This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.
Guardians Of The Galaxy was a huge success. By banking on Super and Slither director James Gunn – and a band of second-tier Marvel Comics characters including a talking Racoon and a sentient tree – Marvel Studios found themselves a new hugely-lucrative franchise.
From a production budget of $170 million, the first Guardians movie raked in a worldwide box office of over $770 million. And that’s not even taking into account the considerable sales of Awesome Mix Vol. 1, a soundtrack album that Gunn himself picked the songs for, which went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies and climb to the top of the American Billboard chart.
There’s also the sizeable fact that Gunn’s film popularised the likes of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket in the mainstream domain. Marvel Entertainment is now running an animated TV show heavily inspired by the film. Marvel Comics has adopted elements from the film, too. There’s also the small matter that the film built a fervent fan base incredibly quickly, and earned itself loads of positive reviews to boot. Review aggregators aren’t our favorite thing in the world, but it’s impossible to scoff at a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
For James Gunn, the pressure is on to produce a sequel that lives up to the original. How do you top a film that successful? We certainly don’t know. We are good at Googling things, though, so we compiled all the available information on Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, to try and piece together what’s in store for us…
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 details – the basics
There are a few things we know for sure about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. For starters, we know that James Gunn is returning to direct and write (without scripting help from Marvel regular Nicole Perlman, this time) after the triumphant success of the first movie. Naturally, he’ll reassemble the same gang of Guardians that proved so likeable in the original film.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 has a release date of April 28th 2017 in the UK and May 5th, 2017 in the US. Before then, we will have seen Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, though it seems unlikely that either will have a huge influence on Vol. 2.
Guardians Of The Galaxy gave us a few clues of things to come. It ended with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Sean Gunn/Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon, and Vin Diesel’s Groot (now reduced to plant-pot size) flying off in the Milano. Exactly what they did next remains a mystery.
Karen Gillan’s Nebula and Benicio Del Toro’s Collector had taken a bit of a beating by the end of the first film, but they’re still alive. As is Michael Rooker’s Yondu and his gang of Ravagers. All of these characters will return, possibly with a lot more stuff to do. Nebula, in particular, is believed to have an expanded role.
Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and the rest of fine folk at Nova Corps were charged with protecting the powerful Infinity Stone known as The Orb at the end of Guardians. With Ronan out of the picture, Thanos is bound to have The Orb in his sights. Judging by the end of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, he’ll begin trying to collect the Infinity Stones sooner rather than later.
The biggest dangling thread is the identity of Peter Quill’s dad, which we’ll come back to shortly.
It’s worth noting as well – although the Guardians Of The Galaxy animated series presents itself as a follow-up to the first film, the events it depicts aren’t considered canonical within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You’ll find no clues about Vol. 2’s plot points in the animated series, particularly because James Gunn wasn’t involved in the production process at all.
Of course, Guardians Of The Galaxy teed up one hell of a mystery – who is Star-Lord’s father? We know his mum is human, but his unique DNA points towards “something ancient” that the Nova Corps have never seen before on his dad’s side. So, whoever Peter Quill’s dad is, he’s definitely otherworldly.
In the comics, J’Son of Spartax – the leader of an alien empire who came to Earth and met Peter’s mum – turns out to be Star-Lord’s dad. James Gunn has openly stated on numerous occasions, though, that he’ll be trying something new, so J’Son is not the father of the MCU’s Peter Quill. There have been plenty of rumors, though. Thanos, some sort of Celestial, and even a classic version of Captain Marvel have all been mentioned.
Whoever turns out to be Quill’s dad, you can bet that the revelation will have a hefty emotional impact on Peter. The first film showed us how the death of his mother still affects Star-Lord all these years later. It took saving the world for Peter to finally pluck up the courage to open his mom’s last present to him.
Now, imagine, after all that, meeting a dad that you never knew. Peter is bound to want answers – why did his dad never introduce himself? Why did he leave his mother? Why didn’t he come looking for Quill after the Ravagers never came through on their deal? Quill’s relationship with his newfound dad will probably be a big emotional chunk of the film, assuming that dad shows up with enough running time left on the clock to make an impact.
For a superhero film, Guardians Of The Galaxy was incredibly high on emotional material. We had Peter’s mom, Groot’s sacrifice, the burgeoning romance between Gamora and Quill, Gamora and Nebula’s sisterly rivalry, Drax revenging his family, and, err… that bit where Rocket gets stroked on the back of the head. We’d bet that Gunn will bring more of this winning investment in character arcs to the second movie.
Every movie sequel tends to have a few new characters, of course, but James Gunn is on the record as not wanting to overload his second Guardians film with too many unfamiliar faces.
“People ask for so many characters to be in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 and they ask for so many actors who they want to be in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 but we actually have less characters in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 than we have in Guardians Of The Galaxy 1,” he said during a Facebook Q&A.
“Because everything is just getting too sprawling and too crazy for me in these superhero comic book movies,” he explained. “And also in superhero comics in general. There’s just too many characters so you can’t concentrate on one and really get to know that character, and I really want to get to know the characters that we know better, and yeah, we will be introducing a new character…”
And, sure enough, a new character was added to the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 roster fairly soon afterwards. French actress Pom Klementieff (pictured above) will play Mantis, a martial arts expert, telepath and and sometime Avenger (in the comics, at least), who gained her powers as the result of an alien experiment. It remains to be seen whether Mantis will be an official member of the Guardians team, or a supporting character with her own separate agenda.
In the comics, Mantis is a Vietnamese national, but Gunn could change her origin and make her an alien, if his story demands it. It’s worth noting, after all, that Gunn isn’t hugely keen on the idea of adding more Earthly characters to the film – “for the time being, it’s important to me that Quill is the sole human (earthling) character,” he said in another online Q&A.
So, if you’re hoping to see any familiar Earth-based characters showing up – akin to Bruce Banner/the Hulk’s upcoming role in Thor: Ragnarok – it’s best not to hold your breath.
One potential new character that was hinted visually in the first movie was the spacefaring superhero Adam Warlock (a cocoon in among the Collector’s horde would’ve looked very familiar to some comic book fans), but, at the moment, he hasn’t been confirmed for an appearance. Judging by Gunn’s aforementioned statements about new characters, it doesn’t seem hugely likely that he’d add two new heroes – Mantis and Adam Warlock – at the same time. We could be wrong, of course (and often are).
Of course, there’s the small matter of finding the right bad guy to battle the Guardians, as well. In the first movie, the MCU’s big bad Thanos was the overshadowing threat, with Ronan, Nebula and – for a brief time – Gamora doing his evil bidding. Ronan caused the most trouble, attempting to enact genocide on Xandar before Star-Lord distracted him with his dance moves and the Guardians exploded the black and blue bastard using The Orb.
Ronan, due to the whole blowing-up thing, is out of contention for a role in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. James Gunn confirmed this himself, in another of his wonderful Facebook Q&As. So who will fill his villainous boots?
We know that Thanos and Nebula will still be up to no good, of course, but it doesn’t seem likely that Marvel will want Thanos to be the main villain. That’s the USP of the two upcoming Infinity War movies, after all. Thanos will probably be a presence in Vol. 2, but we’d be surprised if he was doing much more than amassing power and ordering his nefarious lackeys about. Again, we could be wrong there.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 will include “other threats the Guardians are going to be facing that are not Thanos,” Gunn confirmed to Empire Online. So, we can say with a fair amount of confidence that there will be a new villain joining the ranks. Variety has claimed in recent months that Matthew McConaughey had been offered a villainous role, before sadly turning it down.
Exactly what role he opted not to take, we don’t know. But McConaughey’s gender, stature and appearance give us a few ideas. Could The Magus – the evil incarnation of the aforementioned long-locked hero Adam Warlock – play a part? Such a plan would certainly serve to introduce Warlock without overloading the heroic side of the fence, after all. Or perhaps Thane, another of Thanos’ children with a lust for evildoing, could be the new villain.
At this stage, we genuinely know nothing about the new baddie, so we’ll have to update this section as we hear more.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is built on references, nods, crossovers, and Easter eggs. For the most part, though, the first Guardians Of The Galaxy film steered clear of referencing the any other Marvel movies. Besides Thanos and The Collector showing up after cameo appearances in other films, there wasn’t really any overt links to the wider MCU. That is, unless Marvel are working on a Howard The Duck or Cosmo The Spacedog movie that we don’t know about.
There’s a chance, though, that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 could have bigger links to the rest of Marvel’s slate. After all, Thanos is arriving on Earth to start an Infinity War exactly a year after Guardians 2 comes out. Perhaps Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 will show us why. Admittedly, that could instead be Thor: Ragnarok’s job. Ragnarok is the last space-set Marvel movie before Infinity War, after all.
James Gunn has stressed already that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is not a prelude to Infinity War, as he told Jeff Goldsmith on his podcast.
“We really are mostly focused on creating the Guardians as their own separate universe, creating the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. It isn’t all about leading towards Avengers. We’re not subservient to the Avengers,” he explained.
“Guardians Of The Galaxy [Vol. 2] does not exist as a prequel to Avengers 3 and 4. They have their own thing that they’re involved in. They have their own mythos that they’re involved in. They have their own stories that are equally important.”
It’s nice to hear, isn’t it, that Gunn isn’t a slave to foreshadowing someone else’s movie? Judging by all the statements he’s made about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, it sounds like he’s heavily invested in developing his characters and crafting a good story, rather than squeezing the film into any other agenda.
At the moment, that’s everything we know about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. As we hear any more, we’ll tweak and update this article to make sure it’s accurate…