Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My worst fears were repeatedly confirmed in the first half hour, a blatant and honestly kind of pathetic fan-service highlight reel of the first film which delivers more of the same, but worse. Much to my surprise and delight, however, once this terribly overlong film got out of its own way, it turned into a fun science-fantasy film, delivering far more pulp-action sensawunda than any Star Wars prequel (or even legacyquel) to date.

This is possibly the most “comic book” Marvel film plot yet, with the sort of overstuffed story arcs you might stumble on if you plucked a back issue of a long-running series out of a longbox at random. It only really falters when, like its print siblings, it is too obviously trying to serve the masters of collector-focused continuity (in the form of references, callbacks, and Easter eggs to fan theories) and circulation-obsessed franchise-building (desperately latching on to the thing that worked previously, and then driving it into the ground).

The first film rightly took some lumps for both the casual misogyny of some of the main characters, and for the way it repeatedly sidelined its Green-Skinned Space Babe in favor of visually objectifying her. This film tries to add some depth to the relationship between “sisters” Gamora and Nebula, which is very much welcome. I’m less sure how I feel about introducing the superhero Mantis as, effectively, a rehash of The Collector’s rebellious “attendant” Carina from the first film. The intent is clearly to comment on the creepy power dynamics but the film also makes her the punchline in a series of gendered (and orientalist) gags.

I started the day with a rewatch of the first Guardians which left me grumpy, disheartened, and considering putting off seeing the new movie until I was in a better mood. I’m glad I went ahead and used my pre-purchased ticket, however; the parts I enjoyed in this sequel not only outweighed the parts that I have pretty serious qualms about, but also retroactively made me feel better about the first film.

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