A couple years ago, Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel’s big risk, the high-concept uncertainty in their superhero line-up, but then it turned out to be a big hit and they’re basically bulletproof because of it. So the follow up, appended with “vol. 2”, has some big shoes to fill. James Gunn stayed on to write and direct the sequel, and while the first Guardians was pretty distinctively Gunn in tone, I’ve heard vol. 2 is full-Gunn, unrestrained—which means funny, weird, maybe a little gross, a bit sad, but triumphant in the end.
Guardians has been flying under my radar mainly because the prospect of finally getting a good Thor movie is more interesting, but the confidence Marvel is displaying in vol. 2 is crazy. Let’s put it this way—they were stoked about Civil War, and it did indeed to turn out to be a huge popular hit. But they’re UNREASONABLE about vol. 2, and even though it’s over seven months until it comes out, let’s be honest. There’s no way this movie doesn’t crack a billion and probably get even better reviews than Civil War (it’s funnier, which people will remember as “better”).
A cocky-ass brag video for vol. 2 was just released on Marvel’s Twitter—not even a proper teaser, just an actual bit of tossed-off bravura—and there’s a new poster as well. Boy, you can tell the marketing budget has gone up post-divorce at Marvel. The poster is tight, and the not-teaser is perfect. It uses “Hooked On a Feeling” again, recalling the trailer for the first movie which started the trend of superhero movies having rock songs in their trailers, and it runs a montage of all the characters we know from the first movie—Rocket, Drax, Star-Lord, Gamora, Nebula, Michael Rooker as Yondu, and, right at the end, Toddler Groot in a little toddler jumpsuit. You thought dancing baby Groot was cute? Wait till you see Toddler Groot in action. People will lose their minds.
There’s no story on display, but the interaction between Drax and Peter Quill establishes that 1) Quill and Gamora haven’t gotten their sh*t together yet, and 2) the chemistry that made the first movie so fun is still intact. Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt have become friends, and it shows in this scene. What made the Avengers so compelling was the feeling of real-life friendships that translated onto the screen, and that is now happening for the Guardians.
But the really great thing about this trailer is that it isn’t showing us Kurt Russell and Pom Klementieff, or Elizabeth Debicki as the villain. It’s the first look at a new movie, yet they’re holding back all the new stuff—this is that confidence on display. They know they don’t need to go to the A material to sell this movie. 2017 is stacked with superhero movies, including Wonder Woman and Justice League. Both of those movies are going to be big. But when Toddler Groot pops out and looks at us with his cute baby eyes, I think we’re looking at the biggest superhero movie of 2017.
*(Lainey: sorry I had to shove my ass into the title there but holy SH-T, is Chris Pratt hotter in this movie than he’s ever been before?!?)