The first Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite Marvel movies in large part for how different it is from the rest of them. There are definitely certain beats that it hits that are similar, but it is not just the same origin story we’ve seen a dozen times now. Its combination of action, humor and music made for an perfect theater going experience and James Gunn voice was apparent throughout. Its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, doubles down on the things that made the first movie great. Instead of trying to go bigger than its predecessor, it digs in deeper with its characters to make an unusual and wonderful sequel.
I won’t deny that Guardians 2 gets kind of messy at times. There is plenty of convenience in the plot and characters have a habit of just flat out saying the themes in dialogue, tt splits the cast up into several smaller groups for most of the movie, limiting their ability to play off each other, and the final fight scene gets a little incoherent for stretches. None of that did much to lessen my enjoyment of the movie.
The plot involves giving the team exactly what they want, from Star-Lord meeting his dad to Rocket managing to push everyone away. But like in nearly all fiction, maybe the things they wanted are not what they needed. So obviously, things go awry. That is true for returning supporting characters as well. Nebula plays a big role again, with her allegiance shifting from being a villain to something more like a nemesis. Yondu, also sees a bigger role and reveals his true colors as the movie goes along. At the end, you really feel like you know these characters better than you did before.
The balance between characters isn’t perfect. Drax has little to do besides be nearly perfect comic relief and Rocket gets largely sidelined after the midpoint. New character Mantis’s role is small and very little about her is revealed. The movie also continues Marvel’s villain problem, with this movies bad guy ceasing to be interesting at all once his villainy is revealed. I don’t know that these are really problems. The movie is stuffed as it is, I don’t really see how much more they could have done with Rocket or Drax or Mantis without adding significantly to the movie.
The soundtrack, a big part of the first movies charm, is maybe even better here. This movie features some deeper cuts, and a does a little more work to call attention to itself, but it all works in context. It also retains the humor from the first movie. My two biggest complaints are about jokes that just absolutely didn’t land for me, but those are small problems in the deluge of moments that did work.
It also, to my complete delight, further embraces the acid trip weirdness of Marvel’s cosmic characters. We actually see the face on Ego The Living Planet. Yondu gets his full mohawk. It is just overall more willing to get weird with things, and that is what I love about comic books. I am glad to see them be rewarded for embracing this stuff rather than trying to sand it off. We’ve come a long way from the X-Men refusing to wear yellow in their first movie.
Maybe I am still just riding a sugar rush after watching this movie, but I loved it unreservedly. I haven’t really felt that way about one of these since the previous Guardians of the Galaxy, I guess. In some ways it is the perfect example of more of the same, in others is wonderfully different. I liked all of it.