There’s a scene in the Guardians of the Galaxy 2, where Yondu the blue skinned glowing mohawk whistling arrow man nervously walks up to another ravager leader and tries to gain his approval and the camera pans up to Sly Stallone wearing a normal jacket with some LED strips on it. It’s just Sylvester Stallone. I don’t know what his name is in the universe but the man isn’t even acting. He’s just being Sly. I was fully expecting him to talk about how he wrote Rocky with a pen and pad because his fingers are too thick for a keyboard or do other Sly Stallone things, talk about Creed or something. How many actors need to be in the Marvel universe? I mean, at this point they’re not even giving them tricky costumes, they’re not being sneaky they’re just calling people up and sticking LED strips on their normal clothes...and that’s my biggest complain about this movie.

I’m not too proud to admit that I was going into Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with a bit of a hater hat on. The first movie was a nice surprise and I fully expected that Marvel would do the Marvel thing and kill the second movie by turning it into just another stop on the way to “the big Thanos” movie or whatever. So imagine my surprise when twenty minutes into the movie I had had survived the first “big confusing action Marvel action sequence”™ without being completely turned off and was having some genuine laughs. The movie is filled with them and it doesn’t stop at laughs either, there are moments of genuine sincerity and sadness in a movie that I don’t think any other movie in the Marvel universe has come CLOSE to touching since the end of the first Captain America movie and even that pales in comparison.

Before I get into the spoiler part of this write up I just wanna say that I really like that this movie has STAKES in it. For almost every character involved aside for Baby Groot and Drax there are very apparent growth curves and introspection that occurs in each of them. This is really a strength of the Guardians as a whole, because they’re lesser known and as so I feel there’s less expectations from Disney/Marvel as to what they have to give the fans. This can lead to more liberty for the film maker and I want to congratulate James Gunn in this regard because this franchise has shown more character development than any other in the Marvel franchise. Not a high bar I realize, but still, it’s done very well. The galaxy IS in danger in this movie AGAIN, but what’s more in peril is the relationships between the characters and that’s what makes this movie worth watching. It’s amazing that at certain points in this movie I felt more like ‘this might be it for these guys’ than I EVER did during Captain America:Civil War which is supposedly the movie that “ended” the Avengers.

Here’s one of the things I really liked about this movie, objectively only TWO things happen in the movie. The Guardians are hired for a job and they complete it, as they receive their reward Rocket does some thieving, they’re chased down and nearly killed before being rescued by a strange being that ends up being Peter Quill’s dad so they go with him to his planet. The planet is a beautiful CGI wonderland,so conveniently the two CGI heavy characters aren’t in the planet for most of the time. Everything else is as a direct consequence of this. This is just good storytelling.

Ultimately Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a good movie that doesn’t shy away from showing sadness, depression, grief, and being a messed up family. It’s those sad moments that make the joyful moments that much more powerful. It’s an earnest movie which is built on character development and not on fan service. It’s the kind of movie Marvel should aspire to make again and again.

PS, If the Marvel/Disney deal did nothing else other than allow that Mary Poppins reference to exist in the movie, then it was all worth it.

PS(2?), if you’re trying to get your girlfriend/wife who isn’t into these types of movies to go with you tell them “Kirk from Gilmore girls” shows up in it, to trick them into going.