5:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2': All the Essentials in One Place
The combination of a charming cast, retro soundtrack and the obvious appeal of a talking tree that knows just who he is made Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy a hit when it was released in summer 2014, leaving fans eager for more. But in this post-Star Wars: The Force Awakens world, the question might be, are audiences ready to embrace new space adventures that come without lightsabers?
THE MAIN DETAILS
The movie is scheduled for a May 5, 2017, release date, and is once again directed by James Gunn, with Gunn handling the script solo after the original being a collaborative process with Nicole Perlman. (Perlman is sticking with Marvel, however, co-writing Captain Marvel with Inside Out's Meg LeFauve.) The film wrapped production in June, with footage debuting a month later for San Diego Comic-Con crowds, followed by the release of the first poster and teaser in October. On Dec. 3, the first Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer was released.
WHO'S IN IT?
Not only are the core cast of the original returning — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillen and Michael Rooker, along with the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper — but they're joined by some familiar faces for the second go-round. Kurt Russell has signed on to play Star-Lord's father, while Chris Sullivan (The Knick), Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) and newcomer Pom Klementieff will also be showing up, playing Taserface, Ayesha and Mantis, respectively. But whether they'll be friends or foes remains a mystery — well, Mantis, at least; both Taserface and Ayesha have been identified as antagonists to some degree in the movie already.
At Comic-Con this summer, it was revealed that Sylvester Stallone will make an appearance in the movie, but the biggest mystery remains whether or not any of Marvel's other big-screen super team will show up. Gunn has gone on the record saying that he has no interest in a team-up with the Avengers, but with Thor: Ragnarok released just months after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and featuring both Thor and the Hulk in space, will there really not even be a cameo?
WHAT'S THE STORY?
Marvel has yet to release an official plot synopsis for Vol. 2 (the title was confirmed in June 2015 and refers to the mixtape conceit of the first movie). Gunn has joked that he feels more pressure following up the "Awesome Mix" soundtrack of the original than he does making the actual movie — but what is known: that it'll include Yondu ousted as leader of the Ravagers and forced to work alongside the Guardians, while Star-Lord discovers the truth about his missing father — namely, that his father is actually Ego, The Living Planet (Yes, an actual planet with a face on it).
According to Kurt Russell, who plays said planet, the movie will be "more connected to human issues, family issues, parental issues, and issues that sons and daughters have with their moms and dads and their family tree, where they come from" than any Marvel film before, which is saying a lot considering the Iron Man series. (Russell also said that it was "about finding out who you are, where you come from, and where you’re going.") James Gunn, meanwhile, has said that it's "a more emotional movie [than the first]. It's both a bigger movie and a smaller movie because we focus more intensely on some of the characters."
WHAT'S AT STAKE FOR MARVEL
The scale of the success of the first Guardians surprised many, and it's up to Gunn et al. to prove that wasn't a fluke. If Guardians Vol. 2 is as big of a hit as its predecessor, it opens the way for more "cosmic" characters, such as Warlock, Nova or Quasar. If not, well, there's always more Avengers, I guess …