Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is better than the first movie (VIDEO)
So. I really loved Guardians 2. I often feel like the only one that does. Everyone seems to like it, but not love it, like the first film. Many people seem to think it’s the same as the first, but again, and lesser. And that’s at least wrong in it being the same movie. Others just think it’s just not as good as the first film. Which will be harder to argue. Either way, what’s going to happen here is I am gonna say what I think, you’re all gonna change your mnds to agree with me, and then we’re gonna go our separate ways.
Guardians 1 is a solid movie, and a fun movie. It has very memorable characters in fun sequences set to cool music and son. It’s good. It stood out for a reason. I am not trying to deny that. But one could argue it is just Star Wars, with a racoon, and a Tarantino-esque approach to the soundtrack. I know I am being reductive, so please bear with me. I am just trying to establish why the second movie is so much more.
Guardians 2 is bigger, sillier and generally more wacky. It’s the out-of-this world pulpy space adventure these films should be. It embraces the campier elements of space opera tradition. The heroes’ powers are more accentuated. The situations are more ludicrous. Rather than borrow from the grit of Star Wars, Guardians 2 is influenced by the pulpy space opera stories that preceded Star Wars. There are alien priestesses with kitschy visual designs. There’s a living planet whose plan to take over the universe involves getting laid everywhere.
Star-Lord gets to have God-like powers too, rather than be the love child of Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Sure, he loses the powers by the end, but they embrace that now very old piece of Star-Lord’s character history. Marvel comics, and the original Guardians comic specifically, were part of that era of pulpy space opera storytelling after all. Director James Gunn states in the commentary track that the story was inspired by Flash Gordon, and that the visual aesthetic was informed by the covers of old pulp fiction books. It’s a love letter to the genre.
Sure, the film still has the snarky jokes and the needle dropping from the first movie, but to say that makes it the same as the first movie is stupid, it’s a very surface based reading. Thematically and emotionally Guardians 2 is a very different movie. One could argue that the first movie is structurally tighter than the second, and you’d be right. But the first movie sacrifices so much room for character beats by having a leaner control of basic story beats.
Gamora makes no sense in the first movie. In her first scene she’s Ronan’s lackey, or pretending to be at least. Next time we see her she is stealing the MacGuffin from Peter Quill, now with freedom fighter leanings. There’s about three missing characters beats there. You could do a whole film about that transformation. This rushed approach to character is in the rest of the film. Groot is nice, and that’s his reason for joining up. Star-Lord wants to be a hero, or something. Sure, he’s inspired by the memory of his mother, but that is never really fully connected properly to the conflict with Ronan. Rocket is inspired by the speech I guess? Drax wants vengeance, that’s clear, if simplistic. His decision to work with the team as a new family is the most solid piece of motivation in the movie to be fair.
Don’t get me wrong. The character work is functional, just underdeveloped. In Guardians 2 we get tonnes about Peter’s relationship with Yondu and Ego. We get much more context with Gamora and Nebula’s relationship, followed by well earned growth. Drax gets to form an older brother relationship with Mantis. Rocket’s bitter nature and constant embrace and following rejection of heroism is explored fully. Sure, Groot is a gimmick again, but at least it’s a new gimmick with particular behaviour patterns with each different character.
Guardians 2 just does more. It’s sloppier in its structure and execution, but said structure and execution is still solid, if not good. As opposed to a leaner film that doesn’t have thorough character work. Guardians 2 also embraces its genre influence, and the sheer silliness and wonder of them. It doesn’t take the magical space stuff too seriously, but the film still takes the proceedings seriously when it matters. It goes for pathos, and it manages. Look past the slower pace and seemingly repeated witticisms, and there is a great film there. Possibly a greater one.