“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” hits theaters nationwide today, and even if you haven’t seen the first movie from 2014, we’ve got you covered.
“Guardians Vol. 2” is a self-contained film, which means you really don’t have to know any of the other dozen or so Marvel movies to enjoy it. But here’s a recap of the first movie that was the first to feature Star-Lord, Groot, Drax and the rest of the gang.
In the first film, also directed by James Gunn, actor Chris Pratt took front and center as an orphan named Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, as he searches the galaxy for an orb that he intends to sell so that he can go off on his own and leave the group of scavenger pirates he has lived with for most of his life.
In his efforts to get this orb — which it turns out holds an all-powerful infinity stone — Quill meets Drax, Rocket the Raccoon, Gamora and Groot, who all want the stone for their own reasons.
Two others want the stone as well — Thanos, the big baddie we’ll get to know and see in another film, “Infinity War,” next year and Ronan, a crazed Kree, who wants to destroy an entire race of people. These two obviously have bad intentions for using the stone.
Hilarity ensues, but heart also, as Quill and the gang become allies and join together to defeat Ronan, risking their lives in he process, but saving millions of people.
“We are Groot.”
“Guardians” ends with Quill and his new team heading back into space for more adventures. But he also wants to find out about his father, who he has never met. His mother died when he was young, and then he was picked up by an alien, Yondu, who raised him as one of his Ravagers. This plot line plays heavily into Vol. 2.
What you need to know about ‘Guardians Vol. 2’ — Ego, Yondu, Quill and Groot
“Guardians Vol. 2” focuses heavily on Quill’s meeting his father, Ego the Living Planet, played by Kurt Russell.
The story of why Ego left when his young son is explored and explained, as is Quill’s special lineage.
Yondu (Michael Rooker) also plays a much bigger role in this film, the unique father figure for Quill. After he abducted Quill when he was very young, he decided to keep raise him as a Ravager instead of delivering him to his father Ego, who had hired the gang to find his lost boy. That’s explained.
Also key in this film is Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Quill’s will-they-won’t-they relationship, which we’ve seen in the trailers. There’s clearly something there as the two almost kissed in the first film, but will they make it official here?
The relationships keep coming as Gamora’s sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan) is also featured more than we saw in the first film. The two sisters showed true hatred for one another in the first; can they get over their differences here?
Then there’s Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Yondu, an unlikely duo paired off for a big chunk of the film. And don’t forget BABY GROOT, now toddler Groot, who is constantly dancing around and doing his best to help the team save the galaxy.
It’s a roller coaster of a ride with much more comedy and one-liners than the first.
What it was like on set
ABC News spoke to “Guardians Vol. 2” director of photography Henry Braham about his time on the set. He also shared some exclusive photos that are peppered throughout this article.
“It is a visual feast,” he said of the colors and Gunn’s vision for the film. “But it’s still the same process of figuring out what the idea is and making it feel truthful. In this particular case, the movie is about humanity, but set in a fantastical world. The storytelling is truthful and that’s why it’s funny, truthful about human behavior and human relationships.”
Braham said that every character in this film and Gunn’s script is a “full and rounded character, however flawed.”
“The flawed part of these characters is what’s so great about it,” he added. “I love photographing faces, and all of the cast have very expressive and beautiful faces.”
“I loved working with James. He has a very clear voice and invests himself in the movie,” Braham said. “The very best movies have the personality of the director … ‘Guardians’ is James Gunn’s personality.”
In fact, Braham said Gunn wanted to “capture spontaneity” of the cast and shoot the film “almost like a documentary.”
“The camera had to be spontaneous too, and within the moment, and in a very unobtrusive way,” he said.
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