Film Friday (On a Sunday): Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the Right Way to do a Sequel *Spoilers*
My girlfriend doesn’t get emotional during movies. She just doesn’t. She’s told me many times that she could watch Marley and Me without tearing up. And she’s a dog lover. So imagine my surprise when I saw her cry in a movie theater for the first time…after Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
How does a movie that stars a talking tree and a gun-toting raccoon cause someone to have an emotional experience?
Today I want to look at the new Marvel movie and talk about how sequels can improve on the original. While there are many ways to this, I want to take a closer look at two factors: building up characters and raising the stakes.
1. Build the Characters
If you want us to give a crap about the same characters again, you must flesh them out more than the first film without completely changing what makes them stand out in the first place.
Anyone who has seen the first Guardians movie knows about Peter Quill: he was born on Earth, his mom died from cancer, and he’s a sucker for classic rock. He is also cynical, cocky, and the leader of a band of misfits — including the aforementioned raccoon and tree.
So what should be done for the next movie? Let’s have Peter meet his dad, Ego, for the first time. Also, let’s make his dad a god. This not only ties loose ends from the first movie, but it also adds to the realism of the character as we see him do things like play catch or learn about his powers. Not only that, but it also breaks our hearts when we find out more about Ego and his plans.
This kind of attention to detail was given to many of the characters in the film. We learn more about the troubled past of Gamora and Nebula, the hardships of Rocket, sadness of Drax. Even Yondu, a character I thought was ok in the first movie, was treated with so much care and that I have to reconsider him as one of my favorite MCU characters.
2. Raise the Stakes
This is one of the most important aspects of storytelling. There must be a cost if a character fails his or her goals, and this cost must build as the story progresses.
In the first film, the guardians helped protect the planet Xandar, so what do they need to do now? They have to protect the entire universe. Not only that, but the way to stop the end of everything is not as simple as destroying one portal in the sky.
They have to stop a god, and the consequences of doing this will be harder on some of the characters compared to the others.
This climax to the film helps to raise both physical and emotional stakes.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is not only a great summer movie, but it’s also a fantastic sequel. It fleshes out characters that have already been established and also raises the stakes compared to the first installment. If done right, you can move even the most emotionally tough to tears.
If done wrong, well…I’ll talk about that next week.