YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, O READER, THAT I INTEND TO TALK ABOUT SOME SPOILERS PROBABLY MAYBE.

I will do my best not to make them big, and try to keep them invisible through the wonders of WordPress if I can figure out how. Also, caveat, I am not a comic book enthusiast. I have dipped my toes into the waters of a few comic series and appreciate the art form for what it can be, but by and large, I can’t handle the pacing of the short packets of story. Most of my superhero knowledge comes from movies, essays, and friends (Thank you Golden Avenger especially for walking me through these muddied waters.)

Here we go.

So, I really loved this movie as a whole. I was skeptical when I went to see it because I had really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume One so much, and there does tend to be a movie trend where the second movie isn’t quite as compelling to watch as the first one.

*coughIronMancoughPiratesoftheCarribeancoughLordoftheRingscoughNeedIgooncough*

But, Marvel has done a really good job especially with the Guardians franchise in producing theatrical advertising for their movies that both reveals comedic and crucial story elements without giving context and without giving them their full value in the whole movie. Some scenes in the trailers that look like they come from the giant end battle part of the movie actually are brushed through in the opening moments with ease and plot sense. Which is great! I continue to have high hopes for the directors and producers and actors and so on (thank you all of the people who worked to make this movie, you did awesome!).

The evolution of the music in Guardians is also very well placed and timed, and I think really does add value to the dialogue and the acting. The choice of both classic songs and pieces which have been composed directly for this movie is carefully and powerfully made. Really adds to the character building.

I also enjoyed watching the characters continue to develop relationships from the first movie into this one in a way that I don’t even think Avengers quite makes. Granted, Avenger is a much more fractured team than the Guardians, but even so, the actors in Guardians created a believable timeline between where we left off after the first movie that suggests to me they both have developed their camaraderie and also gotten to know each other well enough to know EXACTLY what is the most annoying thing the other one does.

I really liked the addition of Nebula into the mix, especially as Gamora begins to develop her emotions and relationships beyond the stance of constant vigilance. Seeing the two sisters interact allows for a deeper fleshing out of Gamora’s character, as well as creates an interesting and somehow familiar emotional cocktail of sisterly rivalry, not directed at a male target. The two have such a relationship of jealousy and pain and also connection that strikes me as well-placed while Starlord is coping with his own family issues. It prevents Gamora’s angst from being too romantically driven and complicates her motives. In short, I think it’s good.

I loved watching Groot! But this is to be expected. Groot is probably my favorite character in the Marvel Universe, edging out Captain America very barely. His personality is just so strong and quirky and seeing him as a baby is just adorable. Seeing how his relationship shifts from being a protective tank character in the first movie to his cute, confused, and somehow still independent presence in this movie is a wonderful dynamic in the team. They close ranks around him and make sure he’s safe, even while they despair at his ability to remember which button to push, or what thing to pick up. His strength is clearly still present, but his character is what the directors and writers have chosen to put forth this time. Also, he’s just too darn cute. I would totally make friends with a tree anyway. This is just so unfair.

Rocket’s character growth skirts around his backstory still, but continues to press his system of morals and motives shifting, and through the way he interacts with other characters you see how much the behaviors he chooses are defensive or inviting even when he doesn’t seem to be doing one thing or the other.

*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* <- Though, O Reader, I am not sure why you read this if you didn’t want to be spoiled in some way. Not sure how big a spoil this is, just being cautious in case of….. stubborness?

Having him bond with Yondu as similar character types, and the way he copes with Yondu’s ultimate decision help portray him as a more complex figure than just the snarky, wise-cracking, bullet-happy thief that he likes to play as. Additionally, the entire development and comparison cement him into the Guardians family so clearly that it’s impossible to have a doubt that even this morally gray character is worthy of defending the galaxy. He also has some of the funniest combat moments in the entire movie, and is shown to be a worthy adversary and not just a fluffy pet or mascot.

*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* <- Though some of this is deduced from the trailers, methinks. Oh well, just in case.

I also liked the interaction between Drax and Mantis. I am aware that there has been some backlash about this particular set of characters. He repeatedly calls her ugly, and this is taken by some critics **I MEAN ACADEMIC NOT A NEGATIVE TERM HERE* as the interaction of an adult male telling a woman that she is ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside. And this is seen as a reinforcement of negative cultural behaviors, and leads women deal with the perpetuation of the male gaze. And I don’t deny that this is a valid point to take.

I just don’t think that it acknowledges the full story.

Yes, being told repeatedly that she is ugly might prove detrimental to the naive Mantis’ perspective on herself. But she doesn’t seem to take it as a negative trait about herself; it confuses her more than anything (as is evidenced when she comes to wake Drax up at night), and I think it’s because she sees herself as valued for her power, not her appearance. His comments on appearance don’t hit until the end of the movie, when he tells her she is beautiful on the inside. Not only has he realized her true potential when he asks her to put Peter’s dad to sleep, he has complimented her in the most complicated way that he understands. For his cultural ideal, where his wife didn’t dance and he knew they were meant for eachother, her power seems more important. It’s what she can do, and how good she is at doing it that’s important to him. And that seems like an important thing to consider.

When the Beast in the Beauty and the Beast archetypes is called ugly, or when other Byronic heroes and such are brooding, these are negative words applied to what is often a pleasant ideal. The Beast is ugly, and fierce looking, but his inner worth is what matters. Somehow, by only focusing on his words and not his actions, a large portion of what Drax is actually saying to her is overlooked in a way that we don’t with ugly male characters. I’m not sure why that is, and maybe I am not considering heavily enough the value of a man’s words on a woman’s psyche, but Mantis’ talents are valued and because of that she feels worth. Her appearance is subjective, as well. In an entire Galaxy of races, why would any one race’s ideals of beauty and attractiveness be the same as any others? It’s strange we haven’t run into more of this.

Besides, promoting the idea that everyone finds Mantis attractive also promotes the idea that there is only one type of woman who can be found attractive. All of the women associated with the guardians have a similar body type; they are all slender, abled, and beautiful in a Western ideal. Where are the other body shapes? Even Nebula, who has cybernetic and mechanical pieces of herself is beautiful and seductive. Where is everyone else?

Sorry, got on a rant-tangent. A ran-gent?  anyway. I admit to this relationship being problematic, I would just like to have more of a discussion about it than simply writing it off as a negative relationship that isn’t going anywhere good and can never be healthy.

Peter Quill is following the hero’s arc still, and while it doesn’t bother me, I don’t have the same fan-girl response that some of my friends have. I will admit to crying real tears over his and Yondu’s relationship at the close, but I think the most important thing for me about Quill this movie was seeing how he is beginning to think about himself in terms of his teammates. He isn’t only a romantic interest, he’s an integral part of the team in terms of keeping everyone connected and breaking down tensions. He is more of a peacemaker, even if at times it means that he ends up being stern. Or, perhaps, as a certain Groot would suggest, boring. I will say that his understanding of how he relates to his father, or to Yondu, was a very compelling narrative that was very important. Understanding what it means to him to have a family and to play an active role in the family even if they aren’t blood is a crucial discovery. I’m glad that this was the arc the writers chose for him.

Also, Yondu about broke my heart. I cried for the last five minutes of the movie. That’s all I’m saying about that, though.

The end clips, as always, were excellent. And the little sneak treats in the credits themselves were whimsical and fantastic, and I love it so much. Groot is fabulous.

I will say that one of the end snippets did really really make me mad, and it’s not the movie’s fault at all. It has to do with nomenclature. The Priestess, in a last ditch effort to redeem herself, is shown fallen and lacking her pristine control. She has created her new weapon – Adam.

It frustrated me beyond belief, and I think it’s just because of my academic background, but here’s why. Why on earth would a space race, alien in the sense of foreign, use a Eurocentric, Earthcentric figure as the basis for their creation? Especially since she is out to eliminate a representative of earth. Why? Why does this make sense? It would have bothered me so much less if she had said an alien word, and as they did in other parts of the movie, there were subtitles announcing the Marvel character. One of my friends I saw this with explained that this would only have confused everyone further, and so it doesn’t make sense. But Guardians has had a very cohesive cultural world building and the sudden and huge lapse really bothers me, even if they are pulling from the comics. I feel there may be a better way to deal with this, but I’m not sure what it is.

Overall, though, it was an excellent film, and I would love to see it again.

And thus, O Reader, ends the rant about nothing in particular and a film. The end!

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