This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Lucy 🏳️⚧️ 🏳🌈’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
My thoughts on Scorsese's opinion on the MCU is split 50/50. On one hand, I completely see where he's coming from when he says that they "aren't cinema". Films like "Iron Man 2", "Thor: The Dark World", "Captain Marvel", and even "Avengers: Endgame" feel very fake, disingenuous, and manufactured. Cookie-cutter, if you will. But then, there are a few little gems like "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" that are not only visually gorgeous to look at and directed with expert care, but also have incredibly human scripts that study their characters and take the time to to make them far more than just superheroes. They turn them into very real people with very real and complex turmoil going on inside of them that ends up emotionally affecting you in a way that you never thought a big, silly Summer blockbuster ever could.
The Guardians in Vol. 2, in the words of James Gunn, had dealt with the idea of becoming a family in the first film but now have to actually grapple with the concept of being one now. Much like a real family, the Guardians are a mess. They fight and borderline hate each other at moments. And it definitely doesn't help that each Guardian has had an incredibly difficult time in the past when it comes to trusting others due to abusive parents or even loss. The central theme of the film is family. And that theme acts like a seed, kind of like Ego's seed that he plants across the universe. The Guardians' relationship, as a whole, is like the trunk of the growing tree that sprouted from the seed. And the relationships inside those relationships become the branches of the tree. The Guardians' all share a parental-like relationship with Groot. You get a sense that maybe Groot is a chance for them to start over in a certain way. Groot is a way for them to provide a childhood that was taken away from them, either as a child (Gamora and Peter) or as a parent (Drax). Baby Groot is the physical manifestation of something that the Guardians never really got a chance to experience; having/providing a good childhood. So, I think that giving them a chance to be able to make that "good childhood" happen for someone they love is important to all of them, really.
Rocket Raccoon is, possibly, the most damaged of the Guardians, not including Nebula. He was a lab rat. An experiment that was abused and treated like a toy. He's very emotionally closed off, which makes his relationship with the Guardians, specifically Peter, very bitter. Rocket constantly feels the need to do shit that isn't necessary basically all because he wants attention, even if that attention eventually ends up working against him. Peter and Rocket butt heads because of their egotism (no pun intended here by me, but it's not a coincidence that Peter's dad is literally named Ego). Peter and Rocket end up having what we call a dick-measuring contest where everyone loses, including those who weren't even playing. They both have very strong leadership ideas that get the whole group in deep shit. When Rocket eventually meets up with Yondu and they have that conversation where Yondu reveals how similar he and Rocket are, Rocket finally opens up his eyes to see how shitty he is and that he needs to change, not just for the better of the Guardians but for his own good as well.
Gamora and Nebula:
Gamora and Nebula both grew up together in an ungodly toxic household under Thanos. They never got a chance to be sisters, and that really hurt both of them emotionally, even physically. They were forced to fight each other every day for most of their lives. Gamora was too preoccupied with surviving Thanos and his ruthless parenting that she never stopped to think about Nebula who, not only wanted to desperately love her sister, but was tortured every time she lost to her in combat. Their relationship has always been very unstable. And the fact that they were finally able to find a way to move past the trauma and truly love each other is very powerful and emotional to me. Despite everything that Thanos put them through, they found a way to finally love each other as sisters. And that's beautiful.
Peter and his Father (Daddy):
Peter has had to deal with a lot of pain when it comes to his family life. He had to watch his mother die, he was abducted and thrusted into a new life without any warning. That must have been emotionally confusing as hell for a young kid like him. He went most of his life not knowing who his father was. He always thought the thing he wanted most in the world was to have a loving relationship with his father. And when Ego comes into his life, Peter believes that his life is finally complete. He finally has a father, he finally has a purpose. Ego's ego spreads to Peter and it ruins his relationship with the Guardians. And he becomes more invested in becoming a god than caring for his family that he already made with the Guardians. The film poses a great question of what it means to be a father, or daddy. You can be someone's biological father, but being a dad means so much more than just shooting sperm into some lady's vagina. Raising the kid well, giving them good memories, teaching them morals, etc. is all apart of being a daddy and not just a father. Yondu gave Peter that. Ego may have been biologically related to Peter, but he could have never been a good dad, even if Yondu did deliver Peter to him when Peter was young. The thing Peter thought he had been searching for his entire life was right there beside him all along and he didn't even realize it until his dad was gone. How fucking sad is that?
In the end, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is a film that strangely impacts me heavily. The fact that James Gunn was given total creative freedom on this film and decided to explore these characters and their flaws so deeply is something that I greatly admire. The little character moments in Vol. 2 that add to the story so beautifully, like Gamora sitting in a silent field just thinking to herself, or Peter and Gamora having a romantic dance, or even the final shot of Rocket crying at Yondu's funeral, help to make the film so special and stand out amongst other MCU films. The fact that this can stand alone as a great piece of moviemaking that is emotionally powerful and even resonate is, in and of itself, kind of a miracle. The MCU CAN be cinema, and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is proof of that.