Director, James Gunn, delivered a modern (and epic) space saga that really lived up to the hype, not for just fans of the comics, but for the average movie-goer. He impressively chronicled the formation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, from a ragtag band of misfits to a diverse family, led by Earth's Peter Quill aka Star Lord.
It detailed their journey to recover the Power Stone as Thanos firmed up his hunt to find each and every one of the Infinity Stones to create the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet. The sequel looks at their growth since, as well as the mystery of Star Lord's lineage, they continue to police outer space, and unwittingly act as a first wave of protection against the galaxy's biggest threats. With a swath of promotional content already released, CBR decided to look at 15 things we want from the sequel.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy movie
15 THE THANOS IMPERATIVE
Gunn has already said that Thanos won't appear in "Vol. 2," but we're hoping this is just to throw us off. After all, the original gave us his first appearance that wasn't in a post-credits scene, laying down the law for Ronan and Nebula to stop the Guardians and recover the Orb (Power Stone). Building to "Avengers: Infinity War" and Nebula's defection, it would make sense to touch on Thanos' role in developing her and Gamora as war dogs who have now fully betrayed him.
Apart from that family dynamic, we already have a taste of him armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, ready to stop using lackeys and do things himself. Seeing him attack, say, The Collector (who has the Aether, or Reality Stone, from "Thor: The Dark World") or the Nova Corps (who are housing the Orb) would show he means business and is ready to take matters into his own hand, literally. It's clear his imperative is an impending invasion of Earth and appearing here would be another organic step in his ambition.
14 THE CANCERVERSE
The Cancerverse was a warped universe existing at the end of a tear in space and time called The Fault, as a result of the war between the Kree and the Shi'ar. Inside the Cancerverse, Death didn't exist and the reality was fueled by malevolent beings called the Many-Angled Ones. The dark reflections inside, who wanted to penetrate and spread throughout the entire universe, were led by Lord Mar-Vell and the Revengers, an evil Avengers-esque team.
It took the Nova Corps' Richard Rider, the Guardians, as well as Thanos, to combat the threat, but eventually, they got the job done in a war that took quite a few casualties. The Cancerverse was a place where Thanos was weakened because there was no Death and it felt like an inverted world, similar to the "Upside Down" of "Stranger Things." This would be a neat comic nod for the Guardians to explore because in the books, it took a harsh toll on their team, particularly Star Lord. It was a monster-filled and truly horrific place to explore.
13 ROMANCE FOR ROCKET
Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is one of the Guardians' most beloved members, in film and in the comics. He's seen, despite his stature, as their big gun and does a lot of their dirty and offensive work. With the plethora of aliens in Gunn's universe, why can't he catch a break and find a significant other? There's only so much gunfiring and babysitting of a certain Groot that a raccoon can do without getting overly lonely.
If Star Lord can get a girl, what's stopping the writers from giving Rocket a just reward? He's been in the trenches almost every time they go into battle and is, by far, one of the bravest souls in the MCU today. Imagine the cute factor and toy sales to be reaped if Rocket's coupled off. Also, in a story that's filled with humor, it would add such an intriguing dynamic, especially with Drax sure to chime in. A spot of Rocket Romance would be an interesting (and adorable) twist, and could successfully soften the character in a fun way.
12 PROPERLY BALANCED HUMOR
Balanced humor is something that the MCU needs to work on. The last two "Captain America" films did a great job balancing the grit with the lighter of side of things. The latter came out way too much in the "Iron Man" franchise, "Doctor Strange" and Gunn's first "Guardians" flick, especially where Star Lord ended up dazzling Ronan with a dance-off in the movie's climax. It was endearing. sure, but it also felt out of place at such an urgent moment, reiterating Chris Pratt's interpretation of the character throughout.
We get it. Marvel Studios isn't going that dark route of DC, but now, the stakes are raised with Thanos coming. We don't expect them to lose this humorous essence but this sequel should have a deeper sense of gravity to it, which doesn't seem that way with all the funny Drax stuff shown so far. It's all good, cute fun and doesn't dictate what the entire movie will be, but with so many of the Guardians having quirky and cantankerous personalities, we'd like a serious tone to stand out. Drax can't be taken seriously as "The Destroyer" if he's a comedian.
11 ATTILAN'S EXISTENCE
Marvel fans were disappointed that Inhumans would be getting the television treatment on ABC as opposed to a movie in Phase Four of the MCU. They thought that Gunn's team opened the doors for them to come to cinemas and tie in to the greater galaxy, as opposed to network television a la "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." However, with the series to premiere in IMAX theaters later this year, "Vol.2" in May would be a great place to name-drop, offer easter eggs and reveal cameos for what's coming.
The simplest would be Attilan, the Inhumans' base, which has gone mobile since leaving the moon. Gunn loves exploring new worlds and star treks with his team, so why can't their journey take them past there? Or maybe have Ego (Star Lord's father) talk about it. This would feel like they are connected to the greater fabric of the MCU as opposed to being peripheral or supplemental, like the Netflix street-level series. Attilan and its inhabitants, as per the comics, deserve a place in the cinematic spotlight, even if for a minute.
10 THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF TRUTH
The Universal Church of Truth is seen as a cult in the comics. This religious empire spans the galaxy, containing several aliens, who follow a very rigid and deadly hierarchy. The head of the Church and object of its worship is Adam Warlock's evil personality, the Magus, who is as genocidal as he is conniving. The assistant to the Church leader is the Matriarch while all doctrines and philosophies are enforced through their Black Knights. All matters of law are subject to a Grand Inquisitor, creating a political atmosphere, as well.
Members of the Church want the darkness of the Cancerverse to pollute the galaxy, marking them as a galactic terror organization made up of extremists and fanatics, as well. Even if Magus doesn't appear in this film, the Church would be a great indicator as to what Gunn has planned later down the line. They could also be a potential visit for Thanos, who may be seeking more information of how to go about his crusade of death and blight.
9 YONDU AND NEBULA
In the first film, Yondu spearheaded a group of outlaw mercenaries called the Ravagers and he was responsible for grooming him. He ended up being a main antagonist in the battle for the Orb, but the movie ended with him revealing there was a very critical tie with him and Star Lord's father, while also showing his heroic roots. To have him join ranks would be interesting, but hopefully it isn't just to push the paternal thread forward. He and Quill have some serious beef to work through.
Another family dynamic that hopefully isn't forced is Nebula and Gamora. It's vague as to what drives Nebula away from Thanos, but Gunn has stated he'll show more of their backstory and just why they got fed up of his upbringing and bloodlust. Nebula's end-game is more suspicious; she didn't show much altruism in the last movie, after all, so she could well end up being a double agent. Either way, if these folks are defecting, we deserve proper motivations and explanations.
8 MORE ROCKET AND GROOT
Fans want more kickass shoot em' up scenes similar to the first movie, where we saw Rocket and Groot bear arms in a breathtaking jailbreak. That scene of Rocket on Groot firing away was iconic for the franchise and now, it's the reverse, with Baby Groot standing on Rocket's shoulder. Groot and Rocket spraying and praying would be super cute, while at the same time maintaining that high-octane thrust of action. Let's face it, when this duo unloads, you're gonna have a good time!
They've already got a sentimental and endearing relationship, of course. They're best friends who truly understand each other, as was evidenced by the tear-jerking scene when Rocket thought Groot died. Now, Rocket is a guardian in a bigger sense -- that of a sort-of parent -- so there's that added dimension we need to factor in as well. It's not just teammates blowing stuff up; now, it's a mentor and his protege. The more we get with them waging war on villains, the better. MCU fans lap up everything this dynamic duo do together, and we want more!
7 QUILL THE LEADER
With Thanos coming and the Guardians set to meet a very fractured Avengers team as part of the defense strategy later on, we need Star Lord to be a true leader and not just a quippy, music-loving, dance-off kinda guy. As we mentioned earlier, including too many quips and jokes makes him just another Tony Stark or Doctor Strange; but they're not likely to face Thanos before Quill does, so that's why we're hoping this movie finds him more assertive and calculating.
Star Lord needs a more grave approach because now he's leading and managing a team of unique characters. If he's not on his game, it'll be hard to take them seriously. He showed bits and pieces of this in the first film so here's to seeing more of this dominant leadership, while not losing too much of his distinct personality. Keep him on the light side when need be, but seeing that this movie deals with his heritage, we expect Quill to adopt a serious stance and adult outlook as a protector of the universe.
6 THE SOUL STONE
The Soul Stone is the last outstanding Infinity Stone on the list. In addition to the two we mentioned previously, the Tesseract, or Space Stone, is in Odin's Vault on Asgard (which could be exposed with Loki impersonating Odin), the Mind Stone is in Vision's head on Earth, and the Time Stone is in the Eye of Agamotto in the Kamar-Taj Library (watched over by Strange and Wong). Speculation is rife as to where this outstanding stone is and this movie, along with "Thor: Ragnarok," are the only galactic showcases before "Infinity War."
Wakanda could be an option in 2018, especially as part of the rite of passage involved with becoming a Black Panther, an element of which is to meet the spirits of past ancestors and mantle-holders, so Ryan Coogler's movie may house that gem. Even if "Black Panther" is hosting it, Gunn should address it here because his first foray was so adamant about setting up the importance of them to Thanos. Maybe Ego The Living Planet actually has it? Finding it would be a great way of him sending his son, Star Lord, on another precious mission.
5 THE AVENGERS
At this juncture, Star Lord's team will be surely caught in the storm known as Thanos as he embarks on filling his Infinity Gauntlet. When he begins, he'll most likely visit the Collector and Xandar (home of the Nova Corps) before making his way to Earth and Asgard. While "Thor: Ragnarok" could see the titular hero (as per his vision in "Age of Ultron") garner knowledge as to what's coming, chances are that the Guardians may have to let Earth know that Thanos is heading their way too.
Quill's affinity for home would make this even sweeter and we could see Iron Man being a contact, a la the recent Brian Bendis comics with the Guardians. Vision will be a target for his Mind Stone, so therein lies a link, as well as Stark's ever-expanding exploration of technology since the Chitauri invasion. If Thor warns Asgard, he could also relay the information to Earth, but given the "Civil War" that erupted, Earth heroes may be dealing with internal issues of their own. The impetus will be on Star Lord's posse to phone home and start shoring up.
4 DON'T FEAR THE REAPER
The revolving door of death cannot be the same for movies as in comics. The MCU stunned fans with Quicksilver's death in "Age of Ultron," but you felt the repercussions thereafter in "Civil War." The other franchises usually steer away from death, especially when it comes to killing off heroes. The first movie killed Groot but then had him reborn, which could be understood because he is such an instrumental part of the team. However, on the second go, people may be a bit more expendable.
If Gunn wants to start shooting folks out of the movie, he's got some supporting cast to fiddle with. Yondu and Nebula aren't core, so even while they've just joined the main Guardians roster, their overall arcs are to help develop other characters such as Star Lord and Gamora. The audience would feel their deaths, but won't really miss them, as opposed to one of the main crew. Gunn could also flip the situation on its head and take a main player off the table. Chances are, though, as per the comics, they'll leave this for a Thanos clash later.
3 EPIC CAMEOS
"Infinity War" is set to throw everyone together in the MCU to face Thanos, and by the time he meets them, he may well be wielding a few Infinity Stones. To bulk things up, especially on the galactic front, key figures could be tossed in here, especially those made relevant by the modern Marvel space sagas from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Darkhawk, Quasar, Phylla-Vell and Mar-Vell would make sense, especially as "Captain Marvel" is underway.
The fan-favorite Richard Rider would be a great cameo too, as he's undoubtedly the most beloved Nova Corps member in the books. Moondragon is another option with close ties to the Guardians, as well as Uatu The Watcher, which would be an epic way of foreshadowing the destruction to come. If we could get Howard The Duck and Cosmo, then why not these lore-relevant characters? The one we're hoping for most is Adam Warlock, the being engineered to oppose Thanos, and given his female counterpart, Ayesha, is in the movie, we're keeping our fingers crossed that he gets more screen time than his cocoon easter egg in the prequel.
2 BETTER BADDIES
The jury's out as to who the real villain is in this sequel. It could end up being Ayesha, the female version of Adam Warlock, or maybe it's a secret reveal such as Magus. Fans have been told it won't be Thanos so then there's the option of a double-cross with the antagonist being Ego, Nebula or Yondu. This uncertainty and anticipation is good, as it keeps us guessing and pivoting on our toes, making the film fresh.
The last movie promised a lot in terms of villains, though many think it under-delivered. Nebula was a spoiled brat and Ronan fell totally flat, especially at the end. The latter, in particular, had a sinister presence about him, but we never saw him really make the heroes pay. The MCU villains such as Malekith, Kaecilius and even Red Skull all touted a big game, but didn't get proper fleshing-out as the superheroes. We're hoping this mysterious villain comes off menacing and actually gets a proper backstory to build on his or her intimidation. We need someone strong and dangerous, setting a precedent for "Infinity War" and the Mad Titan to come.
1 DAT SOUNDTRACK
The soundtrack to the first film was one of the biggest positives of the movie. It set the tone of action, blended with humor, and felt like a character on its own. It spiced things up and flavored the story of Star Lord, displaced from Earth, with such a distinct personality. The eclectic mix of rock and roll and retro pop on the whole, cultivated a warm atmosphere that never disconnected from the space war at hand. Blue Swede's "Hooked On A Feeling" and The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" emphasized this.
The sequel's already lit the fire in the teaser trailer with Sweet's "Fox On The Run" and Gunn has already promised something more diverse. What can be more diverse than Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, Rupert Holmes and The Runaways, though? The first bar was set pretty high, so if "Vol.2" as a mixtape wants to surpass it, it's staring at a pretty tall order on the charts of fan expectations. Nonetheless, seeing Star Lord react and share more of these jams is indeed an exciting prospect.
What are you looking forward to in the Guardians sequel? Let us know in the comments!
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" hits American theaters on May 5, 2017.