Three years ago. many were introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy. The success of the first movie surprised many. Among the five main characters, the two most recognizable actors were only doing voice work, Vin Diesel as Groot and Bradley Cooper as Rocket. Zoe Saldana was hidden behind alien makeup. At the time, Chris Pratt was just some goofy guy on Parks and Recreation. Then there’s former pro-wrestler Dave Bautista rounding out the cast. Not exactly the standard formula for a success. But it was successful. The Marvel machine was rolling, and word of mouth on the movie was incredibly positive. The movie went on to gross over $770 million world-wide at the box office.
And now, we have the highly anticipated sequel. While overall enjoying the movie, there were some positives and negatives that jumped out to me. Spoilers ahead.
The main plot point of the story is Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, finding out that Ego the Living Planet, played by Kurt Russel is his father. Now, Ego is a Celestial, making Peter part Celestial. This explained as the real reason Peter was able to possess the Infinity Stone at the end of the first movie. Not the power of friendship, or some other nonsense. There is also an ongoing thread where the Sovereign, who had initially hired the Guardians to protect some batteries from some alien monster, but were now after the Guardians because Rocket had stolen those same batteries.
Interspersed within the larger plot points, there is some good characterization. In my mind, this is what makes the movie as good as it is. There are some really great moments where we see what motivates the side characters. For instance, we find out why Yondu never delivered Peter Quill to his father, and how that connects with his status with the larger Ravager organization. From the end of the first movie, we knew that Yondu knows who Peter’s father is, but it was unclear why Yondu never delivered him. The excuse was because Peter was small and could fit into small spaces.
Early on, it’s implied that this kidnapping was responsible for Yondu being expelled from the larger Ravager organization when Sylvester Stallone’s character references that Yondu broke a Ravager rule to never deal in children. But it is much larger than just Peter. Yondu had trafficked other children as well, but Peter was the last. Yondu had felt guilty about what he had done, which is why he always let Peter off the hook, despite the growing anxiousness of a part of his crew. It also why he simply accepts his punishment with the Ravagers.
Also, the relationship between Gamora and Nebula is expanded upon. Before, Nebula was shown as simply being the evil sister that didn’t betray Thanos and leave. Here, Gamora and Nebula are actually able to interact. We get a glimpse into their childhood, and why Nebula is the way she is. There is also some history of Drax given, but it’s difficult to see if it is character growth. Which leads me into what I did not like about this movie.
I do not like the characterization of Drax in this movie, not because of Bautista’s portrayal, but rather, how the character was written. Too frequently it seemed like they rely heavily on Drax just saying something outlandish or insulting to Mantis, and calling it comedy. Previously, Drax was just blunt. If something was brought up, he would not mince words, and just say what was on his mind. In Vol. 2, it seems like he is not just being blunt, but rather is mean about things. When he calls Mantis ugly, there is no point to it. And it happens frequently.
I do recommend seeing this movie. At its core, there is a nice story, and I hope that is what people take away. The movie is good because there is a nice story providing a strong backbone. It is not good because of things like Yondu saying “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all.”