The original Guardians of the Galaxy film was one that nobody saw coming. Based on one of Marvel’s more obscure comics, the film was a cosmic gamble that ultimately guarded Marvel’s premiere position in an increasingly vast galaxy of superhero films. Star-Lord and co had an appeal which many superheroes lacked. Despite not being on Earth, they feel more human and down-to-Earth than any other superhero to have ever graced the silver screen. With such success across the galaxy, will the Guardians prevail again in Vol 2?
Traveling throughout the galaxy can have adverse effects on the body and mind, and ultimately, it seems to have affected the guardians, as well.
Some of the effects of such a cosmic travel are good for the Guardians. When a film features more than one main character, it certainly isn’t easily to develop every character equally. When a story features more than one main hero, the focus tends to falter. Films like the recently-released Power Rangers failed miserably in this aspect, with the focus leaning too much on the Blue Ranger and Red Ranger. Meanwhile, Captain America: Civil War felt more like Iron Man: Ego War, with Tony Stark’s ego eclipsing the rest of the stellar cast, with only Zemo’s evil plan managing to break through it all. Fortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 doesn’t fall into that situation – instead, it floats in space gracefully. In a galaxy full of colorful characters, every character, both major and minor, and even good and bad, are given enough time to shine, which is something to marvel at. Even characters like Nebula and Yondu’s right-hand man Kraglin shine in this film. It’s a feat that even the Avengers had trouble pulling off – perhaps that’s why Civil War happened.
“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
One of the biggest surprises in this film is the development of Yondu’s character. In the first film, fans were a bit dismayed by how he is portrayed, because in the comics, Yondu was a main member of the Guardians. However, Vol 2 brilliantly fleshes out this out-of-this-Earth character in a way that really hits home. From his motivations as to why he kept Peter Quill, to his ultimate sacrifice towards the end of the film, his character is full of change and emotion which ultimately make him shine.
“I am your father!”
The other major surprise is in the villain of Vol 2. One of the biggest problems with most films is a weak, under-developed villain, but Marvel seems to have learned their lesson. Kurt Russell is a bit of an unusual choice for a villain, but he does the job very well and his charisma really brings his character Ego to a new high. Aptly-named Ego, you really feel his ego – it’s as big as a planet, yet not as annoying as Tony Stark’s ego. Initially, fans were wondering how making Ego the Living Planet as Peter Quill’s father would work (in the comics, Peter Quill’s father is J’Son of Spartax). Here, it really does work – from his egoistic plan of terra-forming other planets, to killing all his other children who didn’t inherit the celestial genes, to ultimately being revealed as the cause of Peter Quill’s mother’s death. It gives this seemingly otherworldly film a very Earthly, human touch.
Another thing worth mentioning here is how well-done the end credits scene and post-credits scenes (Yes, plural. There are a total of 5 post-credits scenes in Vol 2!). It’s rare to say that a credits roll would be entertaining to watch, but Vol 2 does just that. The five post-credit scenes interspersed throughout the credits are of major significance to the entire series and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Seeing Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, Ving Rhames and Miley Cyrus is a welcome surprise. and the teaser of Adam Warlock eventually joining the MCU is sure to delight fans. Plus, the entire credits roll is injected with humor, hilarious cameos and even “I am Groot” replacing names of the film crew temporarily, before being replaced by the crew member’s real name. Speaking of Groot…
“We… are… Groot!”
There’s Baby Groot! Groot stole the show in the first Guardians film, and in Vol 2, we’re left rooting for the cute little flora colossus. In the first film, Groot protected the rest of the guardians and ultimately sacrificed himself in doing so, so it’s nice to see role-reversal here, with the rest of the guardians returning the favor and protecting Baby Groot while he grows throughout the film. If there is any complaint at all to be had about Baby Groot, it’s that he doesn’t talk enough, though it’s understandable because he’s a baby, and in the first place, were plants meant to talk? Baby Groot’s charm is also in his physical presence, and his humor add a new dimension and appeal to an already appealing film.
However, on the topic of humor, some of the humor in Vol 2 is a bit over-done, especially Drax’s. Drax was a great character in the first Guardians film, but in Vol 2, the producers seem to have over-relied on his presence that his humor felt forced. It’s such a pity, because Dave Bautista portrays Drax’s character very well, but the overuse of a certain type of humor kind of takes a way from his character a bit.
“See, my son? That’s my plan. It’s that simple. It’s all about… me!”
Another glaring flaw in Vol 2 is the rather simplistic plot, which is such a contrast to how well-developed the characters are in this film. Past Marvel films, the first Guardians included, have had complex, bizarre plots, but Vol 2 is all about Peter Quill learning that Ego is his father and that he wants to destroy the world. That’s it. The film doesn’t even attempt to really link Guardians with the rest of the Marvel Universe in almost the entire film, which is quite a surprise. The film could have been a winner if the plot was developed a bit more, as the character development in Vol 2 is simply stellar.
The other major problem with Vol 2 is how there are a bit too many parallels to Star Wars. Father and son relationship problems? We have that in Star-Lord and Ego, check. Huge, planet-sized thing that can destroy the universe? We have that in Ego posing as the Death Star, check! Evil father who wants to rule the universe? We also have that in Ego, check! There are so many parallels to the Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker relationship, that they should have called this film Galaxy Wars: The Last Guardian. Plus, the focus on Ego (which is understandable, since he is supposed to have… well, ego…) makes viewers feel like Ego really needs an ego check. Also, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Han Solo dies in an attempt to save his son. Here, Yondu dies in a rather similar attempt… Check!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 may have its imperfections, but not only are the Guardians far from Earth, the film is far from horrible, too. It’s a good film that’s just lacking that special something. The most important thing to guard is one that cannot be found in the cosmos, and that is the soul. Perhaps that’s what the Guardians might have forgotten to protect in the process of protecting the galaxy.