Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
James Gunn set the bar extremely high with the first Guardians of the Galaxy. I would be a tall order to bring the same success, but in my opinion, he surpassed the greatness of Vol. 1. Guardians of the Galaxy was a perfect introduction to a new branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It introduced the strange rabbit hole that is Marvel’s cosmic universe. Vol. 2’s success is further engraining this strange new frontier into the casual marvel fans who have only barely begun to start leaving Earth.
Guardians Vol. 1 had a relatively straightforward storyline to ease casual fans into the cosmic universe. Your basic team of enemies coming together to become a team story to fight an overpowered baddie. We have seen this in a much simpler setting repeatedly. Vol. 2 however, dives headfirst into the weirdest parts of Marvel’s cosmic universe.
The film starts with a wonderfully de-aged Kurt Russell as Ego, carelessly driving through the countryside with Meredith Quill (Peter’s mother). Following the same format as the first film, we get a flashback (albeit a much happier flashback) followed by a jump in 34 years to catch up with our favorite band of space mercenaries. Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and the adorable Baby Groot are on another regular job, making a quick Unit. The team has developed some new tactics to go along with their evolved relationships. With all relationships, times creates more complications and emotions.
Gunn does a marvelous job taking some of the strangest storylines and characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and making them extremely relatable. This is the reason the Guardians of the Galaxy solo films will remain some of the favorite of casual MCU fans.
At the end of the first film, Kraglin and Yondu have a parting line about delivering Peter to his dad like they were hired to do. At the time, we did not know how important this line would be but it was a great foreshadow to Vol. 2. Peter’s daddy issues are front and center, weaved throughout the storyline of this film. As Peter and Ego are re-united after Ego saves The Guardians, it becomes clear how badly Peter wanted a father. Even when it becomes evident that things are not what it seems, Peter defends Ego. It is not until Ego shares his plan and a shocking revelation about Meredith Quill that Peter snaps out of it. In a touching moment that welled up my eyes, he realizes he has already found his family and in his desperation to have his father, he puts them all in jeopardy.
Going right along the daddy issues his in my opinion, the single strongest aspect of this film is Peter’s relationship with Yondu. Yondu raised Peter after picking him up from Earth when he was 10 years old. We find out the reason he kept him, was not only because “he was good for thieving” but because Yondu realized what Ego was doing. Peter comes to realize that Yondu was the father he always wanted. This really hit close to home for me personally, as I have gone through my difficulties with my own father. This goes back to Gunn’s masterful job keeping these larger than life, cosmic characters as the most relatable in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Beyond the dysfunctional fathers, Gunn dives deep into the relationship between the two sisters, Gamora and Nebula. A far more dysfunctional relationship, these two literally are trying to kill each other. Ultimately, their sisterly love shows through and they realize they cannot actually go through with it. This is another example of the grounded emotions this film is based on.
I have seen some criticism of there being too much emotion in a fun, action packed Marvel film. I would argue that this is what takes the film to the next level. The reason for the success is the grounded, flawed nature of the characters. In an incredibly un-relatable setting, James Gunn and the actors have created the most relatable characters in Marvel Cinematic Universe.