Minor spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
By now, you've probably seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and there's a good chance you loved it. While lacking the joyous exuberance of the first movie, this follow-up mixtape delivers enough entertainment to suggest the Guardians and Marvel's new "cosmic universe" are the future of the MCU.
But one area in which Vol. 2 disappoints is story. Put simply, there isn't much of one. Most of the movie takes place on Ego's planet, where there's a lot of talking and some gorgeous visuals, but for a solid hour not a lot actually happens.
And this prompts the question...
Where The Hell Is Thanos?
It seems strange that for a movie whose core theme is family — a film which smartly establishes that Gamora and Nebula are forever tied by the shared horrors of their upbringing at the hand of their adoptive father #Thanos — the Titan himself is nowhere to be seen.
James Gunn said that he wanted the Guardians themselves (and Star-Lord's father-son relationship with Ego) to take centre stage, but #InfinityWar is now just a year away. And #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy2, a movie focused on the galaxy's defenders and featuring Thanos's kids, does nothing at all to set the stage for the potentially galaxy-destroying completion of the Mad Titan's Infinity Gauntlet.
Sure, Vol. 2 is already packing in a lot of characters, but having Gamora hang around trying to talk sense into Peter as he gets to know Ego felt like a waste. If her story arc with Nebula had climaxed with a confrontation between the sisters and Thanos, the emotional pay-off could've been infinitely more satisfying.
More importantly, it squandered a golden opportunity to really get casual #Marvel fans hyped about Thanos before Infinity War. Let's face it, Ego wasn't a particularly great villain. For someone who's been around for millions of years, he was destroyed pretty easily by a baby tree, a raccoon and some batteries — probably not the glorious end he'd imagined for himself. A quick reminder that Thanos is out there, raging about not having got his hands on that final Infinity Stone, would've worked wonders for establishing that there are way bigger threats facing the galaxy's guardians.
I'm not hating on Guardians Vol. 2, and it's possible that Marvel wants to sow the seeds for Infinity War in Thor: Ragnarok later this year. But there's a killer father-kid story to be told in the galaxy, and James Gunn's sequel chose the wrong one.
Should Guardians Vol. 2 have given us another taste of the Mad Titan?