The summer box office season kicks off this weekend with the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” a movie that, as an installment in the suddenly struggling Marvel Cinematic Universe, is facing plenty of scrutiny. Ultimately, its success will hinge on whether fans enjoy learning Rocket’s origin story and the resulting word of mouth.
MCU films aren’t just expected to be blockbuster hits. They’re expected to be the biggest hits of the year. But after “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” flopped with less than $500 million grossed worldwide, there’s a question of whether the critical and commercial struggles of that film will continue to sap Marvel of its pull on audiences and keep future titles from reaching the $750 million-plus benchmark that all of last year’s Marvel films were able to reach despite less-than-stellar receptions.