WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The galaxy may have only gotten a taste of Marvel's spacebound heroes in their debut film, but with the sequel, it's about to get the whole dish. The runaway success of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy took many by surprise, but an accomplished, action-packed, fearless and funny adventure is downright expected with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and almost everyone associated with the film isn't just aware of the raised stakes, but confident the movie will deliver.
Despite that guarantee of a galaxy-sprawling journey filled with laughs, lasers, and lavish alien races and landscapes, fans are still hungry for every trivial detail and bit of footage they can get their hands on. And thanks to Super Bowl LI, they've got almost a full minute. The extended preview may not appear to give too much away that fans haven't seen elsewhere, but we've broken it down to point out the details, characters, and clarified plot points (as well as a few theories of our own) that the footage has offered.
Needless to say, there may be SPOILERS as we do our best to explain or simply acknowledge these many moments of awesomeness.
11. Ayesha Unveiled
We've known for some time that the famed Marvel character 'Ayesha' would be appearing, and likely play an antagonist role in the Guardians' overall mission. In the comics, Ayesha was the female counterpart to the cosmic superstar Adam Warlock (a character who has been at the center of extreme controversy, based on a Guardians easter egg, and the Infinity Stone he was presumed to possess), but here we see her in her formal role: as the Golden High Priestess of the Sovereign.
The "golden" part of the name isn't meant to be metaphoric, since actress Elizabeth Debicki (Man From UNCLE) is quite literally painted gold - as are the rest of the priestesses surrounding her. The role of Ayesha has been kept intentionally quiet, with most assuming that the Sovereign will be hiring the Guardians to take care of the massive, tentacled beast known as the Abilisk, seen being assaulted in this and other trailers. But where her story goes from there remains a mystery.
10. The Sovereign
As mentioned above, the trailer highlights Ayesha as a central figure of key significance - but it also offers a few looks at the Sovereign themselves, the race of people whom she holds so much power over. A close look shows that the golden hue isn't reserved for Ayesha, nor the women selected to surround her in positions of power. Unfortunately, knowledge of the comics offers little explanation or insight, since the movie's version of Ayesha's origins - at least at this stage - seem to be something new for Gunn and company.
In the comics, Ayesha (also known as 'Her') was genetically perfect, and engineered to be so by a group known as the Enclave. This made her a reflection of Adam Warlock ('Him'), but this trailer illustrates the fact that the Sovereign in Guardians 2, the entire race is genetically perfect. That doesn't rule out the appearance of Adam Warlock as one such perfect creature, but without more evidence, it's Gunn's claim that this race is highly dangerous that has us viewing Ayesha with suspicion.
9. Gamora vs. Nebula
How much can we tell from a shot revealing only the eyes of actress Zoe Saldana in her Gamora makeup? Since speculation about superhero movies is our favorite hobby, we would venture a guess that it's Nebula who is hunting her. That's based largely on the later shot in which Gamora can be seen clutched by the throat, as Nebula draws back a dagger before showing what could be a moment of hesitation. Given her previous appearance in the films, that's not a stretch, either.
But it is somewhat at odds with the fact that Nebula will be switching to the side of our heroes after being cast out and abandoned in the first Guardians. Since we're unclear on just how influential Thanos is now that Nebula is a blend of flesh and cybernetics, we have to assume a switch towards villainy. The uniform she's wearing when attacking Gamora is a match for her final look as a 'member of the Guardians,' but given that she's now visible screaming behind the yoke of a fighter (similar to the one she commandeered to escape the battle over Xandar), and the footage in prior trailers of Gamora running from just that, fans at least have a satisfying fight to look forward to (if not a purely heroic role for Nebula).
8. The Final Battlefield?
After it appeared in various forms throughout the early marketing, this alien structure has clearly been established as a pivotal location, regardless of what its exact nature may be. Considering the technicolor style, and the ships flying around Star-Lord and Rocket after they exit one damaged ship into the abyss, it can be assumed that we're looking at the setting on one of, if not the final battles. Since Marvel hasn't officially explained who the villain will be, how they will exercise their will, and what their goal may be, all we have is speculation and conjecture.
We would wager, considering the total absence of Ego the Living Planet in his human form (Kurt Russell) so far, that this object/structure/location is linked with his character - most likely on the scale of a "living planet." The design of the structure, connected to unseen exteriors with tendril-like conduits would certainly fit James Gunn's psychedelic style of space life (think back to Knowhere in the first Guardians), but the idea of Ego being not just a significant person, but a significant cosmic location is too good to resist at least considering.
7. Mystery Ship
It's no surprise to see Peter Quill and Yondu piloting a spacecraft in tandem, but this is no spacecraft we've ever seen before. It's impossible to say with certainty just this ship hails from, or how the two men wind up on it, but the literal steering wheel may imply a rudimentary, or service vehicle style. What we can likely say is that the scene is set in the latter half of the film, after Yondu, Rocket, and Groot have escaped their Ravager imprisonment to return to their fellow Guardians.
Knowing the this second chapter will hinge on the reveal of Peter's biological father, it also makes sense for Yondu to play a more prominent role, thematically. Yondu made it clear in the first movie that he helped to raise Peter after picking him up from Earth on orders of his father (whom they soon forgot about). So if Peter is going to be diving into a world of trouble on account of his biological, but completely absent father, then pairing up with his present, but nevertheless unorthodox father figure is an opportunity for sentiment we're sure Yondu is already dreading.
6. We're Gonna Need a Bigger Gun
For anyone concerned that Gamora fleeing a speeding spacecraft meant she was in danger, that same rocky, fiery surface will also be home to one of the most oversized, ridiculous movie weapons we've ever seen - and it's glorious. Although gigantic ballistics tends to be Rocket Raccoon's specialty, it actually can't be overstated just how impossibly large this weapon must be. How Gamora is holding it off the ground, let alone holding it steady is unfathomable.
Who knows, perhaps her new battle with Nebula has convinced her that swords and daggers just aren't worth getting close enough to use? If the footage shows what it appears to - Nebula chasing, and attempting to kill Gamora in a ship, then on foot - then this may be the weapon that actually bring's Nebula's ship out of the sky. The ensuing battle may not go any better, judging by the hand closed around Gamora's throat later in the trailer, but Nebula's loyalties are most definitely a question going forward.
5. Rocket Bags Some Ravagers
The trailer continues to ramp up the violence inflicted upon the Ravagers, the band of spacebound mercenaries who raised Peter Quill into one of their most accomplished members (we can only presume, given his success outwitting them). Aside from the raining bodies descending on either side of Yondu and Rocket - now obviously killed by the latter, as his psychically-controlled metal 'arrow' can be seen flying through the background - there's a bit more context surrounding the memorable image of a band of Ravagers being blown skyward in a burst of blue light.
In this look at the sequence, Rocket can be seen triggering the explosives with a remote control, making sure to get the most bang for his buck (and apparently, a show for his efforts, too). It may seem cruel to have Rocket perched on a tree overlooking the carnage, but then... they're bad guys. And judging by the rest of the trailer, Rocket and the rest of the heroes are going to need to have fun wherever they can get it.
Long before James Gunn actually wrote Mantis into the sequel, we were explaining why the telepath would make an invaluable member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. So we were thrilled, not surprised when she was included in a batch of concept art for Vol. 2, showing the most significant change to her character from the comics to be her skin tone - another green member of the team makes less sense on film than paper. The role will be brought to life by actress Pom Klementieff, who is already confirmed to appear in Marvel's Infinity War storyline.
It won't just be her martial arts skills that make her an asset to the team, nor her sunny disposition when discussing the benefits of a super cute Baby Groot in their ranks. For starters, she'll be alien to socializing with other people, which means Drax will finally have someone to point to as the most oblivious or awkward Guardian and spare himself the title. But it's Mantis's own issues with her father that will likely play into this version, putting her alongside Star-Lord, Gamora, and Nebula.
3. New Ravager Leadership
On the long list of strangest things to see punctuate a cosmic, James Gunn adventure, a gnarled, furry, metal-toothed alien bellowing in delight is downright commonplace. Still, it's an unknown character previously unseen. Yet the background and following shot help suggest that this could be a new power player among the Ravagers. 'Kraglin' actor and Rocket Raccoon mocap performer Sean Gunn previously teased some resentment among the Ravagers over Yondu's loyalty to Peter Quill - ultimately leading to their slaughter via Yondu's telepathic arrow.
Could it be that this is the face of the coup among the Ravagers? It's memorable enough to fit that bill, and if true, would mean he hopefully has a more memorable demise coming to him than an off-screen 'zip' of a killer projectile. It's still speculation, but we're sure it's likely to crack yet another door open into a corner of Marvel's cosmic universe. The more important question, though, is whether metallic, sharpened teeth are required for any Ravager commander, or it's just a happy coincidence.
2. Yondu, Rocket & Groot Captured
After the delighted wails of the unknown Ravager are released, the trailer flips to the above shot, in which the Ravagers offer a similar exclamation throughout their base. But focus your attention to the silhouettes among them, and you'll notice two that stand out immediately: Rocket Raccoon and Yondu seated in chairs before them, likely restrained. We say restrained, since the footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 highlighted their capture and escape - with a significant role played by Groot, the third, unseen member of the group.
It's this sequence that ended with the Ravagers endlessly entertained by the adorable Baby Groot (something they share with worldwide audiences), taking it upon themselves to craft him a custom Ravager uniform... and completely ignore his homicidal tendencies. It's among the Ravagers' last laughs as living criminals, so we're glad it's a big one. We're also desperately hoping the the cage suspended to the left of frame holds Groot prior to his costume fitting, since it's a Marvel branded collectible too perfect to pass up.
1. The Guardians Finally(?) Assemble
It wouldn't be a comic boo movie without a carefully-framed 'Hero Shot,' in which the principal players of the story get a chance to assembles in all their costumed, badass glory. The shot cements the fact that Yondu will be joining the group by the film's conclusion (having been a famous member of the original team in the comics), and singles Mantis out as a new, and presumably different kind of member (and no, we're not talking about the flying, flaming object that knocks her out of frame).
Also worthy of note: Rocket Raccoon finally lives up to his name, using a rocket pack to remain airborne, level with his teammates, and with his miniature accomplice back where he belongs. The presence of Nebula continues to be a bit of a puzzle, suggesting that the battle scenes with Gamora could be set prior to her team-up, but... there seems to be a pivotal piece of the story we've yet to see revealed. It may also be a clever bit of compositing for effect, given the wide variety of sightlines (and Nebula now standing a foot taller than Star-Lord. Not an unwelcome change in the slightest, but one most will question).
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017