In 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy single handedly kept me interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This, mind you, was no easy task. The well was by no means dry in the MCU just incredibly stale, with cookie cutter sequels and blue energy beams to outer space. Then, seemingly out of nowhere stepped a wild group of space misfits, thrust together for one reason or another to defend the universe against a blue Lee Pace with black goo dribbling down his chin. Let’s get weird Marvel!
That weirdness continues in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Director James Gunn globs on more colors than a bag of skittles while never straying too far from the deep self-awareness of his newfangled franchise. The entire cast returns save for a much more adorable Baby Groot (his adorable doe-eyes and squeaky voice are still credited to Vin Diesel – cash them checks big man!) while a few newcomers pepper the landscape.
Gunn never strays too far from his stars though. It’s clear he and his team recognized the kind of star they had in Dave Bautista as Drax and load the big man up with the biggest laugh lines, which Bautista nails. Couple that with Baby Groot’s antics, Rocket Raccoon’s (Bradley Cooper) brash loud mouth and the palpable sexual tension between Starlord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana,) you have a movie tailormade to cash-in.
Sure, the plot involving Kurt Russell as Pratt’s father is insufferably dumb and everything blows up in the end, I just don’t care as much in this corner of the MCU (funny enough, neither do any of these characters.) The banter is breezy; the set pieces are inventive and the costumes mostly all have capes. This is the closest Marvel will ever come to Flash Gordon and it comes VERY close. That should be celebrated because in all the silliness beats an actual heart, something almost completely unique to the Guardians.