and desires only revenge for the death of his family. At the end of this film, however, Nebula helps him to realize that he is not meant to be a destroyer but to be a dad. This brutish being, who once stated that dancing is pathetic, sheds his tough exterior and joyfully joins in a carefree dance with the children he helps rescue. Although we viewers are sad that this is the last time we will see the original Guardians lineup together, each of the characters is in a better place than when we first met them.

Guardians 3 may be the most emotional and tragic of all of the MCU films, but this is also what makes the happy ending so much sweeter. We all crave a happy ending in life. We face pain and challenges and need the hope that one day all will be well. This is the great Hope of Christianity, that no matter what we face in this life, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Even if our fortune does not turn around in this life, those of us in Christ are promised an eternity of peace and joy with our Creator (Revelation 21:1-5 ESV).

A New Beginning
Although Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 concludes the trilogy, it also marks a new beginning for the characters. They all have found a new purpose in life, driven by love and concern for others, not by revenge or hatred. The Christian story is also all about new beginnings. The Bible tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Likewise, when we die, it is just the beginning for Christians. We will enter more fully into new life in the Kingdom of God that will be greater than we could ever imagine.

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Timothy Fox

Timothy Fox has a passion to equip the church to engage the culture. He is a part-time math teacher, full-time husband and father. He has an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University as well as an M.A. in Adolescent Education of Mathematics and a B.S. in Computer Science, both from Stony Brook University. Tim lives on Long Island, NY with his wife and children. He also blogs at freethinkingministries.com.