Warning: Spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to follow!
"Some unspoken thing." At first glance, those three words are just a bit of humor; a coded way for Peter Quill and Gamora to talk about their relationship, without daring to actually broach the subject for real. In reality, though, these three words are key to every character arc in #GuardiansOfTheGalaxyVol2.
The film, you see, is all about family. And all too often, family falls apart when we don't dare to be open and honest with one another. In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so many relationships have broken down — or are in danger of doing so — because of these "unspoken things". And so one of the central themes of the movie is daring to speak out that which has previously gone unsaid...
Gamora And Nebula
Let's start with the bitter, twisted relationship between Gamora and Nebula. We already knew there was bad blood between these two siblings from the first film, but the sequel explains why. Shortly after the two sisters have made their latest attempt to kill each other, they're forced to actually open up to one another for the first time. We learn that Thanos abused the sisters terribly, forcing them to fight against one another, and that the loser lost a body part, which got replaced with cybernetic technology. It's a sickening detail, one that churns the stomach when you imagine bringing two children up like that, and it's left a terrible gulf between Gamora and Nebula.
Gamora, you see, was always the victory in their childhood battles. Nebula had come to hate her sister, blaming her for every body part she'd lost, for every piece of cybernetic technology implanted in her body. Gamora, meanwhile, had responded to Nebula's anger in kind, failing to understand just why her sister hated her. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sees Nebula win for the first time, triggering a snarling exchange that exposes these two characters' hearts to one another.
It's probably the first time these two sisters have ever had a heart-to-heart, and it's telling that the film ends with their first hug. Sure, Nebula doesn't return Gamora's embrace, but it's a start.
Rocket Raccoon And Yondu
Now let's turn our gaze to Rocket Raccoon. He's abrasive, treats others with contempt, and seems determined to make every situation worse; frankly, Rocket spends the first act getting on the rest of the team's nerves. It's only when Rocket allies with Yondu that we learn why; Yondu exposes Rocket's heart, revealing that the two are much more alike than they first appear. Each is, in truth, afraid — and so, they've both resorted to pushing people away. The scene in which this is revealed is beautiful but brief, shining a dazzling light on both characters, and exposing what the rest of the Guardians simply do not know.
It's true that, by the end of the movie, nobody else knows about this particular "unspoken thing" — but that's not the point. Yondu has given voice to a truth that Rocket has been hiding from everybody, including himself. By voicing this truth, Yondu has given Rocket a gift of self-awareness that has the potential to transform his life.
Drax And Mantis
Of course, it's fitting that a film that's all about the "unspoken thing" has a character who can reveal emotions. But Mantis's power isn't just played for laughs; in one beautiful scene, she places her hand on Drax's skin and senses the grief that he feels pretty much every waking moment of his life. In a strange way, that one scene gives us more insight into Drax's character than any other moment in the film.
The relationship between Drax and Mantis is a strange, disturbing one, filled with "unspoken things." In an act that can only be described as body-shaming, Drax describes Mantis as "ugly"; later, he mock-retches at the idea of having sex with her. Of course, we as the viewers can see beyond that; we can see that, in truth, Drax is attracted to Mantis, and doesn't want to admit it to himself. To confess his feelings would be a betrayal of his old life, of the wife and daughter he has lost. There's a crack in Drax's facade by the film's close, where he confesses that Mantis is beautiful "on the inside." But it's still only a crack, and the secrets of Drax's heart go unspoken.
Peter Quill And Yondu
One of the great "unspoken things" of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the complicated, thorny relationship between Peter Quill and Yondu. Although it's gone unspoken, the truth is that Yondu cares about Peter, and that he sees Star-Lord as a son. In a beautiful twist, the film closes with Peter realizing that, although Ego was his father, Yondu was his dad.
Most poignantly, though, the truth about Yondu's relationship with Peter doesn't go revealed through mere words. Yondu demonstrates his love for Peter Quill, giving his life to save his son. It's a beautiful, heart-wrenching scene of self-sacrifice, as the man who abducted children across the galaxy dies saving the child he took and loved.
Peter Quill And Gamora
This, of course, is the "unspoken thing" that goes unresolved. Peter and Gamora care about one another, they're deeply attracted to one another — but they simply won't take things to the next level. Gamora, in particular, is unused to being close to others; she hides her heart, rather than wearing it on her sleeve. When Peter confronts her about it, she denies any attraction between them.
Until the end of the film, that is. Just acknowledging that she is looking at Peter because of "some unspoken thing" is progress for Gamora. Being reunited with her sister has had a transformative effect on this assassin, cracking the walls around her heart, and allowing her — for the first time — to acknowledge the emotions that lie within.
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"Some unspoken thing." Those three words may sound like throwaway lines, but they're the key to almost every character arc in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Guardians are a family, and they are bound together by these unspoken things. It's testament to the writing genius of #JamesGunn, as he carefully weaves this common thread through so many characters' stories, and in doing so ensures his film has a powerful impact.
Do you want Peter and Gamora to get together in 'Vol. 3'?
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