Movie Pre-Game: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Movie Pre-Game: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

What’s the Deal: Marvel. James Gunn. Dancing Baby Groot. Awesome Mix Volume 2. Fans have salivated three long years for the a-holes to return. The cast has certainly grown into a War & Peace like IMDB page. Will it be too much? Will this suffer from Sequelitis? Holy Marvel overload.

Matt Kelly’s Breakdown

I try to watch Jeopardy every day and I remember an episode from 2015 that blew me away. There was a category about characters that only say one thing and the answer to one of the questions was Groot. And someone got it. So, I went and looked back at the Jeopardy Archives in preparation for this piece. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Sure enough, there was indeed a Groot question, and the craziest thing is that it was the $400 question in Double Jeopardy. That means Guardians of the Galaxy had become so culturally ubiquitous in just one year that Groot was the answer to what’s traditionally a giveaway question. What a world.

Not only was Guardians the biggest surprise hit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it provided the answer to its most prevalent criticism: these movies are too predictable. And its success made a wave in the superhero movie landscape; a wave of weird. Later that year, David Ayer would sign on to direct Suicide Squad, kicking that production into high gear. And you have to be joking if you think there isn’t any chance that Guardians didn’t help nudge the FOX producers to greenlight Deadpool, the surprise hit of 2016. Even Marvel wouldn’t have been so hot on franchises like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange if a certain bunch of a-holes didn’t pave the way. And three years after the original, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is poised to reestablish its dominance in the genre.

We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the sequel. The whole cast is returning with a new unknown adventure. Kurt Russell is going to play a character that damn sure better turn into a giant floating head in space by the end of the film. There are a ton of cameos that the trailers *crosses fingers* haven’t managed to spoil yet. And Baby Groot is going to make so much merchandising money that Bob Iger is going to be able to buy his own continent. Things are looking good.

The Biggest Asset: The success of the original Guardians movie. People are excited.

The Achilles Heel: The success of the original Guardians movie. People might be too excited for Volume 2 to deliver on their incredibly high expectations, no matter how amazing it is.

Daniel Cohen’s Breakdown

By all accounts, I should be dreading this movie. As an enthusiastic Marvel Cinematic Universe detractor, this has all the trappings of a Marvel movie on steroids. CGI all over the place. 900 characters. Jokes packed to the brim like a kid loading up his car to go to college for the first time. A story and villain that feel completely non-existent in favor of shoving as many c-level comic book characters into one frame as possible. Despite all these humongous red flags, I still find myself looking forward to this.

When the first trailers for the original Guardians of the Galaxy were released, I was convinced that movie was going to piss me off beyond belief. It looked obnoxious as hell. Through the seemingly endless supply of safe and overly jokey Marvel films, it turns out Guardians of the Galaxy is the one I ended up liking the most. It’s Ghostbusters in space. Unlike most Marvel movies, where the jokes are there for the sake of jokes, the humor in Guardians works because they are organic to the characters. That’s why it’s funny. Peter Quill. Rocket. Even Drax. All their humor is character driven, not “we need to insert a joke here” driven.

That’s the other reason Guardians separates itself from the pack – James Gunn. While most Marvel movies feel like they were made by a committee, Guardians of the Galaxy is actually a James Gunn movie. It’s unique.

Maybe I’m setting myself up for disappointment and anger, but James Gunn is the reason I’m hopeful this movie satisfies my somewhat lofty expectations. At the very least, I trust James Gunn to make it about character, even if it’s way over stuffed.

This won’t be my favorite movie of the summer, but it will be far from my least.

The Biggest Asset: James Gunn

The Achilles Heel: There’s always a chance Marvel sucks the soul right out of my body and takes a giant, massive dump on it.

Tommy Tracy’s Breakdown

As someone who learned to read from Marvel Comics, I was very annoyed when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced. These characters were stupid (sans Rocket Racoon), and I rarely read their stories. But then James Gunn was announced as writer/director and my interest was piqued. The casting of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Michael Rooker balanced out the strange casting of Bradley Cooper (seriously?) and Vin Diesel (SERIOUSLY?). Per usual, I was there day one and had my mind blown. This film was fun; the ridiculous fun that it needed to be and the comics didn’t dare to be (until after the film).

Three years later, we’re getting the sequel, and it looks like…well, it looks like a lot of fun. This is reminding me a bit of the post Incredible Hulk syndrome. We knew The Avengers was coming, but we had to get through a few more films before we finally saw them all together. With Avengers: Infinity War around the corner, we’re all holding our collective breath to see that film.

The Biggest Asset: Cast Chemistry

The Achilles Heel: Won’t be as fresh as the first one

Matt Kelly: This one is difficult. I’m going to play it a little safer than I expected to and say $1.3 Billion. That’s slightly higher than Civil War, but not quite as high as Age of Ultron. I think the foreign market has expanded since 2015, but I can’t say it’s expanded that much. Clearly Chris Pratt makes money overseas. Vin Diesel is a marketing machine. Early reviews are also pretty solid. Ideally, it hits $1.5 Billion, which would be higher than Ultron, but I think that’s a big ask.

Daniel Cohen: To be honest, this movie is going to be a complete flop. We’ll all be waking up Monday morning trying to figure out what the hell happened. I jest, of course. The question isn’t whether or not this movie is going to make Scrooge McDuck buckets of gold, but will it make $1 Billion buckets of gold that Launchpad has to deliver on a private jet to Scrooge McDuck. The first movie had the greatest buzz in the history of the world and ended up pulling in just over $773 Million worldwide. For a few minor league comic book characters, that’s damn impressive.

Now that Guardians is established, it should blow past that original take. It seems like the “good, not great” reviews will hinder it short of that magical billion-dollar mark, but make no mistake – at the very worst, this will be the #2 movie of the summer.

Ceiling: $990 Million Worldwide

Floor: $810 Million Worldwide

Tommy Tracy: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to make bank. It’s the first MCU film of the year, a proven franchise and people are excited after the first film was a surprise hit. Plus, it has zero competition until Alien: Covenant two weeks later (sorry, King Arthur).

The Ceiling: $2 Billion Worldwide

The Floor: $800 Million Worldwide

Matt Kelly: This movie has the potential to be full of scene stealers. The smart money is on either Tango (Sylvester Stallone) or Cash (Kurt Russell), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Pom Klementieff, aka Mantis, will get a surprising amount of attention. We have seen pretty much nothing from her in the trailers, but it looks like she has a Draxian misunderstanding of social politeness and that is usually pretty funny.

Daniel Cohen: I don’t care how many damn characters are in this movie. By law, I have to go with Sylvester Stallone. Yeah, he hasn’t been in any of the trailers or ads, but I don’t care. Stallone. Stallone. Stallone. Even if he just grunts in one frame, it’s Stallone.

Tommy Tracy: With proven chemistry between Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and, especially Drax, it’s impossible to say anyone will steal a scene like these five. However, I’m really hoping Chris Sullivan’s Taserface is as ridiculous as he looks.

Matt Kelly: It’s high, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t quite a five. There is no way that it can live up to Volume 1, and that is fine. I am just a little nervous that it will play it a little safer than you would hope. The only truly successful Marvel sequel has been Winter Soldier, and that took a lot of risks. I am getting the feeling that Volume 2 will be more Ultrony. I hope I’m wrong.

That is a lot of work to justify taking half a star off, but it seems necessary. 4.5 stars of excitement. Giant Kurt Russell floating head in space. What more could you want?

Anticipation Level: 4.5 Bitter DC Fans out of 5

Daniel Cohen: After being completely burned by Doctor Strange, I feel like a moron putting in money to a carnival game I know is rigged. Don’t piss me off, Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just give me a good movie. That’s all I want. I’m not shooting for the moon here. I’m really not. As long as it’s in the same ball park as the first movie, I’ll be fine.

Anticipation Level: 4 Bitter DC Fans out of 5

Tommy Tracy: The Guardians 2 trailer was awesome, but it pales in comparison to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stephen King’s It and the surprisingly fun looking Thor: Ragnarok. But as a lifelong comic fan and someone who loves the MCU, even when it isn’t perfect, I’ll be there day one.

Anticipation Level: 4.5 Bitter DC Fans out of 5


Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites