The sequel to the surprise smash success of Guardians of the Galaxy is an interesting case to say the least. It is one of the more divisive films in the MCU, given that some people love the film as a great sequel to the first, while others think this is a mediocre follow up at best, falling in line with Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World.
However, it cannot be denied that Vol. 2 is one of the more ambitious of MCU sequels in terms of storytelling. Most MCU sequels up to this point retread the stories of the first films while trying to raise the stakes. Vol. 2 tells a story almost exclusively through character relating to one another and spending time together.
In this film, we see the hero and leader of the Guardians, Star Lord (aka Peter Quill) meet his birth father for the first time. His father is Ego, a living planet who is also a celestial being. He wants to finally be the father he should have been to Peter. The trouble is, Peter is skeptical of Ego and his intentions.
Vol. 2 is built on these one-on-one character interactions that give the film a unique tone and feel. Nebula confronts Gamora about her childhood trauma as a daughter of Thanos, Rocket Raccoon and Yondu realize that they are more similar than different, and Drax and the newest member of the family, Mantis, have interactions that make them both very relatable as alien species with different customs.
The film has some strong references and post credits scenes. The Stan Lee cameo is arguably the most notable, since it is a play on the popular Internet theory that Stan Lee is one of The Watchers, beings that keep an eye on the important events in the universe, and is why he shows up in every MCU film. While it does not appear he is a Watcher, we certainly see him converse with beings who are confirmed to be the Watchers, as he tells them of the time he appeared as a delivery man.
This film is not without its flaws and could have certainly done well with some polish. Certain jokes are included that could be considered immature or out of place based on the tone of the first Guardians of the Galaxy. In the director’s commentary, James Gunn even states that he had the script and story in a perfect place, but Kevin Feige made small notes and suggestions that led to the final product. Whether that is for better or worse will forever be up to speculation, but certainly is worthy of consideration given the strength of the core story.
Story and character make this film so easy to recommend. After multiple viewings, I can honestly say I grow a new appreciation or understanding each time, and the Guardians characters are clearly some of the most flushed out in the entire MCU. It is on Netflix at the moment, and is certainly worth a watch. However, if you are here to know what this movie offers in regards to Avengers: Infinity War, please continue with the understanding that these are spoilers for the film.
Nebula and Gamora are the closest to Thanos since they are the adopted, enhanced daughters of the Mad Titan. Through some expository dialogue with Kraglin, Nebula reveals that Thanos forced them to fight each other many times, and she would always lose. Because Thanos wanted his daughters to be able to match each other, Thanos would remove an organ or body part and replace it with machinery to better her chances of winning. However, Gamora was always the victor, making her the favorite daughter of Thanos, thus growing Nebula’s resentment and later hatred for Gamora. This gets across how much of a monster Thanos is as a being, as well as gives Nebula a reason to fight along the good guys come Infinity War.
One of the post credits scenes also offers a potentially interesting piece to the puzzle. High Priestess of the Sovereign Ayesha, one of the villains of the film, failed to destroy the Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket Raccoon stole some of the Sovereign’s most precious resources, Anulax batteries, which is an act of high treason and why Ayesha condemns them to death as a message to the rest of the galaxy. However, because she fails, she must face the consequences and meet with the council for wasting their resources in pursuit of the Guardians. Distraught, Ayesha constructs a new birthing chamber, for a being powerful enough to take out the Guardians easily. This is the puzzle piece of interest, because it is named Adam. It is clearly a reference to Adam Warlock, a being in the Marvel comics who is one of the few that can take on Thanos head-to-head. Whether the MCU’s Adam will fulfill such a role is up for complete speculation. But it is certainly one of the more exciting things to speculate about for Infinity War.
[Photos courtesy of Digital Trends, Marvel.com, and Geek and Sundry)