Rambly thinky thoughts about why GotG2 is one of the best films in the MCU
So yesterday I saw GotG2 a third time (this time in IMAX), and let me tell you I have Realised A Thing.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 gives me the emotional satisfaction that I expected, wanted, but ultimately did not get from Captain America: Civil War.
After being utterly blown away by CATWS I went into CACW expecting All Of The Feels, but instead I got a bunch of dudes displaying the emotional maturity of concussed teaspoons, the most forced and pointless No Homo “"romance”“ to date, and a dull af colour palette that not even Chris Evans’ glorious biceps could brighten up. Plus a bunch of explosions and snappy oneliners, but that’s a given.
But mostly it was just a bunch of people getting into trouble and falling out because they just Would Not Talk To Each Other. And an ending to the friendship between Steve and Tony that didn’t really have that much of an impact ‘cause while we’ve seen them working together we’ve never really gotten to see them hang out, just the two of them, and actually be friends, so that big, dramatic end fight didn’t have the impact it should’ve had. And poor Bucky, who should’ve been the central character of the film, was barely more than a McGuffin who starts out just wanting to be left alone and ends up just wanting to be left alone to the point where he chooses to get frozen again. Hmph.
GotG2 on the other hand? WHOA.
HERE BE SPOILERS! (And I’m on mobile so no readmore for you)
They talk to each other. The “unspoken thing” between Peter and Gamora is still developing, in a way that feels a lot more natural than the Steve/Sharon thing. And there’s not really any room for superfluous, awkward romance when the film is dedicated to familial relationships, like Gamora and Nebula, who get a really good arc to themselves (Bechdel Test pass! And Mako Mori Test pass, for Nebula).
The whole Peter/Ego/Yondu thing is very well executed, ‘cause you can see how much Peter wants Ego to be the father he always wished for, but as soon as Ego reveals what he did to Meredith he’s dead to Peter. And Yondu won’t ever win any Father of the Year awards, but given his backstory it’s not really a surprise that he isn’t very good at the whole parenting thing, and I’m pretty sure he never expected to love Peter like he did. But he did right by him in the end, and actually told Peter that he thought of him as a son, and now I am verklempt.
The whole bit with Yondu, Rocket, and Groot escaping and taking back the ship? Fucking PERFECT. An excellent balance of humour (the toe!), genuine emotional beats, and 110% sheer, awesome badassery. And I love that they picked a song that on its own is kinda meh, but the way it builds along with the action somehow makes it the perfect choice. (This whole sequence has become my favourite part of all MCU films, can you tell?)
And the upshot of Rocket and Yondu’s bonding? Is that Rocket realises that he actually has a family, who won’t leave him behind no matter how much he tries to push them away. Emotional development for the acerbic asshole, woot!
Basically, GotG2 neatly sidesteps the thing that usually happens to the second film in an ensemble cast franchise. The thing where the first film shows the gang getting together, and the second film drives them apart, without there being any intermediate that shows them actually working together and enjoying each other’s company. GotG1 shows them becoming a crew, GotG2 shows them becoming a family. And I love that it’s Drax, aka the only one who’s actually had a family of his own, who defines their relationship out loud.
Of course, it’s quite probable that the expectations I had before seeing CACW and GotG2 has shaped how I feel about them. With CACW my hype was through the roof, simply because CATWS was so damn good, and CACW is a capably made film considering how much plot they had to cram into it. But beyond my initial squee at how they’d actually pulled it off there was just… Meh. It didn’t feel like it had the depth of CATWS, and thus didn’t invite me to explore it further through reading and writing fanfic.
Going into GotG2 I expected a fun, colourful romp through space, but not much else. And then I saw it and the Feels hit me in the face like a sledgehammer. And after a third viewing it still holds up; even though the ending isn’t exactly happy happy I still come out of the theatre grinning like a loon and feeling awesome. It’s not quite on par with the feeling Mad Max: Fury Road left me with, but of all the MCU films this is the one that comes closest to it.
And that’s just about as high praise that I can give.