*Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — from the very first sentence.*
There are many aspects to consider with an onscreen death; killing off a character is a delicate process, fraught with emotion, a moment that needs to be handled just right to resonate fully with the audience, a moment that — if done well — can become a lip-trembling, "I'm-not-crying" experience audiences won't forget.
James Gunn expertly weaves between the dark and light sides of humanity in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, creating an emotional rollercoaster with plenty of ups and downs. But nothing compares to Yondu Udonta's tragically fitting death, as he selflessly sacrifices his own life to save the life of his surrogate son, Star-Lord, in a scene that will be remembered as one of the most emotional moments in the #MCU.
Sometimes, within the protective sheath of superhero bubble-wrap, it can be easy to forget that even those born on comic book panels can meet their demise on the big screen. Michael Rooker — already a standout for his portrayal of Yondu in #GuardiansoftheGalaxy2 — is just as integral to the sequel, making his death all the more tragic. Many would've loved to have seen him return for #InfinityWar and beyond, but this was a death that needed to happen.
Yondu's Death In 'Guardians Of The Galaxy 2' Was Necessary
In the first movie, Yondu is established as Star-Lord's adopted father, having taken him under his wing and raising him as his own. Throughout the movie, although the Guardians and the Ravagers clash, Yondu's paternal affection is clear, resulting in a lenience toward Peter Quill that brings his leadership under question.
#GuardiansOfTheGalaxy2 only expands on that. It's a psychological study of the the concept of family disguised as a superhero movie, and within that, Yondu becomes a vital piece in the jigsaw. Early on, he is rejected by Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), who exiled Yondu for breaking the Ravager code by smuggling Ego's children.
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When the Ravagers are assigned the task of capturing the Guardians on behalf of Alisha, Yondu's affinity toward Star-Lord (he announces he won't be handing the Guardians in after all) leads to a mutiny, and his eventual capture. After forming a partnership with Rocket and Baby Groot, Yondu steals the show (accompanied by his new prototype fin and ruthless Yaka Arrow) upon the trio's escape from the Eclector.
This tumbles the first domino of Yondu's redemption. After their escape, Yondu, Rocket, Baby Groot and Kraglin (who has a change of heart, returning loyalty to his boss) risk an eye-popping 700 jumps to reach Ego's planet. Away from these events, by now Ego's power-hungry, universe dominating evil side has been revealed, consequently revealing that Yondu kidnapped Star-Lord to save him for a probable death — the same fate faced by many of Star-Lord's siblings.
How Yondu's Death Was The Perfect Redemption
During the final traumatic final battle against Ego, Yondu's words give Star-Lord encouragement to defeat his father. As the bomb planted to destroy Ego is about to explode, Yondu stays behind to save Star-Lord, with Rocket giving him his only spacesuit. As the pair rise high above the disintegrating rubble of Star-Lord's celestial father, Yondu apologises for any mistakes he made, before dramatically transferring his suit to Star-Lord, consigning himself to death.
In what was the perfect redemption though, Yondu's death was not in vain. At Yondu's funeral, Star-Lord accepted him as the father he always wanted, shortly before the fleet of Ravagers arrive to commemorate him in their own, stunning, visually spectacular way. Significantly, Yondu's redemption sparks Stakar to reunite with Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Krugarr and Mainframe — reforming the original Guardians.
There's no doubt the character will be missed in the MCU, especially after being accepted into the Guardians of the Galaxy team so shortly before his demise. And he may've felt, as a father, he "didn't do it right." But as far as storytelling goes, Yondu's death was tragically perfect.
How do you feel about Yondu's death in Guardians of the Galaxy 2? Should Gunn have kept him alive for future MCU movies?