They Could Be Heroes…

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [2017]



The head honchos at Disney, which Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of, are starting to build up a nasty reputation for not getting along with the young upcoming directors they consistently hire for their large-scale productions.


Despite their rigid insistence to the company line that they only want to hire directors that are capable of executing their own unique vision, the head honchos in charge of producing some of the biggest releases of the last few years have fallen out with a number of young directors hired to do just this.


Edgar Wright might have received a writing credit for his work on Ant-Man, but he was unceremoniously separated from the project after Marvel saw fit to hire fresh blood to re-write a script that he had spent years working on. Similarly, dynamic duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were removed from the set of the upcoming Hans Solo film after their vision of the movie didn’t quite match up with the producers’; they were replaced by journeyman director Ron Howard hot of such ‘successes’ as Inferno and In The Heart of the Sea.


That why it’s a surprise that James Gunn, writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy and this year’s Vol. 2 has had no problems transitioning from small scale independent movie making to big-budget blockbusters. Although he’d worked in the movie industry for nearly 20 years, he didn’t catch the eye of the men at Disney until he released a superhero movie of his own, 2010’s Super. Graphically violent, sexually explicit and jarringly off-beat, it’s hard to see why Kevin Feige and co. thought he’d be suitable for the Guardians job.


The first movie proved naysayers (like me) wrong. The film was critically acclaimed and a box-office smash, what’s more – it was really good. Packed full of the off-beat humour that many thought wouldn’t fit into a Marvel film, this was the superhero movie that no one saw coming, based on a property that was unknown to the movie going public.



Coming three years later, Gunn’s sequel is by and large comprised of the same components that made the first film such a success. Rocking retro soundtrack? Check. Quick-fire bickering and banter? Check. Obligatory CGI-rammed finale? Unfortunately – check.


It would seem that James Gunn’s healthy working relationship with Marvel and Disney is in part thanks to his ability to balance his vision with theirs. He might well succeed in convincing the studio that it’s OK to cut away from the opening action sequence to focus on a baby tree dancing to ELO, but he doesn’t quite talk them round to omitting a laughable CGI-blob that threatens to engulf an unrelated, nameless town on Earth in the final act.


As much as the Guardians series hinges on it’s unique identity, separating itself from the rest of the Marvel-U, it still conforms structurally to the way the other films in the series work. An opening prologue featuring a de-aged Kurt Russell is less surprising than it should be and the aforementioned blob/CGI-fest at the end seems a little rote, in a film that otherwise chooses to play by it’s own strange rules.


Despite these misgivings, Gunn has produced another crowd-pleaser that serves to prove the point that Marvel is far from done with making solid, action romps for a wide, engaged audience.