All of that was in the future, however, when “Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2” premiered. Its success, I think, can be attributed to a pretty simple formula: The characters had become pop-culture icons, thanks to savvy marketing and merchandising, in between the two films; the prior year’s “Captain America: Civil War” had further increased interest in the overall story of the MCU and the impending battle with Thanos; the marketing was great; and, after “Doctor Strange,” the audience was hungry for a more light-hearted Marvel experience.
“Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2” certainly works, although it suffers from a central storyline that is less interesting than the drama around it. While setting up for “Infinity War” and a battle with a father figure who wanted to obliterate much of the universe, the second Guardians adventure ... was a battle with a father figure who wanted to obliterate much of the universe, as Peter Quill meets his god-father (the hyphen is important) Ego and learns of his cosmically important parentage. Parts of this work — the brief period where David Hasselhoff takes over for Kurt Russell as Ego is brilliant — but the overall story is a bit tired, another daddy-issues slog in a genre full of them.
Much more effective is the battle for understanding between estranged sisters Nebula and Gamora, thanks in large part to brilliant performances by Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan. The inciting incident, where the Guardians save a humorless species only to draw their ire when Rocket robs them, gives the movie its thrust; there was more than enough plot there without Quill figuring out where he comes from.
Such quibbling is beside the point, however; “Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2” is just plain fun, a technicolor jukebox of a good time. More than simply prove that it can elevate lesser heroes, Marvel has demonstrated that the brand isn’t really about the characters at all — it’s about the universe itself, and everything the mega-studio can do with it.
Oh, and we got through this whole article without delving into the James Gunn issue, which is a pleasant change of pace.
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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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