Anyone can save the Galaxy once, but you’ve got to be really cool to do it twice.
Since defeating Ronan at the end of the first film, the guardians have become known across the galaxy as heroes for hire. When their latest mission ends with them being hunted by the Sovereign, the people who hired them, the team are saved by a mysterious man called Ego who claims to be Star Lord’s father. Can Ego be trusted and will the team be able to keep their cool against the stuck up forces of the Sovereign?
Like the first instalment, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 pays more attention to the emotion journey of the team than pushing forward the overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’ve become a family and that dynamic is challenged when Star Lord has the opportunity to connect with his biological father. Meeting his dad is something that Peter has dreamed of ever since he was a child and while Ego seems perfect on the surface people rarely live up to such high expectations.
Ego may be Peter’s biological father, but, after his mother’s death, he was raised as a Ravager by Yondu. While their relationship isn’t perfect, they love each other and the film dives deeper into who Yondu is as a character and why he didn’t deliver Peter to Ego in the first place. Chris Pratt does an excellent job selling the emotional struggle of Peter/Star Lord while still being light and funny. Michael Rooker returns as Yondu the blue skinned badass leader of the Ravagers
Star Lord isn’t the only member of the team with family issues. Though Thanos is completely absent from the film, Nebula is back to get revenge on her sister Gamora. Since the dynamic between the two was already established in the first film, the story is able to explore Nebula’s motives in more detail making her a much more sympathetic character. Gamora is partly to blame for the pain Nebula has gone through, but neither sister really understands the other.
Continuing the overarching theme of family is Drax and his budding romance with Mantis, Ego’s pet/assistant. The guardians defeated Ronan so Drax’ search for revenge is over. Now that his family have been avenged, Drax can move on. Even if he finds Mantis horrifyingly ugly, she’s beautiful on the inside and doesn’t dance which is important since dancing is a deal breaker for Drax. According to him, the universe has two types of people in it those who dance and those who don’t.
Families don’t always get along and most people have that one person who you probably wouldn’t put up with if they weren’t part of your family. Rocket is that person. He’s funny, but the joke’s always at someone else’s expense. Over the course of the film he genuinely questions why anyone would put up with him and his overwhelming tendency to push people away. Seeing a lot of his traits in Yondu, Rocket is able to take a really good look at his true reflection.
The final member of the team is baby Groot. At the end of the previous film, Groot had to be regrown from a splinter. Having baby Groot interacting with each of the characters brings out the softer sides of their otherwise tough personas. Zoe Saldana did a great job balancing Gamora’s kickass personality with the sweeter moments that came from having her and Star Lord become sort of parental figures. Similarly, Dave Bautista’s Drax eventually warms to baby Groot as well.
The exploration of what constitutes a family is handled extremely well. Instead of beating the audience over the head with dialogue explaining how close the team are, it’s shown in every interaction between the characters throughout the story. So when Gamora finally calls Peter out on his need to find his father it’s easy to see were she’s coming from, which really drives home her point.
Though the film initially seems as though the story is going to be quite intimate, things escalate and we get to see many different parts of this amazing world. Each planet is visually unique and well realised. The exploration of different cultures, like the Sovereign, adds a layer of realism and their arcade style fighter pods and gold skin make them very memorable. Plus, the arcade scenes play well with the 80s music that has become a such vital part of the series.
There are a lot of cameos in the film, including one by Stan Lee. This is probably the best Stan Lee cameo to date. Those unfamiliar with obscure comic book characters may not immediately know why this cameo is so cool, so you may need to do some research afterwards. Make sure you don’t leave your seat too early though, because there are about five scenes that play during the credits. One of which introduces the character who will probably be the villain in Vol. 3.
An intimate story about family and loss that’s also an epic space adventure. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes what was established in the first film and builds on it making a much richer story without sacrificing the light hearted tone that made the original so great. While it doesn’t directly link to the impending infinity war, the Guardians will show up to fight Thanos. Only then will fans know which superhero team is cooler the Avengers of the Guardians of the Galaxy.