Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 - Avengers: Infinity War Marvel MCU Movie Marathon
As we go to visit our favorite dysfunctional family in outer space, I wanted to again warn there will be spoilers.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was going to be a tall order because the first film is so loved by Marvel fans. While some people didn't like it as much, I personally love it as much as the first. If the first film was about building a family, this film was all about being a family and who you can depend on in times of need. It really was about the relationship building and I really felt it.
They display this family unit from the very beginning of the movie in the fight against the extra dimensional beast while protecting the batteries on the Sovereign homeworld. Groot (Vin Diesel), now a baby, is dancing about while all chaos goes on around him. And each member of the team expresses concern for him in their own way as if he is their actual child.
I should not say Groot is now a baby. Director James Gunn recently revealed that the Groot in this film is not the Groot from the first film, but his son. Many people love Baby Groot and others think he's too much. I'll admit that my preference is the adult Groot because I love his gentle giant quality, but I think Baby Groot is adorable and still love him.
Anyway, in this film about family, we look at Peter's (Chris Pratt) father, both his biological one in Ego (Kurt Russell) and his adopted one in Yondu (Michel Rooker). Peter has wanted to know his father was his whole life. Because his mother had brain cancer, everybody thought that she might have been confused describing him as an "angel." In his head, Peter's father looks like David Hasselhoff (or, as Gamora calls him "Zardu Hasselfrau" LOL). But, it turns out he is actually an ancient Celestial named Ego who took the form of a giant planet. While he takes a human form to relate to Peter, his end goal is to use him to take over the universe in his name.
At the same time, you have Yondu who kept him instead of delivering him to Ego. Part of this reason was that he had been kidnapping kids for Ego for years, making himself an outcast from other Ravager teams, and he kept Peter when he realized Ego was killing the children. But, Peter had always thought Yondu kept him because he made a good thief. And, despite threatening to eat him all the time, Yondu raised Peter and has always had a soft spot for him. So much so that his other Ravagers perform a mutiny against him.
In the end, Peter realizes that a family is not just biology, but those who care for you the most. Ego cared nothing for Peter. Yondu, however, makes the ultimate sacrifice for Peter by saving him at the end. Yondu says,"He may have been your father, boy. But he wasn't your daddy." I, of course, am in tears from that point until the end of the film with the Ravager funeral and Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" playing in the background.
When I heard Ego was going to be in this film and that he would be played in a human form by Kurt Russell, I couldn't imagine how they were going to portray this really way out there concept from the comics into the film. In the comics, Ego is one of the Elders of the Universe of which the Collector and the Grandmaster are part. They are so old that they are the last of their races. So, I was hoping they would have introduced that concept into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, they decided to go the way of the Celestials which are also from the comics. Knowhere in the first film is actually the head of a dead Celestial. I heard a rumor that they did this because Marvel Studios may be looking at a film about the Eternals, which are creations of the Celestials. I was glad, though, that they did eventually show his face on the planet as he appears in the comics. So, in the end, I was happy. And, Kurt Russell was great in the role and it was nice to see him back doing work at Disney!
Another major familial relationship explored in the film is the sisterhood between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). While the two hate each other, you can also tell that they subconsciously care for each other. At the beginning of the film, they make a deal with the Sovereign for Nebula to be given to them so they can take her to a prison on Xandar, saving her from death. When they were younger, Gamora would win the fights their adopted father Thanos would put them through. But, every time Nebula lost, Thanos would replace with machinery to make her better. And because of that, Nebula hates Gamora. Yet, she can't seem to kill her. She saves her a couple times in this movie. There is part of me that wonders if one of them dies in Avengers: Infinity War because one of them sacrifices themselves for the other.
Then, there is the Peter and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) dynamic. Rocket is like that troubled brother who feels he needs to do things to be seen as a bad ass. So, he steals the Anulax batteries from the Sovereign which get them into trouble in the first place. But, in the end, Rocket realizes that he is loved by the team and, despite the trouble he gets into, he is still a member of their family. I loved how Rocket learned this lesson through Yondu who said he knew who Rocket was because he IS him.
We also have the Peter and Gamora "unspoken" thing. The two of them care about each other, but Gamora is too guarded to let herself have feelings for Peter. Another sign of her keeping her emotions to herself is when Mantis (Pom Klementieff) tries to feel her feelings and Gamora almost snaps her arm off. But, in a film where everybody learns about family, Gamora finally lets her guard down at the end.
And finally, we have the relationship between Drax (David Bautista) and Mantis. While Drax doesn't want to admit it and thinks Mantis is hideous, her innocence reminds him of her daughter. But, he treats her more like a little sister. That moment Mantis feels Drax's memory of his daughter was an absolutely beautiful moment and one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Pom Klementieff's performance is amazing. From the moment she touches him, you can see the pain and the tears rolling down her cheeks. It's as if she can actually feel his pain.
Mantis is a far cry from the original half Vietnamese/half German hero with plant control power as created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck. Her story got really convoluted over the years with, at one point, her being called the "Celestial Madonna." She was "rebooted" so to speak when Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were redefining Marvel's cosmic world, including the Guardians of the Galaxy team on which the movie team is based. She then became a sort of kooky alien looking woman with precognitive powers. So, this version of Mantis is closer to the Abnett-Lanning version. Whatever the case, I love her. And, I'm glad that they did cast an Asian to play her to honor her original Asian roots.
I also can't not talk about the fact that the original Guardians of the Galaxy are in this film! They are from the Ravager teams who turned their backs on Yondu after he started kidnapping kids for Ego, which is against their code. As I mentioned in my blog about the first film, I told you that Yondu was one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy himself. Sylvester Stalone is Stakar Ogord who was known as Starhawk in the movie. His crystaline friend is Martinex, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor from Smallville!). Ving Rhames is Charlie-27. And Michelle Yeoh was Aleta Ogord (who was Starhawk's sister in the comics). Also on the team was space sorcerer Krugarr and artificial intelligence Mainframe (voiced by freakin' Miley Cyrus). I hope we will eventually see more of them in the future!
Speaking of Ravagers, I was floored when I learned that Taserface (Chris Sullivan), who leads the mutiny against Yondu, plays Toby on NBC's This Is Us. And, it was nice for Sean Gunn to have an expanded role as Kraglin. I wonder if he will become a member of the Guardians or if he will return to the Ravagers. I did not see him in the trailers for Avengers: Infinity War. So, maybe the latter?
The one thing that I've loved about the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is that the aliens are so colorful. I remember the original trilogy of Star Wars having so many colorful aliens, but have been muted to more skin toned colors in the new trilogy. But, in Guardians of the Galaxy, they are brightly colored.
You have Gamora's bright green skin, Yondu's and Nebula's bright blue skin and the Sovereign's bright gold skin. I was obsessed with the Sovereign, down to their gold eyes. And, I am so excited with the reveal of Ayesha's (Elizabeth Debicki) creation Adam. This, of course, is in reference to Adam Warlock from the comics who is a major figure in the Marvel cosmic world and was also a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Fun fact: The general who was reporting to Ayesha as the Sovereign pursued the Guardians was Benjamin Browder from the science fiction television show Farscape. In the film, we also see Kronans (the alien race of which Korg from Thor: Ragnarok is part) and the Watchers who always appear during apocalyptic events in the comics.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack to this film. Dare I say it? I liked it more than the first film,s soundtrack and I pretty much live that one. I think it's because I wasn't as familiar as the songs and feel like I found a long lost record that I can listen to all the time. I can't imagine my life without "Fox on the Run" or "Brandy" or "The Chain!"
Stan Lee Cameo: Traveler regaling the Watchers in stories of his travel.
The thing about Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is that I feel it had a lot of heart. It's about being a family and learning who your true family are. Any movie that can viscerally make me cry is a movie I can love.
Now, back on to Earth on a more local level with Spider-Man: Homecoming!