Before the summer of 2014, a big budget space adventure starring a giant tree, a talking raccoon, and that guy from Parks & Recreation seemed destined to be Marvel’s first flop since they kicked off their cinematic universe. Surprising everyone, Guardians of the Galaxy was a massive hit at home and abroad. It proved to be a relatively standalone feature with its own unique voice could exist in the MCU, and James Gunn assured his future with Marvel Studios. Without it, Suicide Squad and Deadpool may have never happened, and Marvel might’ve been a lot more hesitant about Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.
Now, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is just months away, and anticipation couldn’t be higher for what looks to be a near-perfect film. While the film could still crash and burn, the name recognition of both the franchise and Marvel will likely see it top the financial success of its predecessor. We won’t know the full story of the film or how it works until it arrives in May, but we’ve still learned a lot about the movie. As we inch closer to the premier of the film, here’s Everything We Know About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 So Far.
22 It’s All About Family
Despite all the fun space battles and pithy dialogue, what really set Guardians of the Galaxy apart from other blockbusters was its focus on character. Almost every member of the cast was playing some version of a loner, even companions like Rocket and Groot. By seeing their individual struggles as they slowly worked towards becoming a team of friends, we were able to watch the characters grow and turn into the Guardians. The sequel will up the ante considerably, by putting the theme of ‘family’ front and center.
Basing an action film around the concept of family is nothing new for Groot voice actor Vin Diesel. It’s the driving force behind the Fast & Furious franchise, and Diesel and James Gunn have made it clear that it will be the focus of Guardians 2. Besides the new family that is the Guardians, the movie will explore Peter Quill’s parentage, something that helped actor Chris Pratt work through the death of his father a few years back.
The movie will also shine a spotlight on the unusual childhood of sisters Gamora and Nebula. Teased slightly in the first film, the sequel will dive into what it was like for these two assassins to grow up under the thumb of Thanos, who abducted them as children and experiment on them. Sisterhood is a subject rarely explored in blockbuster films, so observing it through the lens of two deadly anti-hero aliens should prove entertaining and poignant in equal measure.
21 Kurt Russell’s Huge Ego
We’ve known for some time that Kurt Russell would be joining the Guardians sequel, and when he did, speculation immediately pegged him as playing Peter Quill’s father. As it turns out, Pratt actually suggested Russell for the part, and Gunn couldn’t help but agree. Everyone was surprised, however, when it was revealed that not only would Russell be Star-Lord’s celestial father, but would be playing Ego the Living Planet.
Gunn has gone on record saying that the idea of including Ego trumped the whole talking racoon thing from the first movie. Still, it was important to both the director and actor that the character remain grounded. While he’s actually a giant planet with a face in the comics, we know Russell will be portraying him as more humanoid. The latest trailer gave us our first official look at Ego, so we know he won’t be that peculiar looking. We do still hope his planetary form is on display at some point.
20 Marvel and Fox Are Playing Nice
Once Gunn got Russell on board for Guardians 2, he got to work crafting the story. In doing so, he set up a lot of emotional beats involving the character and Peter Quill, making Ego an essential part of the script. At some point, however, Gunn ran into one little snag: Marvel doesn’t actually own the rights to Ego.
It turns out that the deal Marvel made with Fox all those years ago that gave the company the rights to the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four, also granted them the film rights to Ego. Luckily, the two were on amicable enough terms that they were able to strike up a deal. Gunn and Marvel could use Ego in their film (as Fox likely had no plans to ever utilize the character), if Marvel would let Fox tweak the mutant powers of Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool.
What’s interesting isn’t just the cooperation, but that Fox needs approval from Marvel to change elements of a character. While we’ll likely never know the full details, it’s good news for Marvel Comics fans that their studio and Fox can get along when the need arises.
19 Nebula’s Switched Sides
After Nebula’s departure in the first movie, many wondered if we’d be seeing her again. As it turns out, she’s going to be quite a presence in the new film. Not only will her relationship with Gamora be explored more, but the effect of being raised by Thanos will factor heavily into the film. Actor Karen Gillan has stated that the film will give us a lot more time with Nebula, and that we’ll start to understand her more. Gunn even added that the new focus on the assassin may just make us feel sympathetic towards the character.
Fans of Nebula’s comic book counterpart are eagerly awaiting her expanded screentime, especially as she’ll be joining the Guardians of the Galaxy in their efforts. From there, she may even get her own solo movie, at least if Gunn has anything to say about it. Though the movie will be adding a few new characters, its decisions to focus on the cast of the first film will ensure we get to know some of the secondary characters like Nebula a lot better.
18 Mantis Joins The Team
Along with Ego the Living Planet, one of Gunn’s other big additions to the cast of the new Guardians film will be Mantis. Though her green skin has been changed (so as not to have her confused with Gamora or Drax), she’ll retain her signature antennae and psychic powers. In the comics, she’s been a long-serving member of the Guardians, so many fans were over the moon when they learned she’d be joining the film and would be portrayed by Pom Klementieff.
Despite her powers of precognition and telepathy, the Mantis of the film will be relatively socially inexperienced. Still, she’ll be joining the fight with the Guardians as teased by some early concept art. She may also provide us with a link to Thor: Ragnarok, but only time will tell. For now, she’s already joined the movie’s line of Funko toys, so she looks to be a key part of the film.
17 More Female Focus—and Toys
“As a person I am a man; as a writer, I need to be everyone. Only in this way will our art and our entertainment adequately express life and inspire all of us.” With those words, James Gunn masterfully captured the need for films to be far more representative than they are now. As part of a lengthy Facebook post, Gunn dove into how Guardians 2 would focus more on its female characters.
Without even seeing the film, that looks to be true. Not only will Gamora and Nebula be returning and given bigger arcs and a spotlight shone on their sisterhood, but Mantis will provide the film with yet another female perspective. Even better, Gunn has personally assured fans that we’ll be seeing lots of Nebula toys in the years to come, some of which have already been unveiled. This is of course good news for any fans bothered by the usual lack of figures based on the female characters of blockbuster films.
16 The Secret Origin of Rocket Raccoon
In essence, the backstories of all of the main characters of the first film are pretty unknown. While Quill is given the most spotlight and a few lines are established regarding every other Guardian (save Groot), there are still plenty of gaps in our heroes’ history that could be filled in during the sequel. We know we’ll learn a lot more about Peter, Gamora, and Nebula, but our set visit taught us that Rocket’s past will be crucial as well.
We know that Rocket was experimented on, granting him speech, intelligence, and a nasty disposition. We also saw in the first film that it’s a sore subject for him. According to Gunn, the exploration of Rocket’s history will not only be pivotal to the story, but will affect his relationship with the other Guardians. Even in the comics, Rocket plays by his own set of rules and is arguably more bloodthirsty than either Drax and Gamora. Could his tragic past lead to a confrontation with his new family?
15 All Hail Ayesha
The focus on female characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 won’t just pertain to its heroes. One of the villains the team will face in the film will be the gold-skinned Ayesha. According to Gunn, she’s not to be trifled with: “Ayesha is the golden High Priestess of a genetically-perfect people called the Sovereign. She’s not a woman to be screwed with – she, and her entire world, are extraordinarily deadly.”
Despite a change in hair, the image above from one of the trailers confirms she'll appear similar to how she does in the comics. It's also clear that a scene early in the film will involve her, and the latest trailer shows that she'll be causing trouble for our heroes. In the comics, she’s the female counterpart of Adam Warlock, a character we’ve long been hoping to see in the MCU. While the field is already crowded, Ayesha could help set up Warlock for the third Guardians film which is bound to appear in Marvel’s Phase 4.
14 Adam Warlock Won't Appear—Or Will He?
Pardon the cryptic heading, but this is a rumor full or all sorts of twists and turns. What elevates it over other fan theories is how much Gunn has weighed in on the subject. Far from clarifying things, he's actually been responsible for the persistence of the rumor and its confusing nature. As we've said, Warlock has long been considered a lock for a cosmic Marvel film given his huge role in the comics related to the Guardians and the Infinity Stones. His infamous cocoon was even spotted in the Collector's possession in the first film. When we learned recently that Gunn had cut a major character from the script of the new movie, it only added to our suspicions that Adam Warlock is on the verge of joining the MCU.
Things really heated up when Marvel unveiled their new line of toys, complete with movie versions of the Guardians. Right in the middle of the lineup was Adam Warlock. A later batch also featured Darkhawk, and rumors reignited that Warlock (along with Darkhawk) would be in the new Guardians. Gunn then publicly denied these claims, before denying his denial later that day. At this point, we still think more than a cameo from Warlock is out of the question, but he certainly seems as if he's on the verge of emerging in the cosmic fight against Thanos.
13 Yondu the Guardian
Nebula won’t be the only roguish character from the first film to join the Guardians in May. Star-Lord’s former mentor and the head of the Ravagers, Yondu, will be back and joining the team in their mission of protecting the galaxy. Given his proclivities, there’s a good chance he’ll also be working his own agenda. Either way, he’s sure to add plenty of humor and tension to the film. While we don’t know much about his role on the team, we do know that his look got an upgrade.
In the comics, Yondu is not only known for his impressive archery skills, but his massive, red head-fin. The first film turned this into a small mohawk, but some images shared by actor Michael Rooker and Marvel have shown that Yondu will be rocking a look much closer to his comic book counterpart. Now, it’s only a matter of time before more of the original Guardians from the comics appear in the MCU.
12 The Ravagers Will Have More Screentime
Wherever Yondu goes, the Ravagers are sure to follow. While they mostly served as background comic relief in the first film, we know they’ll have a lot bigger role in the new movie. Not only are they seen getting in trouble in the trailer, but they’ve got some new members among their ranks. Tommy Flanagan from Sons of Anarchy will be playing Tullk, a bounty hunter from the comics who will be joining the Ravagers. While we haven’t seen what he’ll look like yet, we’ve had a number of good looks at the rest of the crew thanks to a group photo and a in-costume appearance at Comic-Con last year.
It won’t be all laughs, however, as second-in-command Kraglin is said to me more than a bit upset about Yondu’s relationship with the Guardians. Whether Kraglin, new character Brahl, and the other Ravagers will end up rebelling against their leader, we’ll just have to wait and see. Either way, tension will be high.
11 Groot’s Back—In Baby Form!
It wouldn’t be a Guardians movie without Groot, but the version we’ll meet in the sequel will be a good bit different from the one in the first film. Aside from being a baby, voice actor Vin Diesel has teased how naive and goofy this version of the character will be in the movie. We already saw in the trailer how that could cause trouble for the Guardians, so it’ll be interesting to see how Groot factors into the plot and missions.
Both James Gunn and Marvel producer Kevin Feige have stated that this version of Groot won’t retain the memories of his former self, so his interactions with Rocket could prove to be especially poignant. Either way, we know the decision was an organic one, and not simply a ploy to sell more adorable merchandise. As for the character’s longevity? Well, Gunn and Diesel have both teased plans for a Groot solo film, and we’ve got a pretty good idea of how such a movie could work.
10 Drax Has a Larger Role—and May Steal the Show
One of the most surprising performances in the first Guardians film came from Dave Bautista. No one argued that the former wrestler lacked the physique to play Drax, but many wondered if he could actually act. Not only did he paint a sympathetic portrait of the anti-hero, but he stole almost every scene he was in with his dry humor. Though not part of the character’s comic book persona, the idea of Drax not being able to understand metaphors and humor has become synonymous with him now. Like every character, Drax will have a much bigger role in the new film, and he may once again steal the movie.
James Gunn has gone on record not once, but twice to let audiences know that everyone who’s seen the film so far thinks Bautista is absolutely hilarious as Drax. Bradley Cooper even compared Bautista to Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, as the actor reportedly nails every comedic line and moment he’s given. Perhaps “the Destroyer” isn’t as destructive of a title as we imagined, and it’s jokes he’s been killing all these years.
9 The Soundtrack Will Be More Diverse
One of the absolute best things about the original movie was how well the soundtrack was integrated into the film. Not only did the various pop songs from Quill’s Awesome Mix weave in and out of the story, shifting from diegetic to nondiegetic, but the album became a huge hit in its own right. Gillan has already teased how fun the new soundtrack will be, and Gunn has stated it will be much more diverse than the first one.
While the first film’s soundtrack was a hoot thanks to its litany of hit tracks, Gunn says the new one will mix in more obscure songs. That’s probably for the best, as simply repeating the formula of the original movie could become distracting. Regardless, the music helped set the tone for the film and provided it with part of the unique charm that made Guardians of the Galaxy such a hit. Some lucky fans have already had the chance to hear the scoring of the film, but we have full faith that the poppier songs Gunn chooses will be just perfect. All in all, music will play a much bigger role in the film than it did in the first movie.
8 Howard the Duck May Return
“As long as there’s a James Gunn directing the film, there’s a possibility of a Howard the Duck.” It’s hard to argue with Bautista there. When asked if Howard the Duck could make another cameo in the new film, the Drax actor laid out the above wisdom and he’s absolutely right. After the massive flop that was the Howard the Duck movie of the ‘80s, it’s hard to imagine Marvel ever revisiting a live-action version of the character. James Gunn did just that, however, with one of the greatest end credits scene in any Marvel movie.
And it’s not that surprising. The Guardians world is already fairly zany, and Marvel seem keen to let Gunn do just about anything he wants in his movies. On top of that, Howard has become quite the comeback story in the comics. He’s had a number of headlining books, and even recently merged with Deadpool. If there was ever a time for Howard to return to film, it’s now.
7 Stallone and Stone and The Elders
Despite Gunn’s early talk about minimizing the addition of new characters to the Guardians sequel, we’ve already seen plenty of additions. Aside from Mantis, Ayesha, Ego, and all the new Ravagers, Sylvester Stallone also has a small but crucial role in the film. On top of that, Sharon Stone teased that she’d have a small part in an upcoming Marvel film, and many are speculating it could be Guardians 2. For now, we don’t know anything about who they could be playing, but there have certainly been rumors.
A few months back, word broke that Stone, Stallone, and Ayesha could all be joining the Collector as Elders of the Universe. Gunn quickly shot down the idea, but it’s still possible. While Ayesha isn’t an Elder in the comics, Stone’s and Stallone’s characters could still be. Not only is the Collector already around in the MCU, but his brother the Grandmaster is set to appear in Thor: Ragnarok played by Jeff Goldblum. We likely won’t know who Stone or Stallone are playing until the film comes out, but building up more ancient, cosmic entities in the MCU could be a smart move ahead of Infinity War.
6 Steven Tyler and Alan Tudyk Want Cameos
As if there weren’t already enough tertiary characters in the new movie, a couple of other stars have expressed interest in joining Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or one of its sequels. After a breakout turn as droid K-2SO in Rogue One, Alan Tudyk said he wanted to join the Guardians franchise as an alien. Given that his Firefly costar Nathan Fillion had a similar turn in the first movie, Tudyk’s dream will likely become a reality. But what about Steven Tyler?
A little while back, the frontman of Aerosmith expressed his interest in joining the new movie in some capacity. Turns out, James Gunn heard him loud and clear and responded to Tyler via Facebook. Gunn was naturally game, reminding fans that he directed Steven’s daughter Liv in his film Super. Given that both parties are interested, expect to see Tyler show up either in this summer’s film or its sequel. Meanwhile, we know at least one musician will join the cast, as Rob Zombie has been confirmed to have a cameo.
5 Stan Lee Will, Of Course, Appear
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a cameo by Stan Lee. Not only has Lee appeared in many of Fox’s X-Men films, but he has dozens of look-alikes across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s shown up in every film featuring characters he helped create, which includes most of Marvel’s core pantheon. It’s hardly surprising, then, that not only will he be showing up in a number of upcoming Marvel movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of them.
In the first film, he played a man flirting while the Guardians were rounded up on Xandar. There was also an old man in one of the Collector’s cases that looked strikingly similar to Lee. There’s no word yet on whether he’ll be reprising his role from the first film, but he generally has a new part for each movie. We do know that not only did Gunn shoot Lee’s cameo, but that he filmed a number of his other cameos across the MCU and had nothing but nice things to say about the writer.
4 Attack of the Abilisk
One of the first things we saw regarding the new Guardians film was concept art of the crew fighting a giant space monster. Following the reveal, Gunn explained that the creature was called an Abilisk. Described as a multidimensional being, the Guardians are tasked with hunting it down and stopping its reign of terror. During the first teaser for the new film, we saw plenty of shots of the team fighting the many-tentacled beast, and that continued in the first trailer.
Given how much we already know about the fight, it’s likely the earliest scene of the movie. That means it won’t spoil anything, and will instead give us a fun action set-piece to establish the status quo of the movie and see how the Guardians work together following the events of the first film. Of course, the talk of multiple dimensions immediately brings to mind last year’s Doctor Strange, so perhaps there’s more to the Abilisk than we think.
3 No Infinity Stone, No Thanos This Time
All three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far have been connected by one common thread: the Infinity Stones. We’ve seen them pop up across the galaxy in many Marvel movies, and they’ve slowly been sought after by the villainous Thanos. As isolated as the first Guardians movie was from the rest of the MCU, it actually provided us with our lengthiest explanation of the Stones and was where we spent the most time with Thanos. In an effort not to repeat the past, Gunn has stated flatly that the Infinity Stones won’t appear in the new movie.
This, of course, is a good thing. A lot of the runtime of the first film was taken up with the pursuit and explanation of the Power Stone, so it’d be fairly dull for the second movie to do the same. There’s also only one Stone left to uncover, the Soul Stone, and it’s likely it won’t show up until Ragnarok or even Infinity War. Marvel likely wants to shine quite a spotlight on the unveiling of the final Stone, and also wants the new Guardians movie to have room to breathe. That said, the Power Stone will hang like a shadow over the film, as Peter's time holding it will change him somewhat.
2 A Galaxy Of Their Own
Following the reveal that the Infinity Stones wouldn’t play a role in the new Guardians movie, Gunn tweeted that his new film would be relatively unconnected from the existing MCU. Though the entire plot of the first film revolved around Thanos’ quest for the Stones and even gave us a primer on what they were, Gunn says he’s always been free to craft his own world. While that’s clearly not exactly true, we know that Gunn has been given free reign to tell the story he wants. Further, both Gunn and Feige have made it clear over the years that this new Guardians film would exist more in its own space.
While the interconnected nature of the MCU is part of its appeal, it’s still nice to enjoy a relatively standalone story. With everything building towards Infinity War, it’ll be nice to take some time and just enjoy the fun of the Guardians and explore their characters and motives more. There will be plenty of time for team-ups next year, after all.
1 Our Heroes Will Return for Infinity War
We hardly needed Vin Diesel affirming that the Guardians would be appearing in Infinity War in 2018 to know it was going to happen. As unconnected as their adventures may be, it’s hard to imagine a movie involving space, the Infinity Stones, and Thanos not featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, it’s always reassuring when we learn characters like Gamora will indeed be returning.
The question instead has been who outside of the main crew will be showing up to face Thanos. Turns out, a good many of them. Karen Gillan recently started filming for the movie, so we know Nebula’s expanded role in the MCU will continue. New character Mantis has also been confirmed for the movie, so it’s safe to say she survives the events of the new film and remains with the Guardians. While the news of various characters appearing in the massive team-up does spoil certain parts of the upcoming movie, it’s still fun to know that so many characters will be interacting for the first time. Whether the lineup will ultimately be too crowded, only time will tell.
Let us know in the comments what you’re most excited for and check back regularly as we’ll be updating this thread with all the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 news there is as it emerges.