Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – I loved the first movie, and I was definitely looking forward to this one, expecting humor, space travel, music from the seventies and eighties, and family dynamics among the team. And yes, it delivered. The main question remaining at the end of the first one was who Peter Quill’s father was. In the comics, it’s J’son, the humanoid and rather cruel king of the planet Spartax. The screenwriter made it clear that they were going with a different dad in the Cinematic Universe, however. It turns out to be Ego the Living Planet, who’s not only a fully conscious planet but is also capable of changing its landscape and devouring other beings.
The film does question how a planet can impregnate a human woman, and the answer is that Ego is able to manifest his consciousness in the form of Kurt Russell.
Apparently Ego in the comics is capable of creating humanoid extensions of himself, so there’s precedent for that. I believe I have read at least one comic story in which Ego made an appearance, but I didn’t get much of a sense of who he was. The Guardians encounter Ego after killing a monster that’s trying to devour some super-powerful batteries belonging to a species of arrogant gold-skinned humanoids known as the Sovereign, only to have Rocket Raccoon steal the batteries himself.
Star-Lord is initially excited to meet his father and learn of the powers he’s inherited, but later learns Ego’s plan to turn the entire universe into himself. As is typical of superhero movies, the plan doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Ego’s whole thing is that he’s lonely because he’s the only one of his kind, so his solution is to destroy all living things that aren’t him? But then, nobody said Ego, despite his powerful brain, was totally rational. And I’m sure we’ve all learned by now that few things are much dangerous than a bored immortal. He calls himself a Celestial, which he’s actually not in the comics, but the classification of god-level entities in the Marvel Universe is so complicated that I think the filmmakers can be forgiven for taking liberties with it. The last straw for Peter is when he finds out Ego killed his mother because he thought she was distracting him from his grand plan. Meanwhile, Peter’s surrogate father figure Yondu Udonta is charged by the Sovereign with hunting down the Guardians. When he corners Rocket and Groot, his crew thinks he’s gone soft and mutinies, with a guy named Taserface becoming their new leader.
The name comes from an alien character whose race developed a civilization around creations of Tony Stark’s, but none of that is mentioned in the movie.
Instead, the recurring gag with him is characters (mostly Rocket) laughing at his name. Yondu, his first mate Kraglin, Rocket, and Groot escape and help Peter and the other Guardians destroy Ego.
The film has family as a major theme, and purports that sometimes the family you make is more important than blood relatives. Peter learns that Yondu, for all his criminal activity and tough-guy posturing, was much more of a father to him than Ego ever was. Gamora also reunites with her sister Nebula, and they manage to bond over the trauma from being raised by a self-proclaimed death god.
Peter continues to have a thing for Gamora, but she doesn’t seem interested. While I don’t blame him for being attracted to her, I think the family theme makes it clear she sees him as more of a brother. I suppose Peter’s romance with Kitty Pryde won’t be in any future films as Fox owns the movie rights to her. Groot, who is still growing after the events of the last movie, is a baby throughout except in a mid-credits scene.
I’ve heard there were articles criticizing Baby Groot, but I didn’t really think he was featured enough to get annoying. Besides, the scene where he kept bringing the wrong items to Rocket and Yondu was funny. We’re also introduced to Mantis, a naive insect-like empath whom Ego is keeping like a pet.
Although Mantis in the film is fully alien instead of a human who was given power by aliens, there’s a nod to the comic version being German and Vietnamese in that the actress cast in the role, Pom Klementieff, is French, Russian, and Korean. Yeah, not exactly the same, but still of European and Asian descent. Her performance reminded me of Bjork, or maybe more of other people’s impressions of Bjork. I hadn’t realized Sylvester Stallone was going to be in the movie, nor did I know upon seeing him that his character was the same as Starhawk, one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.
Well, they were original in terms of when they were introduced, not in the fictional chronology, as they actually operated in the thirty-first century. Several other members of this team appear as well. Howard the Duck makes another cameo, and Stan Lee is seen talking to some seemingly indifferent Watchers. I believe Adam Warlock was a popular guess for Star-Lord’s father before this movie came out, and while he wasn’t, he will apparently play a role in later films.