Warning: Spoilers in this commentary and review of the film

The Marvel machine rolls on, does it not? As per usual, I don’t plan to full-on rehash and review this film. There are more dedicated individuals on YouTube and other online media that are better suited to do so. I want to look at this as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 potentially affects the comic book cinema landscape.

Calm down, critics!

Before writing this, I watched several of my favorite reviewers and read a few opinion pieces. What I have to say is this: How spoiled you’ve become! One reviewer referred to the third act as having “major problems.” Another says the whole “parents messing up your life” theme has become old within the MCU. You’re kidding me right? Unreal. Before I get into further detail – I will state unequivocally this film was fantastic by all accounts. You want action? It gives you action. You need some drama? You get your drama. You like to laugh? It’s got jokes. You disliked the drab color scheme used by other Marvel franchises? You get your color like Steve Jobs on LSD. So you like the end of credits scenes? You get 5! Most movies that have a checklist this long cannot hold the entire film together. This movie? Seamless. I even saw an interview basically saying Marvel is a victim of its own success! You’ve lost credibility there. For that person, there will never be any satisfaction.

Kind of a big deal

Lets be honest here. Comic book movies are a thing now; produced with big budgets and released regularly. What they’re not made to be: Oscar competitors. Far from it. Their judge, jury and executioners are comics fans. Whether or not they follow the comics exactly is a decision which each juror balances with his or her tastes. Some prefer exact while others couldn’t care less. Most fall in the middle where they demand that characters are treated with respect to their origins. Hence, a Batman comedy wouldn’t work, just like a Squirrel Girl dark action piece couldn’t be produced. To point out those reviewers who know this is easy (moviebob, thank you). Others tend to lose sight of that (Screen Junkies) on occasion. Honestly, some of the reviews had me with my mouth open with shock. What more do you people want? James Gunn obviously put his heart and soul into this film. The actors believe in it. And I honestly think Disney is hands off after screwing up Age of Ultron. I do believe Kevin Feige exerts significant influence … but he must! He captains the ship, and he does so well, I may add.

Directing the GOTG ship

James Gunn, thank you. He’s done what few directors can — he takes his craft seriously each and every film, he doesn’t compromise his style, and big budgets and vast bureaucracies don’t scare him. I’ll admit, some credit goes to Marvel Studios, but still. I think the price of admission for James Gunn was the success of the first film. Tales out of Marvel Studios directors point to a tightly run ship, and I believe the GOTG team earned the right to put their hands on the wheel and steer. I also think that the Captain America Winter Solider/Civil War directors, the Russo brothers, have also earned their stripes. The Marvel Studios machine works, and to have a seat in the war room, one needs to produce. Unlike DC, Marvel doesn’t allow their associates to continue if they don’t raise the bar when it’s their turn (*ahem*… Zach Snyder).

How does GOTG fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Finally, I want to give my opinion on where the MCU is going based upon this movie. GOTG has a solidified core team now. Presumably, their next outing will be during Avengers 4 Infinity War (-ish … more on that below). Who knows? Thor: Ragnarok is clearly in the MCU cosmic realm now. A quick viewing by GOTG wouldn’t be misplaced. Their team has an Avengers-like feel and will surely create some spectacularly hilarious conversations with the likes of Tony Stark, Captain America, Vision, Ant-Man, etc., albeit they will likely meet under inauspicious circumstances. The end credits scenes provide more clues to MCU future … one in particular caught my eye. The golden skinned Ayesha, aka “Her” (which served as a clue all movie long) is seen creating “Adam.” Adam Warlock now exists in the MCU. Whats the problem? This:

“Adam is not in Infinity War,” Feige said. “That is not a tag for Infinity War. In that case in particular, James [Gunn] has ideas. And had played with incarnations of Adam Warlock in earlier drafts of other Guardians films. So he’s always been top of mind for the Guardians franchise. And if he appears anywhere in the future, it’ll be with Guardians.”

What does this mean for Adam Warlock?

In a recent interview with SlashFilm, Feige basically shot down the importance of Adam Warlock in the MCU. It seems as though one of the most powerful figures in the cosmic Marvel universe will be none other than a Sovereign video-game playing semi-villain. Well, we don’t know that, but that’s what Ayesha was. My problem? Don’t call Avengers 2 Infinity War unless you’re taking elements from that story. As of now, there’s no real way to connect the comic and movie. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ask for specific adaptations — after all, Civil War shared little with the movie version — the theme, however, was the same. Infinity War is a battle with Adam Warlock’s alter ego, Magus. After Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock had the cosmic powers of the Infinity Gems (Stones) removed by the Celestials. He kept the soul stone as its guardian. Magus is an alter ego acting through some weird comic book hocus pocus from another dimension to, you know, take everything over. There’s even little known Infinity Crusade where the Goddess takes everything over as a super religious deity. She is Adam’s good alter ego, or so it seems.

Above image artwork credit: Dave Keenan, https://www.artstation.com/artwork/YRAqK

The point is, Adam Warlock is the author, instigator, savior, protagonist, antagonist and all around inter dimensional mega traveler for many excellent Marvel story-lines. If “Him” is pushed to the sidelines so easily, then I worry for the longevity of the MCU. It leaves me asking … so where are you taking this thing? You don’t have Fantastic Four (Celestial battles, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Franklin Richards), you don’t have X Men (Phoenix, Encron Crystal, Watchers), and you’re technically “borrowing” Spiderman. I know there are other directions to go, however not many great Marvel stories are without Adam Warlock, F4 or X Men property in the cosmic realm. Maybe they still have access to a few Secret Wars (original) elements. For now, Feige and company have my trust, but the news on Adam Warlock’s significant downgrade have made that trust more fragile.