I checked out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after ANT-MAN, and I gotta be honest with you: I didn’t even notice I was doing it. I still have an MCU folder on my computer with everything from Ang Lee’s HULK (screw you, it counts) to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, along with the first season of AGENTS OF SHIELD, because I was planning on mounting a rewatch.
I haven’t gotten around to it, and remembering it exists now has me wondering if I should free up some storage space.
That said, the only MCU movies I actually care about are James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY trilogy. And thankfully, Gunn’s made GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2 continuity-free to an outsider so it’s easier to play along.
In this chapter of Peter Quill’s life, he and his friends Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot make their way to Ego, the planet that is also a god that is also Pete’s dad. Meanwhile, they are pursued by Yondu and his ravagers, some gold people (the Sovereign [I googled it]), and Gamora’s murderous yet sympathetic sister-by-adoption Nebula.
It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s pretty good. But those are all things you can hear anywhere else.
The really important thing that I need you to take away from this is that the most engaging relationship in a movie where every character reevaluates their definition of family is that the most engaging and touching story belongs to Nebula and Gamora.
Thanos (who remains unseen in this instalment, mercifully) wasn’t the best of dads, to put it mildly. He pitted Nebula and Gamora against each other physically for his love, and bionically augmented the loser in every battle. As Gamora is 100% green chick and Nebula doesn’t even have a skull made of bone, you can tell who survived those battles.
Yet all Nebula ever wanted was a sister. Someone to fight alongside her, against her father. To share in her victories and defeats. Presumably to bingewatch Netflix shows with, but who knows if they’ve cracked distribution across that many stars.
All Peter Quill wanted was a father, and his father is a mess. He’s a loner with too many secrets and he looked the same as a young man as he does as an old man and like, who does that happen to, honestly? All Rocket wants is to be accepted for the ugly, mean, petty crook he is, and when he is, he goes meaner and pettier to make sure it’s real.
But all of that fades away when Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan are alone together. No story is as affecting as an apology for never realizing someone wanted you to be there for them.
Does Yondu ever pull his act together? Can Groot, who is a baby don’tcha-know, be trusted to detonate a bomb? Who the heck are these gold people, and why exactly should I care? Truth is, I don’t that much.
But GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 just gave the MCU its FROZEN moment, and that’s enough for me. THREE STARS