Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened last weekend in the United States with a stellar $145 million. This is beyond impressive when you realize the original Guardians opened at $94 million. Having seen it I wanted to discuss it, but wasn’t sure I had an angle until I remembered an old article from Entertainment Weekly. Entitled “22 Movie Sequel Do’s and Don’ts” I wanted to take these 22 points and check them against the film to see how the film stacked up. Of course, there will be spoilers and I will provide a link at the end to EW’s original article. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. DO: ADD AN EXCITING NEW VILLAIN

To be fair, Guardians 1’s villain was a little run of the mill. Ronan the Accuser’s motivations were broad and evil, but for a debut film they worked well enough. Vol. 2 kicked it up with a more personal bad guy. While we initially assume that Ayesha and the Sovereign people are our primary antagonists we shift over once Ego arrives. Being Peter’s father it cuts harder to see everything Peter wanted turn out to be a lie. And it gets even worse once Ego reveals he was responsible for Peter’s mother getting cancer. It hurts and makes you root for our heroes even harder. (Outcome: Success)

2. DON’T: ADD IN TOO MANY VILLAINS

The film does have one primary antagonist and two secondary antagonists. Split between an A plot and B plot we have the previously mentioned Sovereign people and Ego, but in a B plot we have Taser Face and even Nebula has a moment. But in all honesty, it never feels convoluted or overstuffed. Luckily Taser Face and Nebula serve a purpose in their plots. And on the plus side they didn’t try to shoehorn Thanos into the film for an Infinity War set-up. (Outcome: Success)

3. DO: ELIMINATE THE LAME CHARACTERS

This is a tough one as many of the characters from the original film were fantastic. But the elimination of the Nova Corp characters Rhomann Dey and Irani Rael was helpful. There was no need to drag them back into the story. (Outcome: Success)

4. DON’T: OVERLOAD ON CONTINUITY

This is another tricky one as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for constantly dropping hints and easter eggs as to where the future of the series will go. I didn’t have a problem with these, but I’m also a comic book fan who loves catching all the hints and teases for the future. Guardians does have a lot to take in, but it’s not an overload on the level of Iron Man 2. (Outcome: Partial Success)

5. DO: CONSIDER CHANGING THE SCENERY

With any space opera style film you get the opportunity to explore different worlds. And while we do spend a good portion of time on run down space ships we also get to see rich and beautiful worlds for our characters to explore. (Outcome: Success)

6. DON’T: BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO RESURRECT DEAD CHARACTERS

Aside from a flashback in the beginning to show Peter’s mother none of the characters who died in the previous film appear. And while we can discuss how Baby Groot could  be considered a resurrected character he technically came back to life in the first film. (Outcome: Success)

7. DO: MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS MORE TROUBLED

Yep, Vol. 2 definitely hits this mark hard. Between Peter’s issues with his father and Yondu, the Gamora/Nebula conflict, and Rocket coming to terms with who he is character crisis is everywhere. (Outcome: Success)

8. DON’T: FORGET THAT VILLAINS ARE SUPPOSE TO BE VILLAINOUS

With the exception of Nebula none of the previous villains return. And we do still see the anger and resentment in Nebula. And while she and Gamora reconcile there’s still pain there. (Outcome: Success)

9. DO: IN GENERAL, IT PAYS TO TELL A SIMPLER STORY

This one is hard to deliberate. The story gets a little busier than the first film, but that’s because it’s building on the previous story. (Outcome: Success)

10. DON’T: BUT IF YOU’RE GOING BIGGER, MAKE SURE IT MEANS SOMETHING

Gunn went into this story with a vision. Taking the groundwork he set up from the first film he built upon it in an impressive way. (Outcome: Success)

11. DO: CONSIDER SWITCHING UP DIRECTORS

While almost every other Marvel franchise has seen a shift in the person at the helm (The Russo Brothers took over Captain America in a brilliant way) and have seen stagnation with returning directors (Iron Man 2 wasn’t as good as Iron Man and we can debate Age of Ultron’s merits). Luckily, Gunn has a love and respect for these characters and it shines through. I can not wait to see where he takes Vol. 3. (Outcome: Success)

12. DON’T: BUILD YOUR SEQUEL’S PLOT AROUND DENSE, IMPENETRABLE BUREAUCRACIES

The Sovereign people at times bog down the film when the story cuts back to them. And in fact it may be the one weaker aspect of the film (Outcome: Fail)

13. DO: REMEMBER THAT STUPID AND OVER-THE-TOP IS BETTER THAN STUPID AND DULL

Haha, it is great to see Vol. 2 going over the top. The space jumping scene may in fact be one of the goofiest things that has been put into a Marvel film. (Outcome: Success)

14. DON’T: MAKE A SEQUEL ABOUT HOW BORED YOUR CHARACTERS HAVE BECOME WITH THEIR SUCCESSFUL LIVES

Thankfully all of our characters are flying high on the new adventures the outcome of the first film paved the way for. The opening shows them relishing their rolls as protectors for hire. I think of a quote from Rocket Raccoon, “Great! We can jack up our prices if we’re two-time galaxy savers!” (Outcome: Success)

15. DO: KILL OFF A MAIN CHARACTER

Oh man, this is one hurts. While Yondu was a supporting character in both of these films it was Michael Rooker’s brilliant performance that made him super likable. His sacrifice to save Peter hits hard. We get to see Peter understand that family isn’t about biology. He had a father this whole time who cared and protected him all those years. Yondu’s funeral is heartbreaking and adds weight to Peter’s search for family. (Outcome: Success)

16. DON’T: KILL OFF EVERYBODY

Our main characters make it out with some emotional pain, but at least they make it out alive. (Outcome: Success)

17. DO: CONSIDER JUST NOT REFERENCING THE FIRST MOVIE

Comic book films can get bogged down in building off their success and make sequels inaccessible if you haven’t seen the previous films (i.e. The Dark Knight Rises). Hints are dropped to what happened in the first film, but never to the affect that it’s key to see it. (Outcome: Success)

18. DON’T: MAKE SEQUELS TO COMEDIES

While Guardians has a great sense of humor it’s not a straight comedy. The humor in Vol. 2 is just as on point with it’s jokes and has some moments that are gut busters, “I’m Mary Poppins y’all!” (Outcome: Success)

19. DO: BASICALLY EVERYTHING TOY STORY 2 AND 3 DO

As I mentioned earlier we see characters get real growth in the series. Peter, Gamora, Rocket, Nebula, and Yondu all get to show more emotions and get depth. There is never a time where they use the original film as something to lean on to illicit emotions from the audience. The villain is stronger and personal to our lead. (Outcome: Success)

20. DON’T: JUST GRAB AN ORIGINAL STORY AND PLUG IT INTO A FRANCHISE

With a movie series based off a comic book this is an easy trap to avoid. There are decades of comics that have the Guardians of the Galaxy running off on intergalactic adventures. And while the film is based off the 2008 re-launch of the series there’s still a lot to mine. Gunn and Marvel have a trove of material and it means Vol. 3 is ripe with potential (Outcome: Success)

21. DO: CONSIDER ADDING A CO-STAR WITH EQUAL (IF NOT GREATER) STAR POWER

Kurt Russell, need I say more? (Outcome: Success)

22. DON’T: JUST REPEAT YOURSELF

There is always some level of repetition when it comes to sequels. Sometimes it’s calling back a catchphrase from the first film or blatantly re-treading an entire plot. It would’ve been super easy to take brilliant moments like the dance off and done them again for a cheap callback. There are a few things that feel old hat (another huge fleet of ships in the finale), but a lot of new ground it covered and fresh beats are hit. (Outcome: Success)

From the looks of it Vol. 2 hits all of the do’s and avoids most of the don’ts.  Personally, I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It went for deeper emotions instead of bigger explosions. As usual though, what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as much, more than, or less than the first film? Are you going to give it a second viewing in theatres? I know I will. Of course, you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts. Yep, going to keep telling you that until I get to the triple digits for followers. Remember to check out the Entertainment Weekly link at the bottom. And thanks again for reading.

ew.com/gallery/22-movie-sequel-dos-and-donts/

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