It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and Pax over on his blog doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron. my post about Ant-Man, Pax’s about Captain America: Civil War, and Robert’s post about Dr. Strange. Next up in the docket is the second Guardians of the Galaxy entry…

Nerd Lunch has covered this film already in quite some depth when we did our Drill Down for it on the podcast. Not all of the MCU movies have had Podcast Drill Downs, but we did cover the first one and a scheduling snafu caused us to quickly fill in an episode with a discussion of the second one.

One of the things I’ve loved about Marvel all along is their willingness to believe in their characters and take major chances on second and third-string properties. With each movie in the first phase, I was amazed at the quality and success. However, each movie release, I thought “this is the one that’s going to cause it to crash and burn.”

Once the MCU had established it’s footing, I no longer doubted it…until they were going to release Guardians of the Galaxy—the first one. I had limited knowledge of these characters and I felt like I knew a lot about comics. My low expectations helped catapult the first movie into a top tier Marvel movie for me.

That probably worked against me the second time because upon release of volume 2, my expectations were higher. And while I did come out of the movie liking it, subsequent viewings of it have not done it any favors. My main issue is the constant one-note “we are stupid” jokes. As a result, the humor seemed repetitive and repetitive. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, but given a choice between the two, I would definitely go with the first one.

This movie stepped away from the over-arching Thanos plotline and only tangentially mentioned it. He is referenced by his daughters and their subplot might be the thing that is the biggest set up for Avengers: Infinity War.

One of the Easter eggs sets up Adam Warlock who was a MAJOR character in the Infinity Gauntlet/War/Crusade stories in the comic. He ended up with the Gauntlet and became the team leader of the Infinity Watch, a band of characters who each possessed one of the Infinity Gems. However, as owner of the mind stone in his forehead, Vision seems to have filled the “gem in forehead guy” position in the MCU. Too much would have to be done within Infinity War to set up Adam Warlock as a force so I can’t imagine he will be playing a role in this. More likely, he’s on the way for GotG vol 3 (which speculation places as the potentially the second film in Phase 4, but that’s not confirmed).

This movie also deviates from the “chronology” of films. It was arguable that each film should be watched in order of release for the true chronology (Captain America: First Avenger being somewhat of an exception but the framing sequence places it just before Avenger just like its release), but due to Groot’s age, this is placed right after vol 1 up until the Easter Egg which shows an adolescent Groot, more in line with where he will be in Infinity War. When this takes place doesn’t really matter as the impact on Earth was ultimately minimal, only affecting a small town in Missouri. At some point, someone might have shown up, but I presume the duration of these Ego effects did not last long enough for anyone to appear. And if this takes place right after GotG vol 1, this would mean Stark’s role as Iron Man is in flux and Rogers and Romanov is still dealing with the ramifications of SHIELD’s demise.

Moving forward, we had with Quill a potential foil for Thanos given that he was able to hold the Power Stone and survive. Now, he is mere mortal and can offer no help in the same manner he could have before. Gamora and Nebula certainly will have to play a role as daughters of Thanos. And Drax has moved his desire to seek revenge onto Thanos. Rocket and Groot are really just along for the ride. How they interact with the Earth heroes will be interesting. And if this brings the team to Earth, what will it mean for Quill who has presumably not seen his home planet for decades?

Final thoughts from Jay:

The Guardians movies are an oddity when it come to the MCU. Thus far they’ve easily been the least connected to the rest of the franchise, mainly because so little of what occurs within them takes place around Earth. Sure, it’s where Quill originates, but even the events of GOTG2 – which see Earth begin to be consumed by Ego’s giant amorphous blob – downplay the importance of our planet by making it just one of a vast number of worlds undergoing a similar treatment.

Of course there are other connections to the MCU, most notably the ties to Thanos and the infinity stones, but the Guardians have been the most standalone characters so far, and seeing their world come hurtling into the realms of Tony, Cap et al. will certainly be interesting. That’s what makes Infinity War so intriguing for me, as we’ll be getting the chance to see just what interactions will occur when, as we see in the trailer, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Peter Quill and Drax all get together to hash out a plan. The Guardians crew have some of the strongest personalities in the series, something that has made their humour stand out from the rest, so seeing them play against the more straight-laced likes of Cap or Black Panther will be entertaining for sure.

Oh, and I can’t miss this opportunity to mention that the Guardians 2 soundtrack is awesome, and I’d like to thank everyone involved for introducing me to Looking Glass’ Brandy and Jay & The Americans’ Come A Little Bit Closer. Whilst the film sequel doesn’t quite match up to the shiny new delights of the original, music-wise for me it’s an improvement.