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The best characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, ranked

After a long and winding journey, Marvel Studios has finally released James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This highly-anticipated film follows the Guardians as they face off against the Rocket’s creator, the High Evolutionary, in their darkest but most beautiful adventure yet.

Since this seems to be the last time we’ll see the Guardians together, now’s a good time to rank all the characters who rocked cinemas in their final tour.

Please note: there are major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in this article.

13. Ayesha

Ayesha in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Sovereign empress returns to exact vengeance on the Guardians with the help of Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary. But it is revealed that she and her people were created by the High Evolutionary, and she becomes more subservient in his presence.

Though she was dead-set on killing the Guardians out of spite in the second film, she now pursues them with Adam to protect her race from the Evolutionary’s wrath. But she remains as callous as ever as she scolds Adam like a bad pageant mom, so it doesn’t come as much of a pity when she finally bites the dust.

12. Cosmo the Spacedog

Cosmo in "Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special"
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This dog gained psychic powers after being launched into space by the Soviet Union, and she was seen working with the Guardians on Knowhere in their Holiday Special.

But even with her amazing abilities, Cosmo has shown herself to be very insecure, as she repeatedly insists that Kraglin not call her a “bad dog.” But who could stay mad at this adorable dog? Certainly not Kraglin.

11. Kraglin

Kraglin in "Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though it’s been 10 years since he inherited Yondu’s arrow, Kraglin still has trouble controlling it when the film begins. But in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Kraglin still gets the chance to shine as he masters his arrow thanks to some encouraging words from Yondu himself.

And with that, he defends the people of Knowhere from the Evolutionary’s Hellspawn, making for a well-deserved triumph for a small but underrated character.

10. Adam Warlock

Adam Warlock in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After years of waiting, fans can finally see Adam Warlock light up the MCU as he is sent by Ayesha to capture Rocket. Since he was only recently born, this golden boy doesn’t quite understand the world that well and acts unruly in the presence of Ayesha and the Evolutionary.

But beneath his violent exterior lies a childlike innocence that gradually grows throughout the film after finding a furry little pet to call his friend. However, after Groot saves his life, Adam fully achieves the quality of mercy and rescues Quill from the cold vacuum of space. He then uses his second chance at life to protect the galaxy as a member of the Guardians.

9. Gamora

Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3..
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Being a time-displaced variant in the MCU’s main universe, Gamora went on to become the new leader of the Ravagers. But since she never met Quill and the other Guardians as she did in the first film, this Gamora doesn’t have the same loving friendship with them this time around.

In fact, she clashes with Star-Lord all throughout their heist in Orgocorp due to her murderous tactics. This Gamora is a far cry from the hero fans were introduced to in 2014, but she is still one of the MCU’s best female characters and one who grows fond of her variant’s friends and separates from them on good terms.

8. Groot

Groot in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Groot has grown up a lot since the last big screen outing. With his deeper voice and buff body, Groot has become more like the version of him seen in the first Guardians film, although he somewhat retains his “Baby Groot” face.

Nevertheless, Groot plants himself in this film better than ever before, as he introduces an enormous “kaiju” form and actually says, “I love you guys,” to the Guardians, which speaks volumes about his growth over the years.

7. Drax the Destroyer

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though it has been almost 10 years since his debut in the MCU, Drax is still the same meathead buffoon everyone knows and loves. But this foolishness proves to be his downfall yet again, as he gets Nebula and Mantis captured after refusing to stay at their ship.

While he presents himself as a liability to the team, Drax proves his worth by comforting and leading the Evolutionary’s child prisoners to safety like the proud papa he is. Thus, Drax reminds audiences that he is a great father at heart, despite his title, and after losing his daughter so long ago, it is fitting that he becomes a father figure to the children he helped set free.

6. Lylla

Rocket hugging Lylla in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This talking otter is a welcome addition to the MCU, even if she was in it for a short time. Lylla grew up with Rocket and some other animals the Evolutionary experimented on and was a ray of hope and happiness for them all in their dreary lives in captivity. She even helped Rocket come up with a name for himself and forge his own identity.

So it comes as a terrible shock when she is gunned down by the Evolutionary, along with her friends, Teefs and Floor. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that she and her friends are flying happily together in the forever and beautiful sky.

5. High Evolutionary

The High Evolutionary in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has recently dabbled in sympathetic villains, there are absolutely no redeeming qualities in him whatsoever. Sadistic and egotistical, this cosmic Doctor Moreau experiments on adorable animals and turns them into talking humanoid hybrids to form the perfect race.

He also has no trouble destroying his creations when things don’t go his way. He even obliterates Counter-Earth and everyone on it when he decides to start fresh. And if that wasn’t evil enough, he imprisons alien children and tries to traffic them to his new world. Thus, the High Evolutionary has taken his place amongst the most evil villains in the MCU.

4. Nebula

Nebula carries Star-Lord's limp body in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Marvel Studios

At this point, Nebula has moved on from her traumatic past with Thanos and has become a fully-fledged member of the Guardians. She also has a new bionic arm and some mechanical wings that make her like a robotic Valkyrie.

Despite this, Nebula still has to deal with her rage issues, as Mantis points out her habit of looking for any flaw in a person and lashing out over it. She may still be a hard bot to be with, but Nebula has completely transformed herself into the caring and loving hero Gamora knew she was.

3. Mantis

Mantis laughing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Having revealed herself as Ego’s daughter in the Guardians’ Holiday Special, Mantis helps her older brother Quill overcome his grief over Gamora, as well as his fear of abandonment by encouraging him to see his grandfather again.

She also defends Drax from Nebula’s rage, accepting him for who he is, flaws and all. She thus proves herself to be the glue keeping the Guardians from falling apart, with her empathy being her greatest strength. She even manages to tame a trio of Abilisks and save her friends.

2. Star-Lord

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Image via Marvel Studios

The film shows Peter Quill in a deep depression over the death of Gamora. And it only gets worse when he has to work with the variant that arrived in his timeline in Avengers: Endgame. Though he is desperate to regain the love that was lost with his true love, Quill struggles to let go out of fear of being alone again.

His struggle is even more complex due to his not wanting to reconnect with his grandfather on Earth. But in the end, Quill accepts life without Gamora and tries to “swim” on his own for a while. But he still decides to reunite with his grandfather and spend some time on his home planet. Good for him.

1. Rocket Raccoon

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) with a serious look on his face, while wearing a red and black costume.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though he spends most of the film clinging to dear life in a medical bed, Rocket is very much the main protagonist of this film. Rocket is forced to face the demons of his past as he recalls his traumatic upbringing with the High Evolutionary. Having watched Lylla and his other animal friends get shot dead by their creator and his minions, audiences now understand how this gunslinging raccoon became so jaded and distant.

But this being his story, Rocket learns to accept himself for the raccoon he is and frees all of the Evolutionary’s prisoners. He is even named the new leader of Guardians after Quill and Mantis leave the team. After all the pain and fighting he went through in his journey as a hero, it warms the heart to see him achieve the happiness he deserves.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now in theaters.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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