Three years after coming out of left field and becoming everyone’s favorite group of superheroes overnight, the A-holes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The first entries in these superhero outings from Marvel Studios are usually “fairly good.” But that was not the case with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which is arguably one of the very best movies to date in the MCU. So, going into Vol. 2, the expectations are fairly high. Vol. 2 hits all the right notes as a sequel; it’s bigger in every aspect – from scope to characters and action. Bigger can be better in many cases, but Vol. 2’s plot keeps those bigger things rather slender and rangy at times. But still, director James Gunn’s usage of these characters we’ve all come to know and love help propel this robust, entertaining sequel.
Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.
Most of Vol. 2 feels like a Saturday morning cartoon episode rather than a sequel with a plot that moves much of the overarching story forward in this eventual trilogy (Vol. 3 has been confirmed). In Vol. 2, we see the rag-tag bunch bicker over how to work as a team as they try to maneuver out of trouble. Names are called, feelings are hurt, and the team is left trying to figure out how they’ll get out of a sticky situation. This ultimately leads them to running into Peter Quill’s father, who was teased in the first entry. When revelations about Quill’s father are revealed, Vol. 2’s story begins to click and feel like a full-blown sequel.
Even though Vol. 2 feels episodic, all the humor you’ve come to know from the team is still there to make you laugh and the action never fails to disappoint (especially in a prison breakout sequence that might be the highlight of the movie). Also, still grade Grade-A this time around are the visual effects and killer soundtrack, which feature many classic hits. And the villains of Vol. 2? Well, we won’t dive much into that due to spoilers, but let’s just say they’re surprisingly better than what the MCU has offered in previous titles.
As you would expect, all the main characters in Guardians are back and wholeheartedly comical as ever. But in Vol. 2, some of them bring more depth to their characters, including Chris Pratt’s (Parks and Recreation) Peter Quill/Star Lord encountering his father (Ego, played by the always great Kurt Russell) for the first time and Michael Rooker’s (The Walking Dead) Yondu, who is the real MVP of Vol. 2 for multiple reasons (which won’t be spoiled here). These pivotal characters provide a good balance of drama to this space adventure’s routine jokes from the characters Drax and Rocket Racoon.
With that said, the characters Drax and Rocket Racoon deliver some of the movie’s best humor. Whether it be Drax (played with confidence by Dave Bautista) insulting someone unintentionally or Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) purposely insulting someone, you’re likely to burst out laughing whenever either one of these characters speak. We can’t forget the wonderful Zoe Saldana playing the fierce Gamora, or Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), who is as adorable as you would imagine given his small size. Creatively woven into the story rather than used as a marketing ploy, you’re likely to laugh just before you say, “Aww,” every time you see Baby Groot on the screen.
Director Gunn appreciates these characters and gives each of them just enough backstory to allow us to root for them all. Two movies about the Guardians of the Galaxy later, it’s hard not to love these guys more than many of the other characters in the MCU – from Iron Man all the way down to Doctor Strange. Watching these characters further develop by handling conflicts that help mold them is what largely makes Vol. 2 a worthy successor to a fantastic predecessor. While Vol. 2 is a notch below its marvellous, hard-to-top predecessor, it still provides plenty of reason to warrant more stories and further exploration of unknown areas for the Guardians to protect. And given the small indication in Vol.2 of what the Guardians will encounter next in Vol. 3, it could shape up to be an epic third entry. Fans of the series will know it once they see it.