Rating 5/5 – The reviews are in and every critic loves Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Most of the critics said that it isn’t as good as the first and the focus on Peter Quill and his daddy issues took away from the other characters. Saying “not good as the first” is lazy criticism. Nothing is ever as good as the first. It’s a law. Franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy are like putting on your favorite summer clothes and sneakers when you’re hanging out with good friends for the day. It’s satisfying because it’s familiar, you’re comfortable and you know you’re going to have a good time. For me, Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol 2 is an excellent follow-up to the first installment. The characters all had arcs and were given their time to shine. Where everyone started at the beginning of the movie is not the place that all ended. I usually do not care about spoilers. However, for this review, there’s a major spoiler I’m not going to reveal. Let’s dive in.
I Am Groot
Say what you want about Marvel, but they know how to market their movie and their characters. Does everyone love Drax and Rocket? Was Peter Quill the audience eyes for following the story? The answer to both of their questions is a resounding “YES!” However, the one thing everyone walked out of the first movie talking about was dancing Baby Groot. You couldn’t sneak past the Internet without some meme or gif with that image on it. It was clear, everyone loved Baby Groot. The marketing for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 hit the note on everything people loved from Guardians of the Galaxy. The team, the will they/won’t they kinda-sorta romance between Peter and Gamora, Rocket and heaping doses of Baby Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 opens with Baby Groot doing the most adorable dance you ever saw, including a call back to a funny moment from the first movie. Baby Groot steals the movie. I could not get enough of him. What they do with Baby Groot at the end of the movie is logical and hilarious. Get ready to come out of pocket for Christmas and Birthdays because Baby Groot orders are about to make a lot of marketers a lot of money.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Changes Everything. Again.
I’m writing a post about why Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is better than what DC is trying to pass off as a cinematic universe. One of the things is Marvel goes for it. The general audience of non-comic collectors will not get the references in this movie. I’m of the minority of comic readers that not only got the various Easter Eggs but got that orgasmic tingle every hardcore comic fan is going to walk out of this movie feeling. They say the movies come when the filmmaker has to overcome huge limitations. It doesn’t get more limited than having the movie rights to most of your big properties owned by other studios. Especially when most of those studios keep fucking those properties up. Marvel has to go for their less know properties, and they take advantage of this. First, they lay the groundwork, then they introduce concepts even comic fans couldn’t dream of seeing.
For instance, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 they introduce the Watchers. How? With a Stan Lee cameo that implies he is a Watcher. A “Watcher” is an extraterrestrial demi-god whose job is to observe what is happening around the universe, record it but never interfere. In Marvel, our Watcher is located on the moon and observes what is happening to the super-human community. There are a couple of interesting things that happens with this appearance. They use it for a Stan Lee cameo, explain why Stan Lee keeps popping up all over the MCU and they give hope to something everyone thinks needs to happen. They also put more menace in Thanos even though he’s nowhere to be seen in this movie. The big one is the introduction to a character who has been featured heavily in Marvel – Warlock. It’s not a “blink and you might miss it” moment. They spell it out in big neon letters.
But let’s go back to that other one.
This part is going to be pure speculation on my part. I don’t indulge in these things but that Stan Lee cameo will stir up some hope for something the fans actually want – the return of the Fantastic Four to the MCU. Let’s not lie to ourselves, it’s where they belong. But why do I believe this might be a thing. The following is not the major spoiler I mentioned earlier, but it is a spoiler just the same. In a scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 where Rocket, Groot and Yondu are trying to get to Peter, Gamora and Drax they use a jump-drive but Rocket makes it go with more power than needed. This leads to a scene where they’re being thrown bout the universe like a pinball. In one scene they show Stan Lee sitting down with a group of Watchers telling stories of his experience on Earth. This implies that Watchers exists in the MCU and Stan Lee is just a watcher in disguise. In one line of dialogue, Stan Lee says “One time I was a mailman.”
The deal Marvel made in the 1990s when they sold the movie rights to their big property to survive during bankruptcy was that the studios got the rights to the properties and all the characters associated with the properties. The Watchers were introduced in Fantastic Four #13 making them explicitly a Fantastic Four property – yet they were features in all their comic book glory in an MCU movie. The cameo when Stan Lee was a Mailman was in the first big budget Fantastic Four movie. A lot of channels on YouTube seem to be zeroing in on these things because there’s a lot of speculation that FOX might actually make some kind of deal to return the property. This scene is a huge move adding to the speculation this might happen.
The main focus of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is the relationship between Peter and his father which took some interesting directions. One of the directions it took might actually connect Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 with Earth. Every critic who claimed the Peter/father story took away from the other characters were watching a totally different movie than I was. Everyone got a nice balance of action and character moments. Even Yondu got one hell of a character arc that built off the last movie nicely. Giving Peter more of a heroes journey using his family issues was such an excellent touch that James Gunn and the writers should get an award for doing it in such a clever way. This movie has the “Luke, I’m your father” element of empire but also adds a “Luke, time to grow the fuck up” moment with it. This informed the larger story and did so with the usual expertise at character every Marvel movie has given us. Silvestor Stallone gets to be part of this storyline and it actually works. However one of the stand-out moments of character development was between Gamora and Nebula as we are given more insight into exactly how horrible Thanos is. This is done without showing Thonas once while giving the audience a clear idea of the kind of villain he could turn out to be.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a fun ride with the over the top action and excellent character moments you come to expect from this franchise. Baby Groot is a winner, and yes I will be owning one. Rocket gets to be even of a badass, the issues between Gamora and Nebula gets settles and one of the nit-picked plotholes from the first movie actually gets filled in. The movie told a self-contained story that is also nicely connect with the rest of the MCU and offers promises of bigger things to come. This movie is fun, character driven and 100% a home run for the MCU. Go see this movie twice and be part of making it the mega-hit it’s going to be. The best thing I can say about Guardians of the Galaxy 2? I AM GROOT!