“He may have been ya father, boy. But he weren’t ya daddy.”

Pretty early on in Thor: Ragnarok I realised something kind of incredible. The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the first film series in history to take nearly twenty movies to hit its stride.  That’s not to say the preceding movies were bad. In fact, the single thing you can take as granted about the series is that they are “not bad” (on the big screen anyway). There isn’t a single one in the canon that, if it were to randomly show up on TV while I was channel surfing, that I wouldn’t happily stop and watch. The two worst movies in this series, by my reckoning, are The Incredible Hulk and Doctor Strange. The first is a perfectly competent action/monster movie and the second is a an absolutely visually gorgeous fantasy let down by seriously derivative plotting. If those are your turkeys, your good movies are presumably pretty darn good. And they are. Marvel and Disney have honed to near perfection the art of crafting, big, fun, colourful summer superhero flicks. They’re not going to end up on anyone’s list of all time great films but they’re excellent examples of their genre.

But here’s the thing…they’re getting better. A few missteps now and then, but overall the trajectory has been up and up. And you can tell that Marvel have  been paying very serious attention to the criticisms that their movies have been getting, creating better villains, better visuals, and hiring genuine idiosyncratic directing talent over journeymen.  Crazy as it sounds, I think we’re getting to the point where Marvel’s movies stop being merely “fun” and becoming actually…artistically noteworthy. In fact, we might already be there.

The Guardians of the Galaxy series is sneaky. When Vol 1 was first released it was praised pretty much for being irrelevant. Here was a nice, fun little romp off in a corner of the Marvel universe almost wholly unconnected from everything else that was going on. It stood on its own. It was funny and colourful and had a cool soundtrack and there were dick jokes and a talking tree.

“I am Groot.”

He was Groot. Gotta give him that.

You wouldn’t have pegged it as the strand of the Marvel carpet that would deliver an achingly sincere exploration of coping with abuse and trauma (and before you do anything else, you should check out Lindsay Ellis’ fantastic analysis of those very themes within the movie). Her review is one of those rare ones that completely reordered my thinking on a movie, pushing Guardians 2 from “fun” to “essential” in my personal assessment. And if you find me making a point that seems awfully similar to one she already made then you’re almost certainly right, and she almost certainly did and I am almost certainly playing particularly pathetic catch up. It’s just, once you understand that the movie is about what it’s about, it’s kind of impossible to talk about it like it’s anything else, like trying to not see the hidden image in an optical illusion once you’ve already found it. Although, looking back, we probably should have twigged that James Gunn was playing a deeper game. Remember the scene on Knowhere where Rocket pulls a gun on Drax because he thinks he’s mocking him  (“He thinks I’m some weird thing, he does!!). It’s a jarring scene, the funny talking racoon suddenly having an existential melt-down. Look at Chris Pratt’s face in that scene, Peter Quill is thinking pretty much the exact same thing: “Where the fuck did this come from?!”. It’s only with Vol 2, that the series’ Trojan Horse gambit finally becomes clear. These characters don’t act like your typical quippy, sarcastic, vaguely assholish protagonists in a 21st century American action comedy because they  are your typical quippy, sarcastic, vaguely assholish protagonists in a 21st century American action comedy. They act that way because they are all, fundamentally, horribly damaged and trying to avoid taking on any more trauma. It’s in Volume 2 where the characters finally begin to let down their defences one after the other and where the Guardians series, initially viewed as one of the most frivolous and shallow corners of the MCU, reveals itself to be the most emotionally sincere and essential part of the whole damn project. But, y’know. With dick jokes and a talking tree.

After the 36 goddamn seconds of languid multi-coloured masturbation that is the new Marvel Studios Intro (not a fan) we find ourselves in Missouri in 1980. Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) is driving through the countryside with her boyfriend Ego (Kurt Russell). Russell is made to look 30 years younger here through some damn impressive CGI, or possibly it’s one of the clones of Russell that Walt Disney ordered made right before his death.

“‘Alleged death’, thank you very much.”

Ego shows Meredith a weird glowey flower that he’s planted in the Earth’s soil and tells her that soon they’ll be everywhere in the universe. Because Meredith has apparently been ingesting some exotic herbs herself she simply says “I don’t know what you’re saying but I like the way you say it” and they kiss. Flashforward 34 years.

The guardians have been summoned by an alien species called The Sovereign to their planet which is called…um, The Sovereign.

It’s the planetary equivalent of terraced housing.

The Guardians have been hired to stop a gigantic space monster from eating the Sovereign’s batteries. How they knew the monster was going to be there, I have no idea. Maybe one of his monster friends ratted him out. Anyway, the monster lands from the sky and Peter yells “Showtime, a-holes!” which is significant because it is showtime and they are indeed a-holes. They bicker, they complain, they take cheap shots at each other (figuratively) while taking shots at the monster (literally). The opening fight continues the Guardians tradition of basically trolling the audience. Whereas Guardians had Peter dancing around an alien planet punting mutant rats to the tune of “Come and Get Your Love” apropos of absolutely nothing, Vol 2 instead follows Baby Groot as he dances to “Mr Blue Sky” while the entire epic battle between the Guardians and the giant monster is kept almost entirely offscreen. But here’s the thing, much like how the characters are not actually as massive a-holes as they first appear, the movie is trolling you to make a serious point. During this sequence, every member of the Guardians saves or protects Baby Groot. Baby Groot is what makes this group of knuckleheads a family, what brings them together and redeems them both in each other’s eyes and in the eyes of the audience.

After Gamora slits the beastie from neck to nuts, the Guardians go to collect their reward from the Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). The Sovereign are a bunch of xenophobic racists who coat everything in gold…

“Make the joke Mouse! Make the joke!”
“Fine, fine, fine…”

The Sovereign hand over Nebula (Karen Gillen), who they caught trying to steal their precious batteries and the high priestess makes some casually eugenicist remarks about Peter being a hybrid. That bit of unpleasantness  dispensed with they take off for Xandar to collect the bounty on Nebula.

Unfortunately, they’re quickly followed by a fleet of Sovereign fighters because Rocket, little furry sociopath that he is, decided it would be a great idea to steal some of the Sovereign’s batteries for himself.  Things look pretty grim for our (anti)heroes as they’re swarmed by hundreds of Sovereign unmanned drones because the Sovereign may be bigoted, narcissistic assholes but they are also possibly the first alien race in all of fiction to realise that if you have enough technology to send spaceships flying through the void at super luminal velocities you probably already have the technology to pilot them remotely from the safety and comfort of your couch.

Anyway, The Sovereign chase the Milano into a Quantum Asteroid Field which is (or possibly isn’t) a field of floating space debris. Unfortunately, Rocket and Peter both try to pilot the ship and then threaten each other with Drax’s famously large turds so as you can imagine they don’t produce their best work and the Milano gets shot up real bad. It almost looks like its all over but then a mysterious egg-shaped ship appears and blows all the Sovereign fighters to hell. The Milano crashlands on a nearby planet and Gamora reads Quill and Rocket the riot act for trashing their home and almost getting everyone killed. She says that either of them could have gotten the ship through safely if they’d been flying with their heads instead of what’s between their legs, and Peter counters that if little Starlord did have a hand on the end it would be a better pilot than Rocket (and also a better penis now that I think about it). This little family tiff is broken up by the arrival of the Egg Ship which lands nearby. Ego emerges with his pet bug lady Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and tells Peter that he’s his Dad.

We now shift to the snowy planet of Contraxia, where Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the rest of his Ravagers are hanging around a real classy establishment called the Iron Lotus and it’s this sequence right here that made me fall in love with this movie.

Okay, I got this off VLC and the picture quality is ASS but trust me, its real pretty.

Just…umph. I love it. The snow, the neon, the yellow sexbots, a half-naked blue Michael Rooker. It’s the bucket list.  I love how this movie looks. Yondu sees a familiar face, Ravager Chief Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) and tries to talk to him but Stakar gives him the cold shoulder, telling Yondu that his name is dirt with the other Ravagers ever since he broke their most important code.

“YOU BETRAYED THE LAW!”

He tells Yondu to never show his face around decent, murderin’, pillagin’ Ravagers again and screws off. The rest of Yondu’s Ravagers, meanwhile, are starting to become dissatisfied with Yondu’s leadership, particularly Tazerface who, like Iago, secretly plots and conspires against his unsuspecting captain.

“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
  For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.”

 Yondu is (gingerly) approached by Ayesha who hires the Ravagers to track, kill and clean the Guardians for stealing her batteries and also to make Rocket into a Davey Crockett hat, a job that Yondu gladly accepts.

Meanwhile, Ego tells Peter that he’s been searching for him ever since Yondu decided to keep him for himself. Ego says he could never understand why and Peter says it’s because, as a skinny little kid, he was good for getting into tight places and extracting tight valuables. Ego invites him and the Guardians back to his planet so that he can finally fulfill his “special destiny”. Even Quill’s not that dumb and tells Gamora that the whole thing has trap-stink but she reminds him that he spent his childhood telling the other kids that David Hasselhoff was his Dad and that he finally has a chance to have a Hoff of his own. Plus, if it turns out Ego is evil, they can just kill him (spoiler, he is, they do).

So its decided that Quill, Gamora and Drax will return to Ego’s Planet with Ego and Mantis while Rocket and Groot guard Nebula and fix the ship. Drax worries about splitting the group up and Peter says “You’re like an old woman” and Drax answers “Why? Because I’m wise?” which is a great line. Actually, let’s talk about Drax.

While I am ninety nine per cent on board with everything they’re doing with Drax in this sequel (the sensitive nipples, the oversharing, the famously large turds) I really, really,really do not like Drax’s constant negging of Mantis. I mean okay, maybe he doesn’t find her attractive and he doesn’t see anything wrong with telling her that because he’s Drax, fine, but by the sixth or seventh time it’s gone from “funny” to “mean” to “okay no seriously are you trying to get her to join your cult, what’s with the constant humiliation?” It is not cool and it likes me not.

Anyway, Drax is wise and it was stupid to split up the team because the Ravagers arrive in the middle of the night and Rocket has to fight them off single handed before finally getting captured. Yondu tells Rocket that he’ll let him and the Guardians go free in exchange for the batteries they stole and the rest of the Ravagers are all “…what?” Even Kraglin (Sean Gunn) the most loyal of all Yondu’s men, says that Yondu keeps protecting Quill no matter how much he lies to them (they’re still sore about losing the Infinity Stone and only getting a lousy Troll doll). Yondu claims that he’s just being practical because killing the Guardians of the Galaxy will bring the Nova Corps crashing down on them, but nobody’s buying it, least of all Tazerface who declares his candidacy for Yondu’s job. Yondu is about to whistle him up a little ditty of death with his flying arrow, but gets shot in the head by Nebula, who convinced Groot to free her so that she could rescue Rocket.

Meanwhile, Ego is showing the other Guardians around his planet on his cosmic flying mouth guard.

Ego shows them around…himself because he is the planet and the planet is him. He explains that he is a celestial who travelled the universe searching for meaning and that’s how he met Peter’s mother. And now, Peter can finally take his rightful place by his old man as a Celestial.

So a little background on Ego: He was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and first appeared in the pages of Thor in 1966. However, he’s usually considered a Fantastic Four villain, which means that Fox technically owned the movie rights to him along with all the other Fantastic Four related properties they’ve been doing such a bang up job of looking after. The creators only realised quite late in the day that they didn’t have the rights to Ego and had no back up plan if they couldn’t get him because he was too perfect for their concept of the villain (I mean, he’s a planet sized manifestation of pure selfishness called “Ego”.  It’s not like they could just swap in Stilt-Man). This led to a frantic sit down with Fox where Marvel were able to get the rights for Ego in exchange for Fox being able to change Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s powers in Deadpool. And is it just me that adores the idea of all those super serious studio suits sitting around swapping superhero rights like kids in a playground trading Top Trumps?

“Okay, we’ll give you Cloak and Dagger in exchange for half the Spider-man T-shirt sales, the Howard the Duck TV rights and your ultra-rare Pikachu card.” “Who do you think I am, Sony?”

Anyway, Ego tries to teach Peter how to manipulate matter and Peter is shocked to discover he can tap into the energies of the planet. This makes him pretty darn cocky and so he puts the moves on Gamora, telling her it’s about time to end their “Sam and Diane, will-they-won’t-they thing”. This leads to a row where Gamora storms off yelling “I DON’T KNOW WHAT CHEERS IS!”

“IT’S A PLACE GAMORA! WHERE EVERY BODY KNOWS YOUR NAME! AND THEY’RE ALWAYS GLAD YOU CAME!”

Gamora doesn’t trust Ego because, y’know, the main villain hasn’t been revealed yet and he’s a big Hollywood star so she goes exploring.

Back at the Ravager’s ship, Tazerface and the rest of the Ravagers straight up murder those of their number who’re still loyal to Yondu as they beg their almost comatose captain to save them (all except Kraglin) and they lock Rocket and Yondu up in the brig. Nebula is all “Mwah, mwah, buh-bye” and flies off to find and kill her sister.  Then the Ravagers make Baby Groot their mascot and pour beer on him and I can absolutely understand the reasoning that went into that scene.

“Okay, so in this scene Rocket Racoon and Yondu brutally massacre literally hundreds of Ravagers.”

“I dunno, isn’t that a little extreme? We want them to still be sympathetic to the audience.”

“Oh it’s fine. We show the Ravagers laughing as they throw men into the icy void of space while they plead desperately for their lives. That way the audience don’t feel sorry for them when they’re killed.”

“Hmmmm…”

“Also, we show them being mean to Baby Groot.”

“ KILL THEM ALL!”

Anyway, Kraglin and Baby Groot free Yondu and Rocket and Yondu uses his new prototype fin to straight up massacre every single last member of his crew. But of course, they were mean to Baby Groot so this Old Testament-esque spree killing is perfectly justified. Yondu sets the ship to self-destruct and they fly off in a shuttle to find the rest of the Guardians but not before Tazerface is able to contact the Sovereign and rat them out, with the last thing he hears being the Sovereign laughing at his dumbass name.

Back on Ego, Gamora is attacked by Nebula and they have a big epic, drawn out battle that only ends when Nebula admits that she never wanted to beat Gamora, she just wanted a sister. And we learn that every time Nebula lost to Gamora, Thanos cut away another part of her and replaced it with metal parts.

For a long time after I saw this movie two scenes really stuck with me, really stayed with me. If I’m honest, that’s something that doesn’t really happen with Marvel movies. I love these films, but it’s not like they sear themselves into my soul. They’re disposable, they’re supposed to be. But Guardians 2 was different. The first scene was the one I already talked about, Yondu looking out the window of the Iron Lotus, but that’s just because I think it’s an absolutely gorgeous shot and I love the use of colour.

The second was this:

That image of Gamora with the big massive cannon on her shoulder, face contorted in a snarl as she unleashes fiery death on her adopted sister really lodged itself in my brain and I think I’ve finally figured out why. At their best, comics take our everyday, emotional struggles and alchemise them into big, epic, literal confrontations. If you have siblings, you’ve probably had, at some point, a big, awful, no-holds-barred, here’s-what-I-really-think, yelling, crying, screaming row. And you almost certainly didn’t fire a massive space cannon at them. But you equally almost certainly felt like you were. There is something so gosh-darned real about this scene of multi-coloured Amazon space women trying to kill each other on a planet who is also Kurt Russell. It’s raw and visceral and it hurts. Because when you take away the lazers, and the silly names, and all the sci-fi trappings it boils down to one horribly damaged woman telling her sister: “You knew what Dad was doing. You did nothing.”

This movie, man.

While trying to find a way out of a series of catacombs, Nebula and Gamora come across a massive pile of bones of countless different species. Meanwhile, Mantis confesses to Drax what Ego is actually up to. He’s been fathering offspring for years to find one that would be compatible with him and help him spread throughout the universe until the only thing left in all creation is him. Because obviously, the only thing that matters to Ego is Ego.

See? It just wouldn’t have worked with Stilt Man.

He brainwashes Peter to go along with this and it almost works until he makes the mistake of revealing that he was the one who gave Meredith Quill cancer and destroys Peter’s Walkman to try and sever his last connection to humanity. This causes Peter to go berserk and blast his Dad so hard he turns into David Hasselhoff.

If you haven’t seen the movie and can’t tell if I’m being serious, yes, that is an actual thing that happens.

Ego activates the flowers that he’s planted throughout the universe which causes them to start swallowing up whole worlds. The Guardians arrive and fly to the centre of Ego’s planet to try to destroy him and also the Sovereign arrive and Pac Man is there for some reason and guys, things get nuts.

Again, not joking.

Anyway, they manage to kill Ego by sending Baby Groot with a bomb to blow up his brain (okay, that is some straight up ISIS shit guys) and have to make their escape as the planet crumbles around them. Yondu refuses to leave without Peter and Rocket gives him the last spacesuit and rocket pack while he gets Baby Groot to safety. And Yondu flies to Peter to safety and gives him the spacesuit, sacrificing his life.

For his son.

So, again, to steal blatantly from Lindsay Ellis, this is a movie about who should be forgiven. The movie essentially says that there will always be people who hurt you and let you down, and some can be forgiven and some can’t. This movie is about finding the line between the monsters like Thanos and Ego who cannot be forgiven, and those like Rocket and Gamora who did terrible things but are still good at heart and deserve a chance to be better. And the movie puts Yondu in that second category. Your mileage may vary on whether that’s true. I think (I hope, I pray) that I’m a good Dad. But the way I see it, I get no points for that because I had two of the best parents anyone could ask for and I would have to fuck up pretty damn bad to squander that advantage. Yondu was, objectively, a pretty shitty parent. Possibly even abusive. But when you consider what he started from, the fact that his own parents literally sold him into slavery some grading on a curve is justified. In the end, he loved his son. He protected him as best he knew how. And when he was asked to make the greatest sacrifice any parent could make for their child, he didn’t even flinch.

He was Mary Poppins, y’all.

The movie ends with families coming together. The Guardians give Yondu a funeral, Gamora and Nebula share a hug, Rocket and Peter forgive each other and they all watch as the Ravagers light up the starways in honor of Yondu, finally forgiving him and honoring him as one of their own.

Because in the end, he deserved to be forgiven. May we all.

**

This one’s special, folks. Visually breathtaking, funny as heck and fulla the feels.

Welcome to the top spot, guys.

Scoring

Adaptation: 24/25

Taking a whole handful of disparate and obscure Marvel cosmic characters and weaving them into a heart-warming meditation of family, forgiveness and overcoming trauma? That ain’t adaptation. That’s alchemy.

Our Heroic Heroes: 24/25

Does an excellent job of fleshing out all of our main cast and building on the work done in Part One.

Villain: 23/25

Pff. What villain problem? Kurt Russell’s villain works so well not just because of a game and affable performance but because this is an antagonist who perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with our heroes. How hard do you think the writer’s were high-fiving when they realised that there is a Marvel villain literally called “Ego”?

Our Plucky Sidekicks: 25/25

Karen Gillen just kills it this time around, finding deep reserves of rage and vulnerability underneath Nebula’s cold cyborg exterior. And Rooker? Practically perfect in every way.

First Stinger:

Kraglin practices with Yondu’s arrow and accidentally stabs Drax with it.

And the audience went:

Drax in pain never gets old.

Second Stinger:

In honour of Yondu’s sacrifice, Stakar reunites the Ravagers in a team that bears a suspicious resemblance to the original Guardians of the Galaxy team from the comics.

And the audience went:

I love obscure fan service as much as the next rodent, but that is a deep cut, Marvel. I mean, the only Cosmic Marvel character more obscure that Guardians Classic would be oh here we go…

Third (really?) Stinger:

A servant tells Ayesha (who has a bad case of crazy-hair) that she has been summoned by the council to answer for her failure to recover the batteries. She tells the servant that she has created something that will stop the Guardians for good, saying “I think I’ll call him…Adam.”

And the audience went:

Adam Warlock. ‘Kay. We have officially run out of characters I care about.

Fourth (guys C’MON!) Stinger:

Peter tells  surly Teen Groot to clean his room.

And the audience went:

DEATH TO TEEN GROOT! GIVE US BABY GROOT! BABY GROOT OR WE RIOT!

Fifth (YOU ARE SERIOUSLY HARMING MY CALM, MARVEL) Stinger:

The Watchers leave Stan Lee as he calls after them “No! Come back, I still have so many stories to tell!”

And Mouse went:

“OH GAWD! OH GAWD STAN LEE IS GOING TO DIE SOON AND I’M NOT READY GUYS, I’M NOT READY…”

Infinity Gem Count: 5

Man, if you can’t rely on a Guardians of the Galaxy movie to unveil a new shiny rock, what’s this world coming to?

Wait a minute, was that Stan Lee?!

That was Stan Lee, finally confirming the old fan theory that Stan’s various FedEx delivery guys, army vets and Class A preverts are all the same dude who is the Watcher, or Watcher or working for the Watchers or somehow Watcher adjacent.

Hey, what’s Thanos doing?

Thanos is etc and so forth, God this bit is getting old.

FINAL SCORE: 96%

NEXT UPDATE: 7 December 2017

NEXT TIME: Right, so. I appreciate that it probably doesn’t feel like this to you what with having to wait three weeks for this review (thanks for being so supportive guys) but I’ve been working flat out recently and I kind of need a bit of a break. So instead of the regular BARs (Big Ass Reviews) I’m going to be using December to close out the War Shorts reviews and then we’ll get back into the swing of things in 2018.

38 comments

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter:
    I’d like to ask, if someone asked you to review a Marvel cartoon, would you grade it the same way as a Marvel movie, or the same way as a cartoon?

  2. I have been linking Lindsay’s review in every discussion of this movie for three months now. It’s one of the best re-thinks I’ve ever had to give a film, and I say that as someone who got appropriately emotional while actually watching it; I broke when Kraglin whoops with joy during the funeral and does the Ravager salute. But I sniffle when the shoe dies in Roger Rabbit, I’m just a big softie. Lindsay did an amazing job of explaining just WHY it hit me so damn hard. And so did you!

    2017 has been amazing year for the superhero genre, with five fantastic movies and also Justice League which sits in the back of the class eating paste (But less paste than usual! Gold star!), and of them I think GotG2 is the most underrated. Sure, Logan was heartbreaking, and seeing Wonder Woman done right filled me with joy, but Guardians has a shocking amount of emotional weight underneath all the glitter. But so many people still dismiss it as mere cinematic candy floss.

    I’ve got to agree with you about the Drax/Mantis thing, though. I mean I get it, he finds conventionally attractive women revolting, that’s funny and all, but he never seemed repulsed by Gamora or Nebula. He just seems to single Mantis out for abuse, and since she’s as much an abuse survivor as the other characters (Ego is effectively her father too – does he ever even really acknowledge her presence? And she’s clearly terrified of him), it’s kind of uncomfortable. That’s the one thing I wish Lindsay had addressed, so I’m super glad you pointed out how tone-deaf it was.

    1. Umm…Lindsay DID point out the Drax/Mantis dynamic in her video, and she was just as disappointed in it as you or Mouse. Check it again around 21:10.

      1. Jeez, you’re right! How on earth did I forget about that part? Guess because it was fairly short.

        Welp, I’m an imbecile.

  3. There’s just so much meat to this film that sadly not a whole lot of people got on their first viewing which lead to the usual, “Ehhhhh, it’s servicable but not as good as Vol.1.”

    Vol.1 was a fine movie in of itself that I am still glad was successful, but I always wanted more from it and Vol. 2 gave me just that.

    As far as what the future holds…I have no fidea how the Winter Soldier/Civil War team is going to handle a film with over sixty something main characters in a movie that might not be three hours long.

  4. Good review as always. I will save my controversial Ragnarok opinions for when you get to it.

    I really liked this movie and I had the same thoughts about the snow covered space brothel scene (did not expect to write that when I woke up today). I was surprised with how much this movie made me care about the characters and how well it handled the Peter/Gamora relationship. My biggest complaint is so minor that I’m only saying it so I can maintain my constant complaining record. I didn’t like Sylvester Stallone in this one. He felt like he was playing someone doing a Sylvester Stallone impression.

    Anyway, have a good semi-break and thanks for all your work.

  5. I agree Mouse, I’m not too thrilled about the half-minute circle-jerk that is Marvel’s newest logo, but it not only looks as though it’s here to stay, it’s apparently in their trailers now too (Speaking of which, what timing, having your review and the much-hyped Infinity War trailer coming out on the same day? Any thoughts?). Speaking of the trailer: Sorry Mouse, but it looks like we’re in for more Teen Groot.

    I kind of wish that you touched more on Ego and his big end-of-second-act reveal (Something which, I believe, puts him as a fantastic villain, not just a condescendingly phrased “good, for a Marvel villain” I’ve heard around) as well as Yondu and Rocket’s dynamic, but everything else you touched on I totally agree. The art design and sets were fantastic, and everyone was bringing their A-game. Even Kraglin had a time to shine. Not a lot of people talk about Nebula in this movie, and I agree with you that Gillan was fantastic, like Rooker’s Yondu, subtly adding plenty of nuance to the stoic mercenary-type character.

    I’ve been a fan of Lindsay Ellis’ video essays this past year or so, but her video on Vol. 2 was one that most notably widened my perspective on a movie. I went to see it in theaters, yeah, that ending really got to me, and I walked away thinking it was already great, but months later, Lindsay’s points brought more stuff to light (Points that Gunn himself praised on his Twitter some time ago).

    If I may get on a soapbox for a quick moment…a year before Vol. 2 came out I lost an estranged half-brother to a heroin overdose. I thought I had made peace with it, but then I watched Lindsay’s video, where she contextualizes the theme of the film about family, and about how some abusers (Or just less than stellar family members) can be forgiven or not, I started to think about how I didn’t speak to my brother in years, and how we left on acrimonious terms, and…wooh boy, that wound got torn back open, lemme tell you. I can’t re-watch Peter’s eulogy at the end or even listen to “Father & Son” without choking up, because now the movie strikes an even deeper chord than before.

    With all that in mind, I’ll admit there is a bit of a bias whenever I get flustered to hear that people thought this sequel was forgettable, or that the first was objectively better. Still, with the visuals to the acting and the plot, I still feel Vol. 2 was firing on all cylinders. I’m definitely hoping more Marvel movies are made in the vein of this (They probably will if not completely by accident, with 20 goddamn movies in mind after Avengers 4), and especially looking forward to see how Gunn closes this series in the third movie (Fingers crossed to see Saoirse Ronan pop up as Drax’s long-thought-dead adult daughter Moondragon).

      1. It’s alright. In retrospect, I feel I might have been a bit hasty with the personal details. I could have been less specific (And that one anecdote already left out a lot of the full story), but yeah, I apologize for making this a bit too real. Lindsay opened up about her Dad in her video, and I’ve kind of been carrying my own thoughts on the matter since then.

        All I was really trying to illustrate was why I agree that Vol. 2 is a step above the rest. It not only has a plot with real emotional stakes and likable, vulnerable characters, but that said vulnerability comes from a place that might strike close to home for some of us, making it even more than just another movie. I I would say that it’s an objectively well-made movie all on its own, but its the pathos and reliability that elevates it even further. I’ll always enjoy the first movie for its punk-rock irreverence, but I’ll probably hold Vol. 2 to an even higher regard over time.

  6. I can forgive Marvel for that logo. For one, they need something which clearly distinguish their logo from the Marvel logo which is in front of the Fox and Sony movies. And two, there is no denying that I get pumped every time I see it.

    Anyway, the two GotG movies is one of the reasons why I have stopped ranking Marvel movies as movies and instead now rank them as franchises. Because while I was aware of the different layers in GotG Vol 2 the moment I saw the movie (though Lindsey did a beautiful job to take them apart), it is also undeniable that this movie wouldn’t be possible with the careful world building done in the first GotG. All those themes didn’t just pop out of the thin air, we already knew about Rockets traumas, about the complicated love/hate relationship between Nebula and Gamora and about Youndu being “soft” of Peter and his crew being angry about it.

    I can also honestly say that there has never been a villain ever which caused such visceral hatred in me. When he destroys the Walkman (and isn’t it strange how attached one can get to an outdated music playing device) and then callous said that he killed Peter’s mother (an I really didn’t see THAT coming) I wanted to punch him into the ground.

    Btw, love your observation that we are basically okay with mass murderer because those guys were mean to baby groot…

  7. Honestly I didn’t really like Thor Ragnarok at all. It was better than Dark World, sure, but it felt like it was two movies awkwardly smashed together with no actual cohesion between them, everything felt half-baked, and it couldn’t ever just let a moment be a moment without undercutting it with some stupid joke.

  8. Despite the fact I consider anyone with a Bad Word to say about THOR RAGNAROK to be in dire need of a trip the nearest Bedlam House one is fully prepared to accept your right to post that sort of crazy talk on the understanding that Free Speech is the pillar of Human Dignity … and also in the presumably-desperate hope that you will remember that courtesy when the time comes to reveal my own Lunatic Opinions.

    THAT TIME IS NOW – much as I have enjoyed the Marvel offerings this year, JUSTICE LEAGUE has still managed to knock everyone except The Mighty Thor out of my Top 3 2017 Superhero movies (WONDER WOMAN is #1 with a bullet and will remain so): there, I have said it, now I stand revealed as so DC you can practically see the National Mall from my house.

    COME AT ME BRO! (or SIS, depending on the reader).

    1. So…I guess Vol. 2 is the bottom of your Top 3 then?

      I’ll respectfully disagree with your (Recognizably hyperbolic) comment that Ragnarok is above criticism, but at the same time I’ll agree with you that Justice League wasn’t half-bad. Admittedly, a lot of that came from the fact that my expectations were staggeringly low when I walked into the theater, but still, it wasn’t pretentious and boiled over in its overambitious. I suppose you could say it was room temperature. XD

      1. TOP 3 2017 Superhero Movies

        1# WONDER WOMAN
        2: JUSTICE LEAGUE
        3: THOR RAGNAROK

        More or Less – 2 & 3 are currently wrestling for supremacy, but since I’ve seen JUSTICE LEAGUE twice in cinemas we can be reasonably certain that done-in-one RAGNAROK won’t be climbing much higher (having said that I really did like SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Volume 2, they simply didn’t manage to pierce my abiding love for DC comics and The Mighty Thor).

      2. I mean, I love DC too, actually even more than Marvel. That’s kind of why I gave Justice League a pass while at the same time I can’t fully enjoy most of DCEU’s output aside from Wonder Woman. As much as I want to give Justice League the benefit of the doubt based purely on fan bias, I can’t deny the fact that all of this year’s Marvel movies, including smaller efforts like Homecoming, are just objectively better-made films.

  9. On a note less redolent of hitherto-unsuspected depths of zealotry, please allow me to compliment you on once again delivering a very solid review of the Mighty Marvel feature of the month; I have to say that one thoroughly enjoyed Volume 2 when it was in cinemas and would very gladly watch it again were it to crop up on my radar.

    Having said that and meant every word, one still feels compelled to point out (and it pains me to type this) that you have forgotten to mention the very, very Best thing to come out of the entire production – BEHOLD AND WONDER:

      1. I should have known that a mouse of such impeccable good taste as yourself would have an appreciation for Fine Cheese!

  10. I also saw Lindsey’s video, and before that the whole theme of forgiveness had never occurred to me. It was an interesting take, to say the least.

    I really liked this movie. In fact, it’s currently my favorite comic movie of 2017. But at this point in the MCU’s stride, all of their movies from this year are in my top 10.

    Also Infinity War trailer!

    1. “Padding?” You mean to say “sub-plots,” right? I mean, with such a large cast, you kind of need to figure out how to accommodate things. In regards to some stuff, most notably everything involving the Sovereign, I can understand what you mean.

      When I think of “padding,” I think of that one scene in the Mummy movie this year, where the plot stops in its tracks so Tom Cruise can gawk at shots of a vampire skull or Gill-Man’s hand in a jar. You could argue that, in regards to most of the plot threads in Vol. 2, there was at least a point and a pay-off.

  11. Mouse, would it amuse or outrage you to know that I’ve been imagining the DCEU Apokolips as cast entirely with Irish Actors since watching JUSTICE LEAGUE? (admittedly this crackpot theory is partly grounded in sheer wicked amusement at the thought of our neighbours on the Emerald Island getting tarred with the brush of Screen Villainy for once, but is also based on the far firmer footing that Mr Liam Neeson* could make a pretty darned Awesome Darkseid).

    *Learning that the Big Man helped coach Mr Ciaran Hinds through some of the niceties of a Motion Capture performance is what actually triggered this fit of whimsy in the first place (now I just have to decide if Mr Brendan Gleeson would make a useful Granny Goodness … ).

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