NEW YORK -- "Guardians of the Galaxy" came out in 2014, and right away, fans fell in love with a group of space misfits on a mission to save the universe.
It also launched Chris Pratt's career out of this world. We first met just before the original movie came out, and I am happy to report he has remained the same grounded guy I talked to then.
Back in 2014, he told me he'd hadn't seen himself as the kind of actor who could play a superhero.
"I didn't think I'd be believable in this type of role," Pratt said. I'd auditioned for movies like this before and sorta walked away with my tail between my legs. And, I had decided to save myself the embarrassment and save them the time."
He overcame his reluctance ands career has never been the same!
Today, it's hard to believe that a movie featuring minor characters from the Marvel comic books was once considered so risky that many pundits were predicting the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie would be a disaster.
But, the original grossed more than $770 million so on the final day of shooting for Vol. 3, the star found the perfect way to say goodbye to the cast and crew.
"When we wrapped I wanted to read some headlines from 10 years ago when people predicted we would be Marvel's first big flop," Pratt said at the New York City premiere. "It was kind of a way to just remind everyone of everything that we'd overcome."
The road to the finale was torturous.
Director James Gunn was even fired at one point, but the cast rallied to his support and he ended up writing and directing all three of the movies in the series.
From the beginning, he favored one character in particular.
"This show started out with me coming up with a back story for 'Rocket,'" he reminded me. "That's what has fueled all three 'Guardians' movies, and it's what made me need to tell this story."
The raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper and (as a younger animal) by Gunn's brother Sean, is the center of attention in the new movie.
Rocket is fighting for his life while the other Guardians race to save him.
I observed to the director that I'd heard he is the character most like him and asked if that was true.
Is that true? Gunn responded, "I relate to him a lot. He is a little guy who didn't have the greatest upbringing in the world." And, Gunn says, the guy who raised him - the character known as The High Evolutionary - is "the cruelest villain" in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe!
"A lot of M.C.U. villains try to look for a sympathy or empathy code thrown in there," explained the actor who plays him, and Chukwudi Iwuji went on to say, "This guy's a horrible piece of work...despicable, a sociopath...so I relished playing him. It was delicious."
Iwuji is a classically trained stage actor who appeared in Shakespeare's "Othello" at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park a few years back.
In my view, his performance alone makes Vol. 3 worth seeing.
It's from Marvel Entertainment and distributed by Disney - both owned by the same parent company as ABC 7.