Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most hotly anticipated forthcoming movies and reaction to the trailers released as part of its promotional campaign has been extremely positive. The original GOTG was a huge hit for Marvel Studios, showcasing the franchise’s more comedic shades and making household names out of the titular Guardians. It even somehow managed to make audiences empathize with a walking tree.

In the marketing campaign for the sequel, it has been heavily suggested that new figures will be joining the Guardians’ ranks, with Yondu, Nebula and newcomer Mantis all featuring prominently alongside the other five heroes. This has led to suggestions that Nebula will be leaving her villainous ways behind after the events of the first GOTG and that after previously being neither wholly good or bad, Yondu will be playing nice this time around.

More weight can now be added to this theory as on the latest cover of Empire Magazine, all eight characters are beautifully featured standing side by side and sporting their best superhero poses. The cover features (from left to right) Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) Yondu (Michael Rooker), Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff).

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Empire cover Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Empire Cover Features Extended Team

The image furthers the idea that Vol. 2 will see the three new additions on world-saving duty and specifically the presence of Baby Groot riding on Yondu’s shoulder suggests an allegiance between the Guardians and the leader of the Ravagers. Interestingly, the cover also shows all four male characters brandishing their respective weapons. Freud would surely have something to say about that.

The expansion of the Guardians team is sure to add a new dynamic to the group’s chemistry and the addition of Nebula in particular will likely cause waves within the group – given her previous job as one of Thanos’ feared warriors. Karen Gillan herself has promised plenty of exploration into the relationship between Nebula and Gamora in Vol. 2 and her partnership with the Guardians will surely allow audiences to see a whole new side to the angry blue Luphomoid.

However, aside from the addition of three new characters to the main group, the sequel will also introduce Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet, Sylvester Stallone as a Nova Corps member and a host of other new faces such as Taserface and and Ayesha. As such, some might argue that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is giving itself too many new characters to establish and introduce within the space of a single movie, bearing in mind it also needs to continue developing the figures from the first film. But Marvel has balanced out large ensembles before, so this is arguably their wheelhouse.

Source: Empire

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