How ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ Beat Marvel’s Sequel Curse


'Age of Ultron' and 'Iron Man 2' couldn't top their predecessors, but a mix of emotion, character growth and personal stakes helped James Gunn's film rise above.
Courtesy of Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the nearly impossible task of living up to the expectations of the surprise 2014 hit — and in some rather surprising ways, it succeeded.

Marvel Studios has a mixed track record with second installments (there are few fans who would rank Iron Man 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron above their immediate predecessors, but Captain America: Winter Soldier is largely considered to top the first Cap movie). And while the reviews were positive, even many praising the film argued James Gunn’s followup didn’t totally recapture the magic of the first installment. I humbly submit that those claims are wrong, and here’s why:

Vol. 2 is more emotional than its predecessor.

Movies like The Avengers feature makeshift families, but never has a Marvel movie tackled the theme of family so poignantly. Unlike another Vin Diesel-starring blockbuster, the way writer-director James Gunn employs family throughout Guardians 2 makes it more than a buzzword. The main plot shows Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finally meeting his father, the man-shaped planet known as Ego (Kurt Russell), while Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) attempt to smooth over their rough history, and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) bonds with the Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker).

From the outset of the first Guardians, the mystery of Peter’s heritage has hovered over his arc; when he first meets Ego, he’s encouraged by Gamora to get to know the old man better. But Gunn’s script, aided by the performances from Pratt, Russell, and Rooker, gets at the larger question: does being Peter’s blood relative really make Ego his dad emotionally, or is that Yondu, his old overseer?

The third act makes it clear that the answer is the latter. Ego’s plan is to rebuild the universe and destroy the current one with Peter at his side, until he reveals he gave Peter’s mother the brain cancer that killed her. Then we learn that Yondu’s choice to abduct Peter as a youth was to save the boy from Ego, who deliberately impregnated life forms on various planets to gain a god-like progeny. He simply killed those who didn’t measure up. That revelation demonstrates that, of all relationships, the bond between Peter and Yondu…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

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Sasha Harriet

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