Beyond whether or not Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is good or not (it is), it’s interesting to take a step back and look at what Disney have transformed the property into. With the success of last year’s titles such as Deadpool and Suicide Squad, Disney have allowed to loosen its restraints on James Gunn to tap into his roots as a writer for cult studio Troma and offer their take on the more un-PC and edgy superhero movies being released. It’s almost incredulous to know that Disney allowed Gunn to write dialogue where Quill boasts that he’s a better pilot if he had a woman sucking his cock during flight. Of course, there’s always Iron Man, but even his bacchanalian and libidinous past demanded the hero to redeem himself and his addictions. Here, The Guardians of the Galaxy are unapologetic in their sanguinary, salacious, and scurrilous ways.
It’s certainly refreshing to see from Disney and Marvel’s MCU, and greatly overshadows many of the film’s unnecessary throwbacks to the first film (Is Howard the Duck really worthy of revisiting?) but it’s hard to imagine anything in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that might disappoint fans of the original. It’s as charming, funny, and exciting as its predecessor, while on a bigger scale that often comes expected of these sequels.
Taking its mark from other “Phase Two” sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 looks to flesh out and emphasize the dramatic complexities of its characters which definitely works, as Marvel’s characters have been the greatest asset to the cinematic universe as a whole. It might surprise many coming into the film that the majority of running time dedicates itself to the discovery of Quill’s father, Ego, and the relationship between the two and Quill’s departed mother. However, Rocket, Yondu, Nebula, Gamora, and, especially, Drax get their opportunities to add dimension for characters who will clearly suffer greatly in the upcoming Infinity Wars.
Unfortunately, like its predecessor, what flaws there were are still present with little to no changes. In the midst of all this attention to character, it’s not until the middle/end of the second act when Guardians realizes it doesn’t have a villain or setup for a climactic battle and cobbles together some twists and surprises that are thematically interesting but underwhelming from a narrative setup. Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tries to stir things up but suffers from a demanding adherence to the expanded universe and the intertextual continuity. Anyone expecting to see plot points that will have consequences in later Marvel Studios entries will be sorely disappointed, save for the in-canon confirmation to a long held fan theory that pops up in a delightful cameo.
However, it’s still a fun film for those looking for something a little bit different from other Marvel films. It seems almost inaccurate to refer to it as a superhero movie at all, since it very much mimics the sci-fi space opera genre in much the same way the first film did. Additionally, amidst all the post-credit sequences is included one setup that genuinely creates a level of intrigue that has not been felt since Samuel L. Jackson first appeared at the end of Iron Man 2. Whether we can expect another project from Marvel that nobody expected will only be known in due course, but for the moment, I’m definitely interested to see where they might take it.