May 25, 2023


Truths Unlooked ForGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a return to the good action/adventure/sci-fi romp, with excellent story and spectacle and no wokeness. More surprisingly, it's also profound thanks to its shocking religious themes. (Jared Johnson, 5/24/23, Crisis)

Rocket was created as a throwaway experiment, but he manifests a unique consciousness and free will absent in the Evolutionary's other creations. The supervillain spends the film in a manic search to find Rocket and study his inexplicable mind. Rocket winds up grievously wounded in the High Evolutionary's first attempt, and so the Guardians race to save their friend and confront the past. 

The source of Rocket's intelligence turns out to be, of all things, divine Providence. Thanks to his materialism, the High Evolutionary is blind to this. It is by contrasting the Guardians and the Evolutionary that Gunn explores two responses to the problem of evil: hope in Providence, and despair. The High Evolutionary embodies the latter. 

His utopian ambitions reveal a desperate refusal to deny the fallenness of creation, and he believes he must weed it out himself. In real life, this despair is at the heart of every totalitarian ideology out there, from Machiavelli to Marx. All of them insist that the world is awful, there is no higher power to fix it, and so we must order the world ourselves. When his quest for Rocket devolves into madness, one henchman begs him to stop "for the love of God." He bellows: "There is no God! That's why I stepped in!" 

The context ensures that this is not a movie in which the filmmaker subtly speaks his worldview through the villain; rather, the heroic Guardians embody hope in Providence, posited as the correct answer. As he lies dying, Rocket's soul stands at the literal Pearly Gates. There he speaks to another experiment, a dear friend, murdered by the High Evolutionary. He reveals his grief over the monstrousness of his creation. He wants a purpose, but he has despaired of ever finding one. 

His friend tells him that "there are the hands that made us, and there are the hands that guide the hands." That is to say: we are shaped by our suffering, but that suffering is a tool for the good. I don't know any way to read that except as Christian Providence. You can't even render it a vague New Ageism like "the universe"; in saying the "hands that guide," Providence is implied to be personal, intentional, and benevolent. By the end of the film, each Guardian comes to a similar conclusion; and by embracing the mystery of Providence, they can fly off, free and joyful, to discover their true callings. 

The conceit that one could do better than God is hardly surprising to find in a comic book villain, but it is especially explicit here. And Anglospheric culture is so deeply premised on Man's Fallen nature and the impossibility of Rational utopianism that this theme too is unsurprising.  Still, it's nice to see hundreds of millions of dollars spent to remind the masses of it at a time when liberalism is under attack from the Left/Right.

Posted by at May 25, 2023 12:00 AM