ok. im good. we’re good.
guardians 2 is in danger of usurping winter soldier as my favorite of the marvel movies. it has a couple of flaws, which we’ll get to spoilerlessly, and it has a couple of themes that cut the shit out of me, which we will also get to as obliquely as we can before i dive into the spoilers. the problem is, all my complaints are non spoilers, and most of what made me love this film IS spoilers, so, if you stop at the spoiler line your impression may come away overly negative. i loved this movie. we critique because we love.
for starters its absolutely gorgeous. the full spectrum is on display here. apart from the opening scene (well, the Guardians’ opening scene), this is a 3D movie that didn’t engage in gratuitous 3D for its own sake. it’s a very funny movie, although it also spares absolutely no toilet joke, which grates on the nerves quickly, but mercifully goes away. i’d actually say the whole first act is a little rough around the edges. the screenplay could have used a “dont do that” person in the first few scenes and would benefit nicely.
it was a really mixed bag for that first act. you would laugh out loud and then, oog, cool, another pee joke, thanks. there would be an excellent raw moment from a character and then, immediately, something over the top. i understand that for example drax’s point is to be over the top, but good lord, that forced laughter was unbearable the 50,000th time in ten minutes. tough to point at other things without spoiling. and honestly, it was like the movie didn’t know how old its audience was for a while. several times, characters would pointedly stop at “sonuva,” and the worst insult was “douchebag.” but when shit goes down, we can actually finish “sonuvabitch,” and people can swear, and it’s fine. it’s weirdly fun and glib about killing lots of people too. i dunno. it was weird tonally in the first 45 minutes or so.
anyway, when the movie finally gets on with itself, we get just as complete a character arc for #Trashpanda rocket and, weirdly enough, karen gillan’s nebula, as we do for peter himself. peter and rocket’s stories pay off in outstanding fashion for me. what a dope couple of story lines. nebula/gamora pays off less than the other two, but some of that is because of the nature of nebula’s character honestly. she’s just been made to be so cut off and distant that when she finally gets the spoiler she wants she just doesn’t know how to handle it, other than to continue her obsession with killing thanos. it’s real hard for me to relate to is the problem with it. i imagine not a lot of us had titans for fathers who had their children fight for sport. i’m also an only child. shrug.
the final act is just excellent. everything about it is great. i felt like i was watching an A++ final boss battle in some vidya. loved every second of it. any detail would be a spoiler. just trust me the last half hour owns so hard you guys.
it deals with themes of love and hope and acceptance in a way i never expected. it was funny and silly and saturated and somehow, moving. i just wish there wasnt this weird tonal thing going on in the first half and that the bathroom humor was toned down several notches.
anyway, this movie was in the aggregate hilarious, extremely smart in its pacing and themes, beautiful to look at, and beautiful to experience. you should see it and the spoilers start in 3… 2…
okay so i haven’t googled yet. are the christians panning this movie as being about killing god yet? a quick search hasn’t revealed anything so i’m assuming probably not. that surprises me. if harry potter is satanic, certainly so is blowing up the brain of even “a god, little g.” maybe it’s because ego bears no resemblance to the abrahamic god. he’s more of a zeus. he’s certainly the embodiment of his namesake. YOU ARE ALL BELOW ME, AND THERE SHALL BE NOTHING THAT IS NOT ME! hahaha.
so i’ma unwrap the layers here. at the most basic point, this is a victory for humility, chosen family, and sacrifice over egotism. that’s obvious. of course, the humble self-sacrificers are also some murderers and thieves and scoundrels, so the morality play is thin, but that’s what’s there okay?
but that isn’t what really slayed me here. when ego says, for some, unknown, complete idiot reason, that he gave his lover cancer, that he killed her so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back to her anymore, peter rejects him on the spot. that’s fairly predictable. we would figure peter would be anti-killers of his mom. but it’s a little bit more than that.
really often in movies and TV, especially when any element of fantasy is involved, the characters are made to fulfill some destiny. they are becoming who they were supposed to be. that is what it is, it isn’t necessarily a bad or a good thing, but where guardians 2 started throwing dust around the room was when peter rejects all this. he could be a demigod. he could be immortal. WE COULD RULE THE GALAXY, TOGETHER, FATHER AND SON. but peter rejects that. he doesn’t need your destiny. he doesn’t need to be who you think he’s supposed to be. he values his chosen family over his real one because that’s who has actually been there for each other, and that’s real, not this power thing. not this “blood family” who rejects what he values and who he wants to be.
the protagonists of these movies have always been a ragtag misfit band. they come together because they really have nobody else. i’ve been there, man, and there is no tighter bond than the folks who stick together, because the only thing they have in common, is they’re the only people who don’t reject each other. when nebula says “you’re not friends. all you do is yell at each other,” and drax brings the theme home with a sledgehammer because no other character can deliver this cheese with actual seriousness, “no, we’re not. we’re family.” when the people who are supposed to be the closest in your life reject who you are, you cling to those who embrace you for who you are, oddities and perfections and lumps all alike. the ones for whom, all the devils that they don’t know can come along for the ride. in a world where families have only recently started to quit rejecting their queer and trans kids, where trans women are murdered regularly, where gay men are rounded up and tortured in chechnya, in a world where foreigners are expelled and killed and sentenced to death by exile without a fuck given, this is a timely-ass theme and i am here for it.
feel like i need a minute to recover even just talking about it lol. i didnt expect this movie to hug me but here we are. thanks, movie.
the other great arc was the one where rocket grows up. i did not expect yondu to have such a major role in this movie. his redemption story is nice. that the other ravagers or whatever they’re called all showed up to his funeral, yeah, very good, very touching. has half the weight if the movie didn’t draw parallels between yondu and rocket, and also has less weight if the movie didn’t make those parallels clear to rocket himself. the first point of this theme is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. no matter what the universe has made you climb. someone else has been there before.
thats a nice thing to say in a movie but it’s not like it hasn’t been done before or anything. but this movie takes yondu through his redemption arc so that rocket, who seems to have seen himself beyond saving, can see it. yondu has to do something so truly heroic as dying to save the life of his adopted son-ish, because it was necessary to bring all the ravagers or whatever back. to make them proud of him again after they exiled him for being a scumbag. or was it not enough of a scumbag? either way, yondu certainly met exile with “well i’m trash anyway so let’s just get on with it.” the ravagers or whatever came to his viking funeral, displaying their respect for what he did, showing how proud they were, and there’s rocket. he sees that even when yondu was exiled from those people, he was still counted among them. they sent him away for his actions and even mutinied, but ultimately, he was redeemable because they never sent him away for who he was. rocket keeps shoving everybody away like yondu did, and now he sees that while people may not want to be around his lashing out, he still has value, he can still even be honored among them. and there’s a single tear. “oh, don’t do that,” i thought, as the dust blowing out of the vents suddenly mixed with freshly cut onions.
this is a movie about the importance of chosen family, about triumph over people who would have you be something you are not and don’t want to be, about acceptance, a movie that says you, whoever you are, hi! you have value. it’s somehow at the same time a movie that punches eugenicists in the face. in 2017, it’s a movie we sorely needed. and it’s delivered with all the fun, flair, and panache we came to expect from the first guardians movie. god damn i think i’ve talked myself into elevating this movie to the #1 from marvel spot, but i’ll need another watch to make sure.