May 3, 2017

Five Spoilery Points About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This is not a review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. A review would look at the movie in as objective a manner as possible. And I am not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to give you...

Five Things About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Needless to say, SPOILERS FOLLOW.




5. God, no, not Adam Warlock!

This isn't a spoiler so much because it's been confirmed over the internet that Adam Warlock is going to be in the third movie. Readers of Marvel comics in the 70s and the 90s are well familiar with Adam Warlock, the artificially created perfect man with golden skin, who took center stage in many a comic book event. He is also, to yours truly, the single most hated character in all of superhero comics.

That's him in the middle, looking like a giant douchenozzle.

I hate Adam Warlock. And not "I love to hate him," like I love to hate Gladstone Gander or Cyclops. There is no character in the entirety of comics that can turn me off a series faster than Adam Warlock. None. No one comes close. Adam Warlock is the patron saint of introspective characters who exist ostensibly to "elevate" comics, but really just fall short because the execution of the introspection turns into navel-gazing.

I hate Adam Warlock. Reading him is like watching a Christopher Nolan movie forgoing entertainment for the chance to be deep and thought-provoking, and failing. Except in comics, there's no Heath Ledger to bail out a structurally messy movie, or no performances from all-time great actors like Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. This is like if Inception were played by terrible actors, but you still had to deal with people afterwards praising how deep it is. (Oh noez, let's figure out which parts are dreams and which parts are real! It's deep! Like a jigsaw puzzle!)

Adam Warlock has a tendency to be put at the forefront of things. I hate seeing him overshadow Captain America and Thor and Iron Man and all the better characters around him (which is every character) and I'm almost definitely going to hate seeing him overshadow Star-Lord and Gamora and Drax and Groot and Rocket if it happens. I guess it's a good thing that he's being introduced in what may be my favorite Marvel movie franchise (that's right. I went there.), and hey, maybe they'll cast someone awesome to make him bearable. But until I see it, my sentiment remains: God, no. Not Adam Warlock.

4. Watch it twice.

I've seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 twice and it does a couple of things that always hit my sweet spots as someone who consumes fiction. The first thing it does is have characters who are lying to themselves. Yes, Yondu calls out Rocket for hiding behind a tough facade and pretending he doesn't care about anything, but there's also Rocket not admitting he likes Peter Quill's music, when, on a second viewing, it's pretty damn obvious he does. It's never called out and neither my girlfriend nor I even noticed it the first time around, but it's there, under the surface.

I have no appropriate picture for this section, so please enjoy topless Chris Pratt.
I am shameless and hope a lot of people Googling "topless Chris Pratt" lands on my website.

The other reason for watching it twice is all the small foreshadowing bits they do in the beginning, usually played for laughs, which resonate differently when you know what's going to happen. When the Guardians land on Berhert, Kurt Russell Wyatt Earp Snake Plissken Ego finds them and tells Peter to come with him, since he's his dad. Within the next ten minutes, Gamora has casually said "If he turns out to be evil, we'll kill him," and Drax has said "I thought Yondu was your father." Both are played for laughs. The second time around, both of them take on a different meaning. The second one, in particular, is a punch in the gut.

Tangent 1: With both Kurt Russell and Michael Rooker in this movie, we have two guys from Tombstone in the Guardians franchise. Can we get Val Kilmer in the next one?

Tangent 2: What is Kurt Russell's best known role? My instinct is Snake Plissken, but that's because I see him a lot of the time in geek montages and collages. But who would it be otherwise?

3. Taserface!

The 90s may be the most panned decade in the history of superhero comics, but man, think about this. The next Avengers movie is based on a 90s event. The highest-grossing Spider-Man movie has his main villain of the 90s as the antagonist. And this one, of all things, has freaking Taserface.

He's different in this one, not Iron Man–equipped. But still, it's freaking Taserface. We live in a world where Taserface is in a movie. Literally anyone is fair game now.

There are cameos here by people named after the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Like with Yondu, they seem to be only connected very loosely visually. But they're there. And the only question now is, who's next?

2. The soundtrack is awesome.

Aww, look at Baby Groot. If you don't like Baby Groot, you have no soul.

When the soundtrack list was released, I knew three songs and I loved all of them. By the time the movie was released, I knew all the songs and loved pretty much all of them.

Tangent: here are the movies with the best soundtracks ever in no particular order:

  • The Crow
  • Guardians 1 
  • Guardians 2
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Empire Records
  • Rock of Ages
  • I Am Sam
Also, I may have made that list up off the top of my head.

The three songs I loved prior to the release of the soundtrack were Surrender by Cheap Trick, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, and Father and Son by Cat Stevens. Before the movie, I tried figuring out what was going to happen and how the songs would fit in. Shit, I thought maybe Father and Son would play when Quill and Ego were playing catch, just for laughs.

1. Fine, I cried.

But no, the damn thing played at the end, after Yondu sacrifices himself for Peter and tells him he loves him. The funeral is a beautiful one, timed perfectly with Sylvester Stallone and the Ravagers/original Guardians ("My friends and I, we were a lot like you.") showing up after they said they wouldn't to pay tribute to their fallen friend. With Father and Son in the background playing, I had to hold back my tears the first time and did my absolute best the second time around, but it did not work. The room got misty and I felt a drop by the side of my eye. Yes, I cried, and I don't care what you think! (Sob.) A superhero movie had successfully made me cry, something that very few works of fiction at all have been able to accomplish.

Two months ago, I said Logan capitalized on the collective emotions of everyone who spent 17 years watching the X-franchise. Well, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 capitalized on the emotions of everyone who's ever failed to say goodbye to someone they love. It was beautiful. It was unexpected. And when I saw it the second time, when it was no longer unexpected, I couldn't keep my eyes dry. And you guys may notice, I don't talk about these movies much, at least not immediately after they're out. But I had to talk about this one. Thank you to James Gunn, Michael Rooker, Chris Pratt, and the rest of the crew of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 for making me feel things. It's a moviegoing experience I'm not going to forget.

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