Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 & The Looming Shadow of Infinity War
Thanos is coming. In less than a year, we will finally get to see The Mad Titan in action. It’s hard to ignore such a historic cinematic event. And I say that knowing full well that there are people who don’t care about comic book movies or shared universes. For fans, however, Avengers: Infinity War represents a decade of investment.
It’s because of that investment, I found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 to be a little disappointing. This is the one corner of the MCU where Thanos could make an appearance but the rumors were true. This is, indeed, a completely standalone adventure. Director James Gunn mentioned over and over again that Vol. 2 would not lead directly into Infinity War and I get that. I wasn’t expecting a big cover up and a giant action scene featuring Thanos. But part of me did hope for more connectivity. Way back in Phase 1, I felt the same way about the original Captain America. It was a good movie. (It wasn’t one of my favorite Marvel films but it stood well on its own.) I simply found myself looking past the film to The Avengers.
Don’t get me wrong, as a standalone film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is just as good (but not better) than the first movie. It’s just as wacky and wonderful and evolves the characters brilliantly. I was particularly impressed by how well they tied the sequel to the original. This is especially evident in the evolution of Yondu. His character is, retroactively, completely different now that we have more information on WHY he made certain choices.
Like the first film, the follow up shines when the Guardians are together. Unfortunately, they are split up for a large portion of the film. The separate stories are entertaining on their own but I found myself wondering when the Guardians will finally unite. When they did reunite, we get an explosive final act that ranks very high in terms of villainous thwarted threats.
And what about the big bad Ego? I thought Gunn did a fantastic job weaving in the living planet’s presence throughout this film and its predecessor. Guardians 2 really does make you look at Vol 1 in a whole new way. New truths replace old, old enemies are given second chances. Overall Ego is a fantastic villain. It was actually surprising how well Gunn managed to explained how a living planet can exist. The character makes you question just how big Marvel’s universe can be. (We even get a tease of Eternity. Capital ‘E’?)
With Ego as the film’s big bad, it makes perfect sense why Gunn chose to focus the story on character. Every Guardian is tested but none more than Peter Quill. His journey is incredibly emotional, especially in the final act but there is another tragic journey that shines just as bright. Nebula.
We FINALLY get a sense of why Thanos is to be feared as Nebula shares the gruesome details of her torturous upbringing. Thanos may not appear in this film but, thankfully, his presence is felt. At least for one single scene.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was disappointing only because I can’t wait for these amazing characters to unite with Earth’s mightiest heroes. I have to manage my expectations because we still have Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok & Black Panther to look forward to before the Infinity War begins.
Still, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is just as action packed and hilarious as the first film. (Drax absolutely steals the show in the humor department. A ton of credit goes to Baby Groot too.) It’s the perfect way to continue the story of the Guardians while introducing a number of fantastic Easter Eggs. (I’ll keep this spoiler free)
I would put Vol 2 right alongside Iron Man 3. I liked both movies as standalone films but I just couldn’t help but wonder where The Avengers are. So… We are now left with a long wait for Thor: Raganarok to potentially kick start The Infinity War. Will Thanos make an appearance? Who knows at this point? The only real certainty is he won’t be appearing at Peter Parker’s high school this summer.
Surely he’ll show up in a post credit sequence at the very least? Maybe? Will Marvel honestly make us wait another year before Thanos finally takes center stage?