It's May 5th, and if you are a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, you know what that means. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been released in the United States! Back when they announced the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, I thought for sure that this was an insane move for Marvel. Of course, I was thinking of the old team until I much belatedly discovered the 2008 comic run reboot, led by Star-Lord. It's quite clear that I was wrong. Marvel knew exactly what they were doing, and with the launch of the franchise, Cosmic Marvel was born on screen. Not only has Marvel Studios smashed yet again with Vol. 2, they continue to push the boundaries with their deep dives into genre.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a sci-fi, of course, but I'd be willing to bet that on even plane for categorical placement, would be comedy. This movie, is frikkin hilarious. With Star-Lord's charisma aside, the clash of culture and with several different origins from all over the galaxy creates a breeding ground for sarcasm and side splitting ignorance. I hardly doubt there is a stretch of 5 minutes when one could not go without laughing.
Still, amid the laughs, the film still accomplishes the task of creating emotional attachments to lovable characters. Marvel's films and TV shows have found the sweet spot when it comes to characterization. They write them as relatable beings, and give us a reason to care about them, as opposed to just "heroes" or "people with powers" and this is important for building great stories. At the same time, they managed to fill the movie with non-stop action and and scenes that can go down on various character's resumes for why they are "badass."
How Does it Relate to the MCU?
As it relates to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole it seems that this movie's main goal is to further expand Cosmic Marvel. The introduction of Celestials as a concept is huge. And its clear that they aren't afraid to take that even further with light references to things like Eternity, or even showing The Watchers. With introductions like this anything can happen! There was a little set up for Thanos in Avengers Infinity War when Nebula claims that she is going to kill him herself. This is a direct comic reference and likely something that we may see happen in the film.
Being the Marvel aficionado that I am, I look for my comic book references, in every comic based movie I see. There were quite a few in this film, and many origin stories were changed for the big screen, dare I say, in some cases, for the better. Whether these things were changed or not I'll list the most important of them and discuss them a little bit. Many
Check me on my comic knowledge if I'm wrong, but I believe this group was created for this movie specifically, and was perhaps a rough cosmic nod to the group (The Enclave) that created Ayesha and Adam Warlock. Ayesha, who, in the comics, was the second to be created by The Enclave, is the Queen of these people in the movie. Far different from her comic origins. Though there is no hard evidence relating to it, it reminds me very much of the comics' Universal Church of Truth, which worship The Magus (Adam Warlock's corrupted side).
This was the most exciting and different origin in the entire movie. Ego, in the comics, is a living planet who was created by one of the cosmic beings known as "The Stranger." He is supremely intelligent and powerful. The movie took this idea and twisted it into something amazing. Instead of being a creation of a cosmic being, he is a cosmic being himself, one of those known as the Celestials. As found recently in Marvel Comics Ultimates 2 #6, the celestials were created by the First Firmament, and and architects of the universe, and thus vastly powerful beings. In the movie, his power is quite well portrayed, and he created his own living planet with his core at the center, making it essentially, him. The larger spin is that instead of Jason of Sparta being Quill's father, it is Ego. Probably the best change I've seen from the canon in the MCU, yet.
Mantis is another member of the Guardians and if you read the 2008 run of her you'll remember as green... however she was originally the skin tone that we see in the movie, part of which is during the time she spent with the Avengers. She's a telepath, and eventually became the celestial Madonna, but in the movie they made her instead an alien life form that has strong powers associated with empathy. I don't mind this change at all, and personality wise, like the other aliens in these films, she's extremely likable.
Were you watching for Stan Lee's cameo? I sure hope you were. Those big headed people he was sitting with between dimensions are called The Watchers. The most notable of them is Uatu, who lives on the Blue Area of the Moon. They are a powerful race whose job is to do nothing but watch and record the events of the universe, and never to intervene. (Though it is fun to note that almost every time Uatu shows himself in the comics, it is to do just that).
After the success of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, a team known as the Ravagers, lead by a present day Yondu was introduced in the comics. This is a case where a movie was the actual origin of a team as opposed to the comics being the originator. As you can see, they are basically a bunch of space pirates. In the movie, many of them are references to the original members of the Guardians, such as Stakar/Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone), Aleta (Michele Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Krugar, Mainframe (Miley Cyrus), and Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum). It's possible that we will be seeing them again in the future.
The Post-Credit Scenes
The first of the four that were shown was again a strong nod to members of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team and the Ravagers. The members shown are listed above. The second post credit scene speaks directly to what all cosmic Marvel fans have been looking forward to. Finally, after what has felt like forever, we have strong confirmation that we are getting Adam Warlock. The pod that Ayesha references is directly related the cocoon from which he came in the comics. I cannot wait to see him in Vol. 3. The third scene depicted teenage Groot, and this is pretty self explanatory. When Groot is destroyed he can grow back, but when he does in the movies, he goes through all of the stages of development to do so. Another nod to an ability the character has in the comics. Last and certainly not least, we get another scene with Stan Lee hanging with the watchers, as noted above.
Other fun, notable references.
- The fin that Yondu upgrades to is a direct reference to his original comic counterpart.
- Near the beginning, Groot has a "moment" with Drax, referencing the first film (you'll know it when you see it).
- Howard the duck can be seen talking in an intergalactic bar.
- We can see a couple of Kronan's fighting as Rocket and Yondu hop through space. (Rewatch Thor: The Dark World).
- At the beginning to film Star-Lord is playing the classic football hand held game.
- Rocket is referred to the trash panda meme.
- The Marvel concept (and entity) of Eternity is directly referenced, as Quill's eyes fill with stars
- The failed microsoft MP3 Player- The Zune
I greatly enjoyed this film and I can’t wait until the Vol. 3 drops. Standing ovation for yet another success for Marvel Studios. Well done!
Partially as written on The Marvel Report.