Fire up the Milano, strap on your spacesuit, and prepare to kick some alien butt, because the galaxy’s unlikeliest heroes are back for more intergalactic action. As James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens to rave reviews and a box office killing, let’s rewind "Awesome Mixtape Vol 2" and retrace our steps on the blockbuster sequel.
With new introductions like Kurt Russell and Pom Klementieff rubbing shoulders with the cast of 2014’s original film, it certainly seems that bigger is better. As well as familiar territory with Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana as Star-Lord and Gamora, Vol. 2 also brought back Karen Gillan and Michael Rooker at their antagonistic best.
Introducing a whole new team of “old” Guardians, it appears that the sequel is only just starting the expansion of the popular Marvel comics. As we look ahead to the team’s involvement in Avengers: Infinity War and the newly announced Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it seems that we are preparing kick the action into hyperspace. Whether you are battling with your “Ego,” want to grow your own baby Groot, or fancy taking Rocket home as a pet, here are Guardians Of The Galaxy 2's Performances, Ranked Worst To Best.
15 Nathan Fillion As Simon Williams
One role that had so much potential and yet didn’t even make it into the film was Wonder Man, played by Nathan Fillion. The Firefly and Castle actor is currently lying somewhere on a cutting room floor, meaning that his role in beyond Guardians Vol. 2 and in the rest of the MCU is up in the exosphere.
Although technically Fillion wouldn’t have appeared directly in the film, his part was a background Easter egg on several film posters. A post on Fillion’s Instagram showed him sporting the long hair of Arkon from Weirdworld, but he would actually have been playing actor Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man.
As a close friend of James Gunn, all the pieces were in place for Fillion's glorious arrival to the MCU, however, it was clearly not meant to be. Luckily, Gunn seems open to the option of Fillion actually taking a speaking role in the future of the MCU.
14 The Original Guardians
It was an early appearance for Sylvester Stallone and Michael Rosenbaum as Starhawk and Martinex T'Naga, however, some more "original" Guardians popped by for a triumphant swansong for Michael Rooker’s Yondu. Agreeing that it was tragic that such a mournful event had brought them back together, fans of the comic books might recognize some familiar faces from Marvel's back catalog.
We had Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, Michelle Yeoh as Aleta Ogord, as well as Miley Cyrus voicing Mainframe, and a CGI appearance of the worm-like Krugarr. It made up most of the original lineup from 1969 and was one of the most memorable post-credit scenes.
While Gunn was clearly careful not to overshadow Star-Lord’s adventures with the original Guardians, the cameos had us aching for more with no idea when we could see them again. Also, Miley Cyrus’ two-second line still manages to be the most annoying part of the film.
It is too hard to really rank the performances as anything more than “unknown space pirates” who some people might know. The good news is that the appearance of such A-list faces certainly gives us a hint at who could appear beyond the current iteration of the team.
13 Elizabeth Debicki As Ayesha
When we first met Elizabeth Debikci’s Ayesha, she seemed just like Vol. 2's own version of C-3PO from Star Wars. She was very proper, a little uptight, and well, covered in gold. However, pleasantries were soon put aside when the Guardians crossed the Sovereign species.
Sadly, Debicki’s part didn’t have the Midas Touch and it failed to wow. Admittedly, she did play the venom-spouting Oscar statue with ease, but in terms of villainy, the Sovereign just wasn’t that effective. Popping up every now and then with a fleet of autopiloted ships, we never felt that the Sovereign was any real threat.
The one redeeming feature was Ayesha's post-credit scene, which not only teased her return in a better capacity but the creation of Adam Warlock. We all know who is lurking inside that cocoon, so Ayesha may just have done herself a favor here!
12 Stan Lee's As A Watcher
More than just one of the best movie cameos of the MUC, Stan Lee’s part in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was actually the culmination of his work since appearing in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk in 1989.
We first a spacesuit-wearing Stan in the middle of the film, surrounded by the bald-headed beings that some may know as the Watchers. As the oldest species in the galaxy, the Watchers have always stood back and observed while cataloging events.
Still in space, Lee returns in the post-credits as the Watchers have grown tired with the old man’s ramblings. With typical comic timing, Lee turns to them and says: "Hey fellas, where are you going? You were supposed to be my lift home. I have so many stories to tell."
Given the fact that Vol. 2 confirmed a long-held theory that all of Lee’s cameos are connected, it makes the appearance more than just some FedEx delivery driver or a security guard. The MCU certainly has a big task on its hands to top Lee’s role in Guardians - just remember, the Watchers are always watching.
11 Sean Gunn As Kraglin
There is certainly some brotherly love on the set of Guardians, with James Gunn giving an expanded part to his brother Sean Gunn. Returning from 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the other Gunn's Kraglin was the sympathetic supporter of Yondu.
As the Ravager with a heart, Kraglin became more that just a nameless grunt or the hideous Taserface. The Yondu/Kraglin relationship was one of the most heart-warming elements of the sequel and it seemingly came from nowhere to give us an emotional finale.
While Kraglin may not be as memorable as the likes of Mantis or Starhawk, the part was well-acted and gave yet more comic relief-- and some dodgy arrow skills.
We do know that the Ravager with nine lives will be back in Infinity War and we can only assume the Guardians aren’t done with him too. Kraglin may be queuing himself up as the next Yondu, but hopefully, that will only be in a comedy role - anyone trying to replace Rooker’s blue-skinned marauder would be a fool.
10 Sylvester Stallone As Starhawk
Sylvester Stallone’s role in Vol. 2 was leaked weeks before our heroes even hit theaters. While we may all have known he would be playing Stakar Ogord, aka Starhawk, his limited role didn’t fail to disappoint.
The Yondu we met back in the first film seemed definitely unafraid of everyone, so seeing him cower in front of Stakar was an unexpected twist. On the snowy brothel planet, we saw Sly and Rooker butt heads with some explosive revelations about Yondu’s backstory.
It was pure unadulterated Stallone with all the muscles and grit you would expect. Sure, his jaw took up most of the screen, but even at 70 years old, the film showed you can teach an old dog new tricks in the actor's first superhero outing.
As previously mentioned, his post-credit scene was crucial to the future of the franchise, but those who follow the comics will know the importance of Starhawk as more than just another Ravager commander. Certainly one of the most intriguing introductions to the Guardians universe so far, Gunn has promised that Stallone’s role in the MCU is only just beginning.
9 Kurt Russell as Ego
How do you turn an alien planet into the father of Star-Lord? Simple: stick Kurt Russell in the role and then hide him for the final third of the film under waves of CGI or David Hasselhoff.
For those coming to Vol. 2 with great expectations that Russell will win an Oscar for his performance as Ego the Living Planet, you should probably give up now. Just like Stallone, Russell’s performance was thoroughly entertaining but nothing groundbreaking.
Kudos to Gunn for delivering a clever adaptation of Ego from the comic books, but Russell really just played himself. Alongside the likes of Snake Plissken from the Escape series or Stuntman Mike from Death Proof, he was undoubtedly the alpha male of the ensemble.
However, the casting of the veteran alongside Pratt seemed almost too good to be true, with the duo sharing the same cockiness and swagger that we have come to love from Star-Lord. The twist could’ve been spotted from outer space, so as the de facto villain of the piece, Ego was an average inclusion.
8 Karen Gillan As Nebula
Karen Gillan’s glitchy Nebula was welcomed back to scowl and spit venom just like in the first film. Somehow it feels like Nebula actually got less to do this time round, overshadowed by newcomers like Mantis and existing players like Yondu.
Also, we saw the Tin Woman grow a heart of sorts. Hearing how she was always bested by Gamora added some needed backstory but also mellowed the villainess. It is almost an injustice that Nebula seems to have reformed her ways, and with Yondu sent down the same path, it does feel a bit like Vol. 2 cheated us out of two villains.
There are positives though - Gillan has shed her Doctor Who days to become a capable bad guy and we had the superb Furious 7-inspired battle between the adoptive sisters. Even without the disco soundtrack, this fight was still one of the film’s best.
What gives us some hope, is Nebula’s dogged desire to exact revenge on Thanos. As Gillan’s blue-hued cyborg blasts off at the end of the film, she still has a wicked streak inside her that is sure to return for Infinity War and beyond.
7 Zoe Saldana As Gamora
Zoe Saldana is indeed a great actress, but her part in Vol. 2 was nothing more than middle-of-the-road. With her being the toughest cookie in the Galaxy, Gamora is one hard woman to love.
Gunn also seemed to have Bautista’s Drax and Saldana’s Gamora switch roles, meaning that she became even colder than the first film. While giving Drax more humor was one of the film’s master strokes, a grouchy Gamora just didn’t sit right.
Secondly, the whole Quill/Gamora = Ross/Rachel schtick has got a bit tired. The sexual tension was limper than one of Groot’s vines and audiences found themselves shouting, “Just get on with it.”
Gunn has promised a much bigger part for our green-skinned assassin in Vol. 3, but where can Gamora actually go? Some serious character adjustment needs to be made because at the moment it feels like we have seen all we need to see.
6 Vin Diesel/James Gunn As Baby Groot
How could anyone not love that adorable face? While some would love Groot to stay in his baby form forever, it looks like that won't be the case. However, had this been a list of best characters or comedy value, Baby Groot would’ve soared to the No. 1 spot. In terms of performance, remember that all Vin Diesel did was say three words.
Interestingly, it was James Gunn took on the dancing sprout for motion-capture in the opening sequence and it is arguably Groot bopping to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” that got the most laughs, so should Gunn get all the praise?
Yes Baby Groot was adorable and hilarious in equal measure, but almost all of that goes down to the way the other actors reacted to him, the mo-cap team, and some pretty impressive CGI.
While the post-credit scene teased an adolescent Groot for Infinity War or Vol. 3, it will still be much of the same.
5 Pom Klementieff As Mantis
In terms of new additions, no one did it better than Pom Klementieff as Mantis. As the right-hand man to Russell's Ego, it would have been so easy for her to play second fiddle. Luckily, even in a universe populated by so many formidable women, Klementieff’s buggy empath stole every one of her scenes.
The all-knowing, all-innocent Mantis easily slotted in among the already established members of the team. While her comic book counterpart may have been an expert in martial arts and sometimes depicted with green skin, Gunn reimagined her as a less deadly, but much more endearingg character.
Perhaps the most endearing quality was the naive innocence Klementieff projected. Frequently coming to the screen with an “awww” factor, she was a ray of sunshine against the cast of rogues and villains.
4 Chris Pratt As Star-Lord
Our disco-loving hunk was back, and Chris Pratt did what Chris Pratt does best - playing the suave lead. Vol. 2 delved deep into the backstory of Peter Quill and we finally solved the mystery from the first film of “Who’s ya daddy?”
Pratt’s comic timing was on point, he was a perfect lead, and he took the team to brave new worlds. His short tenure as demigod may be a minor gripe, and he was unfortunately outshone by some of the other cast members, but it still didn’t stop Gunn’s film being the Star-Lord show. Chris Pratt is firmly cementing himself as one of Hollywood's shining stars.
More than the first film, Vol. 2 was an emotional rollercoaster for Quill and he dragged the audience along with him. As said before, the pairing of Pratt and Russell was near-perfect and the two had some superb chemistry. Elsewhere, his interaction with the rest of the cast was spot on and we can’t wait to see him blast off in Infinity War and Phase 4
3 Bradley Cooper/Sean Gunn As Rocket Raccoon
Bradley Cooper's Rocket the raccoon (don't call him that though) returned and the adorable "trash panda" was back with a sassy new attitude. Butting heads with Pratt’s Star-Lord, Rocket became an outcast even inside the group. We aren’t quite sure what the chip on Rocket’s shoulder is, but it lended itself perfectly to his grouchier side in the sequel. Sarcastic and defiant, Rocket has the some of the biggest cojones of the Guardians, which he showcased with his blatant mocking of Taserface.
Rocket in Vol. 2 took on the older brother role for Groot and their relationship continued to blossom as a comedy double act. Cooper excelled as the voice feisty rodent, with Sean Gunn providing the mocap. All we need now is Rocket to find himself a certain female space otter and we can rest easy.
2 Dave Bautista As Drax The Destroyer
Flexing muscles bigger than Chris Pratt's, Dave Bautista is another wrestler-cum-actor who is fast chasing The Rock as hot property. Drax didn’t do quite as much destroying as his name would promise, but we will all remember his opening assault on the inter-dimensional alien-- and it went up from there.
Bautista’s part is almost unrecognizable from his dramatic entrance in the Kyln from the first film, but a softer Drax is by no means a bad thing. He offered advice to Quill, was crucial to every battle, and developed a charming friendship with Klementieff’s Mantis. Literally a jack of all trades, was there anything that Bautista didn’t do in this film? Arguably running away with all the best lines and the fun-factor, Drax has every reason to be laughing.
The faux-stupidity, his dry wit, and his infectious laugh all combined to make the perfect muscular lug head. We even got a reference to his (presumed) dead daughter, leading many to hope that the MCU could introduce Heather Douglas, aka Moondragon, in the third film. Now we have the Drax that we have always wanted, perhaps now is the time to give him back his family.
1 Michael Rooker As Yondu
Michael Rooker's performance as the slack-jawed Yondu is easily the highlight of Gunn’s film, sending an arrow our way and straight into our hearts. Yondu may have been a minor antagonist in the first film, but bringing him back in a larger capacity is a godsend to Vol. 2. We went into the film with certain expectations of the character, but few thought that we could see such a character reinvention.
Perhaps the best part is his father and son relationship with Star-Lord and complex history with the “original” Guardians. Containing one of the best redemptive story arcs in superhero films, Rooker deserves every ounce of praise coming his way. The snaggle-toothed Ravager got his emotional swansong, a popular backstory, and even a heart.
There is no denying that Yondu’s sacrifice was hard to watch, and among all the humor, his death gave the film a much-needed emotive finale. No longer just Merle from The Walking Dead, it is only a shame that we won’t get to see more of Rooker as Yondu. Just as the Ravagers paid tribute and will remember the mohawked menace, so will fans of the series.
Which was your favorite performance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Sound off in the comments below!