When I heard about the first movie going into production, I was a skeptic about how Guardians of the Galaxy would fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I admit, my bias towards the Starjammers was part of their leap into space, but I also knew that the economic realities that existed at Fox in 2013 would never have allowed Marvel to use any characters or teams so closely associated with the X-Men.
After seeing that first Guardians film, I couldn’t wait for more. James Gunn had made a fun comic movie, with some dark overtones but able to not dwell on them. I also couldn’t wait to see where things would go in Vol 2.
Expectations exceeded, on all counts.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is all about family, more importantly, how connections with the families we choose end up shaping our values and loyalties more strongly than the ones with the relatives we sometimes feel obligated to for no other reason than birth connections. We have seen time and again how sometimes, the people we believe will unconditionally watch our backs are actually the ones painting targets on them.
First, this is a superhero movie so saturated in vibrant colors you can’t help but feel a childlike joy throughout. The banter is just as fast, and I think only one or two one-liners fell a little flat, but the relationships between the team members is given much greater depth, and it’s well-earned.
We see how Yondu is actually on the outs with the Ravagers because of violating their code of honor, and how much it bothers him that he doesn’t seem to be able to see a way to earn their forgiveness. That violation also ties directly into why he picked up Peter on Earth after his mother died, and to what has made Peter the man he is at this moment.
The tension of attraction that Peter has for Gamora is played with almost adorable dorkiness, which is made even funnier by Drax’s blunt observations on what he thinks could be a disaster for Peter. We have Rocket feeling like an outcast, something that he unknowingly shares with Yondu, and everyone taking turns keeping an eye on Baby Groot to make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble or danger. Even Nebula’s return is fueled by unresolved anger towards her sister, Gamora, and Mantis’ loyalties to Peter’s father, Ego, are tested when Peter arrives.
The less spoilers revealed about the methods and madness behind Peter’s father’s goals, the better, because the emotional journey that Peters goes on after meeting his father to bring everything to a head is well worth it. Suffice to say, the emotional connections between Peter and his friends make it tough not to get a little weepy in a couple of places.
The continual pursuit by The Sovereign, and the reasons they are chasing the Guardians is hilarious, as are their reactions to being repeatedly frustrated in their attempts to avenge a gross breach of contract and etiquette. Even that seemingly offhanded action (Rocket’s theft and insults) results in a surprisingly emotional reveal. It also leads to a much-anticipated reveal in one of the post-credits scenes, but one that might not pay off for another 3-4 years.
The one (minor, nitpicky) drawback for me was the 3D. I saw this in IMAX, and I’m not sure if the issue lie in the 3D glasses or in my eyes getting older. I didn’t see as much immersion in scenes, nor much that would have been enhanced by the 3D effect. So far, the only movies I’ve seen in IMAX that really took advantage were Deathly Hollows Part 2 and Pacific Rim.
And yes, there are a handful of credits scenes, some of which only die-hard Marvel Comics fans might understand the full extent of, but that doesn’t make them any less fun, laying more breadcrumbs for future movies. And yeah, if they do a throwback Guardians short film featuring Stallone’s team, given that Marvel wants him for more films period, I’m all for it (read more about the post-credits scenes breakdown here, spoiler warnings).
Oh, and the soundtrack is genuinely awesome. I could kiss James Gunn for including Parliament’s “Flashlight”… it was a track on the very first mix tape I ever made.
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell
Directed by: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn