Warning: SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ahead
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 reunites the rag-tag family of Guardians from the first movie: Star Lord a.k.a. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). However, guarding the galaxy is a tall order, especially given the ever-growing threat of powerful beings like Thanos (Josh Brolin). Over the course of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, the Guardians' team roster changes, and by the end of the movie, the lineup is very different to how it started out.
Here's a recap of who the Guardians of the Galaxy are by the end of the second movie and (presumably) what the line-up will look like in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The Original Line-up
Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket are all still protecting the galaxy, and the movie opens with the adorable baby Groot entirely oblivious as the rest of the crew fight another alien monster. Rocket can understand Groot perfectly, and Groot…well, he’s trying to understand, at least. As with the first Guardians movie, the bulk of the humor comes from Rocket and Groot. Rocket is still sarcastic and jaded, and still doesn’t like being called a raccoon. Groot might be a baby, but he’s growing up fast.
Drax talks a little more about his family during the course of the movie, and it’s good to hear hints of an intriguing backstory to the character that could be explored in subsequent movies. His friendship with Mantis is typically Drax: blunt, honest, and somehow filled with affection despite everything his says. He remains loyal, dedicated and unfalteringly honest to Peter, and finally, he seems happy.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 belongs to Peter Quill, though, and the relationships he has with those closest to him. Firstly, there’s the knowledge that his father, Ego, is a celestial being capable of great things. Then there’s the complex dynamic he shares with Yondu, and the movie delves deeper into that, finally explaining the reasons behind Youndu’s treatment of Star Lord.
Finally, there’s the budding romance between Star Lord and Gamora. Will they, or won’t they? Well, Drax thinks they shouldn’t, while Peter thinks they should, and Gamora... Well, Gamora is so scarred by her childhood that she’s scared to open up about her feelings. The pair share a few sweet scenes, but Guardians avoids giving them a full-on romantic moment that some fans might want to see. There’s always the third movie, though.
Kraglin (Sean Gunn) has been a loyal first mate to Yondu, but he never seemed to quite get the rewards he was seeking. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we once again see him by Yondu’s side, but this time he’s reached the limit of his patience, and he thinks he can do things better on his own.
He’s wrong, of course; Yondu might not be the most likable of characters, but he’s good at being a fearsome leader, just like Kraglin is good at being a first mate. Kraglin realizes all of this just in time, and the pair manage to reconcile their differences... right before Yondu dies.
Of course, the loss hits Kraglin hard, and there’s the potential for him to drift away without a friend in the galaxy, but Star Lord doesn’t let that happen. In fact, he decides that Kraglin is the only worthy recipient of Yondu’s Yaka Arrow. It might take some practice, but Kraglin will no doubt master its power in order to honor Yondu’s legacy. At the end of the movie, Kraglin headed off with the Guardians, transferring his loyalty to Star Lord, as Yondu would have wanted. Hopefully that means more of Kraglin; most likely only a small role in Avengers: Infinity War, but we should definitely see more of him in Guardians 3.
Portrayed by Pom Klementieff, Mantis is one of the most interesting new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. She has been living with Ego since she was a larva, and as such she has no real clue how to interact with other people. There’s no real sense of humor, and a whole lot of naivety, but even so, Mantis has strong morals that influence the choices she makes.
For example; she inherently knows that Ego is a bad person, and that the way he treats the children he spawns isn’t right. She also knows that she likes the Guardians, and feels an affinity towards them. It actually doesn’t take her too long to realize that she wants to ally herself with them, perhaps due to her ability to read emotion in others.
Once firmly on the Guardians side, there’s no going back for Mantis. She might be delicate, and she might be insecure, but Mantis displays surprising strength and resilience, using her power to put Ego to sleep for long enough that Groot might make it to his core and plant the bomb. Her friendship with Drax was a real highlight of the movie, so hopefully there will be more of that going forward.
The relationship between Nebula (Karen Gillan) and her sister, Gamora, isn’t exactly a warm one, and it’s easy to see why. Thanos used to pit the two against one another, and every time Nebula lost, he would replace another part of her with a piece of machinery, to try and make her a better fighter. This lead to Nebula resenting Gamora for never letting her win, but at the same time, Gamora needed to save herself.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, we finally get to see a softer, more empathetic and caring side to Nebula, when she not only saves her sister, but also fights against Ego and the Sovereigns with the rest of the Guardians. Using her cybernetic arm she provides power to the lasers that ultimately destroy the fleet of Sovereigns. This caused her great pain, and yet she was willing to suffer that in order to save the Guardians.
Despite Gamora’s attempts to convince Nebula to join the team, she left during Yondu’s funeral, in order that she might track down Thanos and kill him. However, the pair did hug before she left - a hint that we could see Nebula fighting alongside her sister in the future, perhaps?