Apr 4, 2018

The MCU Roundtable: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

If you’re anything like us, than you were blown away when the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer dropped.  The extended Comics Cube family was so excited that we have decided to embark upon a full re-watch of the Marvel Studios film series.  Every week we are going to watch and provide a roundtable discussion about each Marvel movie in release order.  Next, that dysfunctional family in space gets their sequel!

Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released on May 5, 2017, and made $147 million on its opening weekend.  It ended its theatrical run at $390 million in the United States and $864 million total worldwide.

MATT: It’s weird that this the only like immediately following movie. It’s like the Guardians get no break.

DUY: The structure of this movie is weird to me, but in a good way. There doesn't seem to be the one main plot, just a bunch of small subplots all coming together at the end.

TRAVIS: Both Guardians movies were big breaks in Marvel formula. And, better for it. The reactions of Mantis, which are classic abuse reactions, going unnoticed by our heroes, who are also largely dicks to her (well, Drax is, the rest just don't notice her), is kind of a beautiful deal.

ANTONIO: I love the staircase scene with Mantis and Drax when he’s talking about his daughter and she touches his shoulder. That was dope.

DUY: Also, the only MCU movie to successfully make me cry. I have no regrets.

SCARLET: "Father and Son" is a tear-jerker in pretty much any context.

DUY: It's totally cheating to use it

KATHERINE: Okay, shameless ogling / hardcore ovary-tingling here, but starting at 1:00 is the second best use of a Cat Stevens song ever.

SCARLET: Best use of a Fleetwood Mac song in anything ever.

MATT: I do love the use of this song, but I will always have a soft spot in my heard for "Looking Glass."  Also, I will be lost to the GotG Pandora station for a week or so

JEFF: Ever see the first episode of The Americans? That's the best ever use of a Fleetwood Mac song in anything.

MATT: This is a legitimately good Pandora station. I do think at the end of all this, we should strongly consider which of the movies has the best music, acting, action, writing,..

MATT: I feel it's extremely important for our credibility as an erudite publication that we appreciated the first inclusion of diegetic music since the last GotG movie. Feel free to throw in some $10 words too

DUY: I might actually like this soundtrack better. Not just because of Cat Stevens.

MATT: I have already stipulated my views re Looking Glass and Fleetwood Mac. I will also chime in for ELO.

JEFF: We should like this soundtrack better since they had more budget to pay for songs from bigger names like George Harrison, ELO and Fleetwood Mac but besides the songs from Looking Glass and George Harrison, I prefer the first soundtrack, especially the songs it introduced me to.

MATT: You can’t fight the feeling?

Both Guardians movies were big breaks in Marvel formula. And, better for it.  -Travis

DUY: I also marked out over Kurt Russell and Michael Rooker. Tombstone, yo!

PETER: Michael Rooker and Sylvester Stallone = Cliffhanger, yo!

DUY: Is the movie too steeped in daddy issues? Yeah. Do I care? No.

TRAVIS: It's about daddy issues. The whole thing.

MATT: Quill is a seriously screwed-up kid. His mom dies, he is abducted by an alien who threatens to eat him, then learns his dad is a magic space being after holding an Infinity Stone, then meets and kills his dad (because dad killed his mom). It's very Oedipal. The only people with more daddy issues are Gamora and Nebula.

DUY: Don't forget that the alien who threatens to eat him is basically his surrogate dad. I mean, Yondu's a great character and all, and this one movie (the last one, not even) really got me to caring about him. But if that guy's the best you have as a father figure...

TRAVIS: "Oh, but ain't that America"? That's the American condition, isn't it? Tony. Steve. Peter. The other Peter. Probably, Jane Foster. America and the MCU are stuck on the first leg of a father's arc in a Spielberg movie.

MATT: Thor has daddy issues too. Banner has Ross. Steve's father is not mentioned; I think he only says he's been on his own since he was 18 (except for Bucky).

DUY: What's everyone think about Sean Gunn's character? He's fun, in that ridiculous way

TRAVIS: I'm glad he got on-screen, instead of just hunching over to be erased. And, it adds to the dad issues, all over.

MATT: It's Kirk in space, who doesn't like Kirk in space? You know who doesn't have daddy issues? Groot.

ANTONIO: Technically, I suppose, New Groot is an orphan.

MATT: He's imbued with ancient tree knowledge. Don't ruin him for us, Ruiz.

TRAVIS: Rocket. Jesus. "You think I asked to be made?!?"/Acts out. That's a cycle.

MATT: God, this is one incredibly messed up bunch. It works though and doesn't get campy.

DUY: One of the things I really like about this movie is how Rocket just consistently lies to himself. From the start, he's saying that he's only playing music because of Quill. But when Quill leaves, he's still playing the music.

ANTONIO: Raccoons lie.

MATT: If you can't trust the garbage panda with a heart of gold, who can you trust?

ANTONIO: Rocket also got one of the best action scenes. He’s just this cool furry dick with guns and explosives. He should be the one taking over Arnold’s action hero legacy, not the Rock! Rocket shoulda been the star of Rampage.

DUY: That makes no sense!

ANTONIO: It’s all CGI anyway!

I think this movie reinforces the idea that friends are the family you choose for yourself, and that connection can be greater than the family you happen to be born into (especially when they're abusive, murderous pricks). -Katherine

MATT: It's a fairly by the numbers, dad-is-a-giant-planet-trying-to-take-over-the-universe kind of story. It's enjoyable, but not super memorable. Except for the super racist (specist?) gold aliens.

KATHERINE: Cheering each other on during their virtual ship battles was hilarious, they earned their keep onscreen just because of that. "You suck, Zylak."

DUY: It's got a bunch of smaller stories that aren't really tied together outside of the fatherhood theme, and then the aliens.

MATT: Yeah, we established the theme is fatherhood and to a lesser extent family (as it was in the first movie). Fatherhood is in the Ego-Yondu-Quill love triangle. Family is Gamora and Nebula, Rocket and Groot, Mantis and Drax (they are like teenage siblings in my mind given how shitty he is to her).

KATHERINE: I think this movie reinforces the idea that friends are the family you choose for yourself, and that connection can be greater than the family you happen to be born into (especially when they're abusive, murderous pricks). There are daddy issues galore in the MCU, but I think the Guardians might be the most balanced because they really do have each other.

MATT: It is essentially an action hang movie, which shouldn’t work and probably doesn’t for newcomers. But we are not newcomers.

JEFF: I enjoyed the hellout of this movie when I first saw it, even ended up seeing it twice in the theater for the kids, but it doesn't have the same enjoyment for when I've tried to watch it again at home. I don't know why but when I've put it on my mind wanders and I stop paying attention to it. It's got good action, CGI, comedy, and music, but there's something not right with it I can't put my finger on.

DUY: Lack of coherent focus?

JEFF: Maybe but it doesn't feel like they're following too many plots. You have Quills group on Ego and the scenes dealing with Rocket and the Reavers. That isn't something that should be too much for a two hour movie to chew up.

DUY: This movie is all about the funny balancing with the dramatic. "I don't know what Cheers is!" is immediately followed by: "I finally found my family, don't you understand that?" and "I thought you already had." Also,   "You were the one who wanted to win, and I just wanted a sister!"

Coming into this movie did anyone think that Yondu would play a major role? And yet in the end, his last words are the strongest gutpunch in the film. -Peter
DUY: I think Ego is a start for quite a streak of better-than-average MCU villains. Also, the first of four straight to have a personal connection with the hero, something that in all the previous movies we'd only seen with Loki and Bucky (If he counts).

MATT: Better than average, yes. Actual connection to the person? No. Granted, he's more known to Peter than Killmonger is (since Peter — presumably — knows he has an actual father). They develop a simulacra of one during the film, so I'll give them points for that.

DUY: Well, he's got more of a personal connection than, say, Kaecilius, Ronan, Malekith...Not as much as Vulture, Hela, and Killmonger, though, yeah.

MATT: Middle of the road, planet-dad level connection.

ANTONIO: This really was a pretty movie to look at.

DUY: What did we all think of the "original" Guardians of the Galaxy showing up, with Stakar being played by Sylvester Stallone?

TRAVIS: Beautiful.

PETER: I was confused and I marked out at the same time which I did not know was possible. The original Guardians with Yondu, Martinex, Charlie-27, and Vance were the Guardians I knew from the comics first. I never knew of the characters played by Stallone, Yeoh, and the rest, so I had to look them up after.

ANTONIO: Cute Easter egg. Probably wouldn’t mind seeing more of them in the third movie. Maybe even some kinda short caper on the DVD/blu-ray, and/or attached to the theater release.

DUY: So we all agree that they're better off focusing on them instead of bringing in Adam Warlock, right?

TRAVIS: Him should be in Infinity War, since it fits but it would also be fairly unexpected. Usually they don't roll out from the teasers that fast. They should.

DUY: He shouldn't be anywhere.

TRAVIS: What about Taserface?

DUY: Look, any movie that can bring Taserface to life...

DUY: Who wins the Kilmer Award for this movie?

MATT: Ego, especially digitally younger Ego makes a good case. As does Yondu, per the other one.

DUY: I think I go with Yondu, because he really just won me over and turned me in the course of this single movie

KATHERINE: I want to give it to Baby Groot for his big dance number at the beginning, which was just so cute that I felt like I was going to explode from the gigil. And him holding the little Ravager chip over his head like a hat. Gah! Yondu is an excellent choice though for going through such a full and satisfying character arc. But I will also take this moment to appreciate the insanely good job they did with digital young Kurt Russell. I thought young Michael Douglas was super impressive, but this was even better, and definitely harder to pull off since he spent so much time in full blown daylight and it still looked so natural. It freaked me out because I know that he's old now, but the young version they made is what he still looks like in my mind and in my memories.

MATT: Yes, it actually looks like a young Snake Plissken.

PETER: Coming into this movie did anyone think that Yondu would play a major role? And yet in the end, his last words are the strongest gutpunch in the film.

DUY: Comic recommendation for this is James Robinson's Starman series and Ennis and Dillon's Preacher, which are still my go-to for father/son dynamics in comics

TRAVIS: I'd recommend Ennis and Dillon's Heartland, Adam Warren and Hector Sevilla Lujan's Galacta: Daughter of Galactus, and Rick Veitch's Heartburst and Other Pleasures.

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