Ayesha, High Priestess of The Sovereign sits on an opulent throne, boasting of the perfect evolutionary state reached by her species. The Sovereign are covered in gold, from their clothing and skin all the way down to their eyes. In sharp contrast to the supercilious society and their conceited leader stands the Guardians of the Galaxy, a damaged group of misfits barely keeping it together. It’s one thing to create an ensemble as engaging as this, but it’s another to know where to place them.
Lucky for us, James Gunn knows exactly what he’s doing.
The messy dynamic of these imperfect heroes is why the original space opera worked so well back in 2014, and Gunn is wise enough to use new scenarios to deepen and expand on what was previously established. The plot this time is fairly straightforward, garnished with a gleeful weirdness, yet always in service to its characters and themes. Its ambitions are internal despite its planet-sized special effects, so the expected references to infinity stones and the road to Infinity War are minimal.
Allusions to Thanos are included solely to flesh out the sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula, while doing a hell of a lot more to establish him as an intimidating presence than his physical appearance in the last movie did. The sisters are given little room to develop individually, but are captivating as a duo, with a backstory that would be fascinating to see in full.