Back in 2014, a ragtag team of outcasts worked together to save the universe and become known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Coming off of a huge success, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had big shoes to fill. The previous film had opened up a whole new part of the MCU while also bringing a completely fresh style to the superhero movie genre. The Guardians were suddenly on the map and James Gunn breathed life into something that was a complete wildcard, and with a sequel, he would once again have to bring a fresh take to the screen. Guardians of the Galaxy is about heroes with a heart, which Volume 2 certainly doesn’t lack.
One of the best parts of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the team dynamic that Gunn has established. The first movie brought together a bunch of oddballs and Vol. 2 continues to display how much they have all grown together. The story introduces viewers to the same fun-loving characters but now with a little experience under their belts. The same dynamics and traits that were so beloved return and being heroes now comes easy. Yet, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t fully rely on these pairings to tell it’s story this time around. The film spends a lot of time on some odd couples, introducing new characters and further developing old ones. Yondu, Mantis and Nebula.
Yondu was a great part of the original Guardians movie but the choice to continue developing the character in Vol. 2 was a really ingenious move. The movie utilizes the character really well and weaves his importance to the team seamlessly within the story for one of the most respectful and heartwarming character arcs in the MCU. The plot focuses heavily on family and what that means to each of the characters, and for Peter, it all revolves around never knowing his birth father. There is a heavy emphasis on how Peter grew up throughout the film and in the end it’s clear that Yondu filled that void of a dad for him; however, Gunn doesn’t stop here and fills viewers in on the fact that Yondu was sold into slavery by his very own parents. It’s these deep moments that really show how well the story is put together and the depth that Gunn is able to provide all of these heroes with. His continued connection with Peter as well as his newfound one with Rocket is a great touch. Having Yondu be such a large emotional part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is unexpected but in the end raises the stakes, both emotionally and physically. The culmination of his arc shows that Guardians isn’t going to shy away from removing anyone, no matter how deserving they are of the screen time.
The same idea might also apply to a character like Nebula, who was also expanded on in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The first installment only told viewers that she was Gamora’s sister through their father Thanos, but Vol. 2 dove deeper into Nebula’s painful past. Gunn did a solid job of making Gamora a hero in both of his films but also nicely explored the dark side of her background shared with Nebula, a much more sympathetic character after the events of Vol. 2. The movie does a great job growing this relationship and proves that while siblings may fight growing up, their love will always prevail. Similarly to Yondu, Nebula is put in a position where this part of her story has been told and she doesn’t necessarily have to return to the franchise. James Gunn really locks down the stories that he wants to tell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and perfectly knows how to balance the present and future parts of his story.
Despite Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 possibly closing a chapter for some characters, it also introduces a couple of new ones. Mantis is a delight throughout the movie and fits right into the team. Her introduction through Ego is a clever way to work the character into the plot but her growth with the Guardians is going to be a really fun part of the series. Pom Klementieff did a good job with her role and brought a charming presence that Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had been lacking. Being so sheltered she has a lot of learning to do, but she brings an emotional aspect to the team that can’t be taught.
Ego was another super unique Marvel character for Gunn to utilize this time around. The character fills the antagonist role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 well and Kurt Russell once again shows why he’s such a great actor. Ego was a smart choice for the villain of Vol. 2 because he’s disposable. The Marvel films always have the same outcome for the majority of it’s villains and Ego is someone who helps expand the MCU as a whole while also being a character that Gunn can mold to fit the story he wants to tell. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 focuses it’s story on family right from the beginning and Ego is able to manipulate Peter into believing he finally has the incredible father figure he always dreamed about. Russell’s charm works well on screen, making it easy to buy into Peter’s distraction from the growing family around him. Ego ends up being a pretty clever villain which is a nice change after the first film had an aggressive war-minded Ronan. He presents a different kind of challenge for the team that delivers a fresh hurdle to overcome.
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did almost everything right, there are certain moments where the movie gets caught up in exposition. It becomes tough to try and communicate all of this rich history from comics, but it’s sort of a necessary evil. There are times when Vol. 2 makes a really nice attempt to have things explained slide through unnoticed, but characters end up talking a ton to help fill viewers in.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is easily a film that could have gotten caught up in the hype from it’s predecessor, but continues to deliver quality story. James Gunn clearly has a plan for where he wants to take things and really nailed this sequel. His ability to balance the individual depth of these characters with their growth as a team is wonderful because it delivers a concise and emotional movie. Vol. 2 really sticks to it’s guns and continues to show the importance of family through some amazing characters. The soundtrack is once again to die for and rounds out what is easily one of Marvel’s most solid movie franchises. Although Vol. 2 of their story is finished, Guardians of the Galaxy clearly is still only just getting started with the heartwarming adventures of a group of outcasts.
- Baby Groot throwing up like a… well a baby, was incredible.
- Also completely unsurprising to see Vin Diesel starring in another franchise that revolves around family.
- Watchers!!! Fun confirmation with Stan Lee but also a pretty neat physical thing to see on screen. That will be a fun element to watch the MCU develop!
- The visuals in this movie were stunning, Gunn really nails the setting and his vision.
- I’m pretty hype about the inclusion of the original Guardians team. It’s just so rad to see all of these characters who are appearing on screen in the MCU. With James Gunn recently saying the team might change in the future, it would be neat to see Stallone or Michael Rosenbaum return to the franchise.
- Adam Warlock… finally. I know Gunn wanted to include him in this movie, but to finally see a confirmed version of his cocoon was so satisfying. Seriously cannot wait for that character and story to enter the MCU.
- James Gunn, once again you have slayed the soundtrack! This one could possibly be better than the first.