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Ranking all three Guardians of the Galaxy movies

Now that the trilogy is complete, we go over and rank all three of Jame Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 03: Chris Pratt attends a special screening of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 03, 2023 in New York City. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Disney

The 2023 summer blockbuster season officially kicked off with the release of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. The 32nd installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) sees the return of the core ensemble cast as well as writer and director James Gunn, who becomes one of the few Marvel directors to put a bow on the story he began back in 2014.

With the trilogy now officially complete, let’s break down our rankings of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017)

The highly-anticipated sequel was released back in 2017 and holds an 85% critics score and an 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The second film in the franchise is a perfect example of a movie that needs to be rewatched more than once. At the time it felt as if it tried to tackle too many arcs at once, but in retrospect, it dives well into the father figures that shaped Star-Lord as well as the relationship between Gamora and Nebula.

Also, how can anyone not enjoy the opening sequence as our first introduction to the adorable Baby Groot?

2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (2023)

To no one’s surprise, the final installment of the trilogy proved to pull at the heartstrings, perhaps even a bit more than expected. Exploring the origin story of Rocket is at the core of the film, and Gunn delivers this to the audience in an exceptional manner. Even with the moments of emotional weight, Vol. 3 still has plenty of fun beats and thrilling action sequences, including one notable moment in the final act of the film.

Additional praise should be given to Chukwudi Iwuji’s portrayal of the High Evolutionary, as the antagonist proved to be one of the better-written foes in the larger MCU.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The first film of the franchise holds the highest critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes (92%) as well as an equally strong 92% audience score, and truth be told you can’t pick against the debut of the Guardians. Perhaps it's the fact that what many deemed to be Marvel Studios' first “flop” actually proved to be a breakout franchise for their cinematic universe. From the endless quips about Rocket being a raccoon to Groots simple three-word phrase, there is no shortage of humorous beats.

While not a direct comparison (and it shouldn’t be), the film’s visual spectacle and action sequences make a case to be this fandom’s ‘Star Wars,’ which is a testament to how well Gunn executed his debut MCU film.