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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 takes theaters across the universe by meteor storm

graphic by Beau Cameron

graphic by Beau Cameron

by Beau Cameron, Managing Editor

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The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/y9p73

As a long time Marvel fan and comic connoisseur, I was skeptical about the developing Marvel cinema. The first Guardians of the Galaxy, however, solidified my faith in the budding franchise. The movie introduced lovable and intriguing characters with complex backgrounds. Its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, was released on May 5th, reigniting the Marvel community’s love for the ragtag team of space ex-criminals.

It’s difficult to discuss Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 without acknowledging the mastery present in its predecessor.

The first movie is all about the development of complex anti-heroes as they are forced to work as a team. In Volume 2, the team has been well-established as warriors for hire. They’re working a job for a race known as The Sovereign at the beginning of the movie–a group that Rocket accidentally antagonizes by stealing some of their batteries.

The second movie is, at its core, a sequel. It’s ability to stand alone may seem like a “yes” or “no” question, but it’s hardly that simple. For instance, Emily Reed said “I only watched forty-five minutes of the first movie before seeing the sequel, but I still understood and enjoyed it. Maybe it’s not quite a stand-alone movie, but it’s close enough.”

By incorporating elements from the previous movie, it becomes difficult to appreciate the depth of Volume 2’s storytelling and character development without seeing the first movie. However important plot pieces that were acknowledged in the first movie (Quill’s alien heritage, Gamora’s relationship with Nebula, Drax’s familial past, etc.) were readdressed so that first time watchers could keep up.

For followers of the franchise, the reveal of Quill’s father, Ego, was shocking. Already deeply invested in Quill’s emotional journey, seeing his search for answers come to a head was painful and brilliant. Viewers sensed the “off” feeling that Ego gave off, while simultaneously hoping that Quill could find his happy ending.

Characters such as Rocket, Drax, and Yondu had more screentime, and thus more time to be developed. Our perception of Yondu is transformed from the merciless ravager of the first movie to a good-natured but deeply broken man in the second. Rocket is no longer just comedic relief, but a being heavily struggling with questions of his own existence.

In one of the movie’s most moving scenes, the empath Mantis experiences Drax’s feelings. While he stares over a crystalline lake, musing about his lost wife and daughter, Mantis lays her hand on his shoulder. His feelings of grief and anguish overwhelm her before it settles into a numb pain. Mantis wasn’t the only one crying as Drax’s suffering, hidden behind a mask of physical toughness, became evident.

The relationship between Nebula and Gamora also received more attention. Nebula is portrayed as less of a villain, and more of a lost and lonely girl who feels betrayed by the one person she thought of as family. The forgiveness shared between the two sisters shows not only this previously unknown side of Nebula, but also the growth that has occurred in Gamora during her time with the Guardians.

Continuity between the films could also be found in the music. The first movie introduced a new sort of superhero soundtrack–70s rock. Marvel movies following this took notes, and we’ve begun to see more lyrical pieces in cinema. Of course, none will compare to the masterful soundtracks of the series. The sequel followed the same theme, with a wonderful soundtrack including music such as “Brandy by Looking Glass, “Come a Little Bit Closer by Jay and the Americans, “Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang by Silver, “Mr. Blue Sky by ELO and “Father and Son by Cat Stevens.

However, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is revolutionary in another way as well. There is something innately human about the characters, despite their alien origins. Quill and Gamora struggle to define their relationship. Rocket pushes away the ones he loves. Drax carries a deep pain from the loss of his family, but manages to remain strong. Nebula yearns for a sister. Yondu regrets his mistakes.

Despite the otherworldly setting, the Guardians of the Galaxy series addresses feelings that every earth-bound individual can relate to. Loyalty, family, grief- they are all intrinsic pieces of the human experience. Watching these characters struggle and mess up breeds a sense of familiarity. As someone with a sister who has made up for my mistakes and shortcomings time and time again, I’ve never felt closer to a character than when watching Gamora and Nebula.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was brilliant.  It combined the clever wit and lovable cast from the first movie and incorporated phenomenal character development, special effects, and an essence of humanity to create one of my new favorite films. The sequel may be stronger than the original, but the two movies as a whole are much greater than the sum of their parts. They’re deliciously human, extremely well-made, and reignite the sense of wonder and adventure that you feel opening your first comic.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 takes theaters across the universe by meteor storm