Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Guardians travel throughout the cosmos as they help Peter Quill learn more about his mysterious parentage.
The film was officially announced at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International before the theatrical release of the first film, along with Gunn’s return from the first film, with the title of the sequel revealed a year later in June 2015. The film began principal photography in February 2016 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, with many crew changes from the first film due to other commitments. Filming concluded in June 2016. Gunn chose to set the sequel shortly after the first film to explore the characters’ new roles as the Guardians, and to follow the storyline of Quill’s father established throughout the first film—Russell was confirmed in that role in July 2016, portraying Ego, a departure from Quill’s comic father.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 premiered in Tokyo on April 10, 2017 and was released in the United States on May 5, 2017, in 3D and IMAX 3D. It has grossed $750 million worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing film of 2017. The film was well received by critics for its humor, soundtrack and cast. A sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, is being developed with Gunn returning to write and direct.
In 2014, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot are renowned as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, has the Guardians protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries. After Rocket steals some for himself, the Sovereign attacks the Guardians’ ship with a fleet of drones. The drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, but the Guardians crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill’s father, Ego. He invites Quill, Gamora, and Drax to his home planet, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.
Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians. They capture Rocket, but when Yondu hesitates to turn over Quill, whom he raised, his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny with help from Nebula. Taserface imprisons Rocket and Yondu aboard Yondu’s ship and executes his loyalists while Nebula leaves to track down and kill Gamora, whom she blames for all the torture inflicted on her by their father, Thanos. While imprisoned, Rocket and Yondu bond. Groot and Yondu’s loyalist Kraglin free Rocket and Yondu, and they destroy the ship and its crew as they escape, though not before Taserface warns the Sovereign.
Ego, a god-like Celestial that manipulated the matter around its consciousness to form his “home” planet, explains that he projected a human guise to travel the universe and discover a purpose, eventually falling in love with Quill’s mother Meredith. Ego hired Yondu to collect the young Quill after Meredith’s death, but the boy was never delivered and Ego has been searching for his son ever since. He teaches Quill to manipulate their Celestial power. Nebula arrives at Ego’s planet and tries to kill Gamora, but the pair reach an uneasy alliance when they discover caverns filled with skeletal remains. Ego reveals to Quill that in his travels he planted seedlings on thousands of worlds which can terraform them into new extensions of himself, but they can only be activated by the combined power of two Celestials. To that end, he impregnated countless women and hired Yondu to collect the children, but killed them all when they failed to access the Celestial power. Under the influence of Ego’s power, Quill helps him activate the seedlings, which begin to consume every world. However, Quill fights back when Ego reveals that he caused Meredith’s death due to the distraction she posed.
Mantis, Ego’s naive empath servant, grows close to Drax and warns him of Ego’s plan. Gamora and Nebula also learn of the plan just as Rocket, Yondu, Groot and Kraglin arrive. The reunited Guardians reach Ego’s brain at the planet’s core, and fight the Sovereign’s arriving drones. Rocket makes a bomb using the stolen batteries, which Groot plants on Ego’s brain. Quill battles Ego with his newfound Celestial powers in order to distract him enough to allow the other Guardians and Mantis to escape. The bomb explodes, killing Ego and disintegrating the planet. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill, who realizes that the reason Yondu kept him was to spare him from the fate of Ego’s other progeny, and that Yondu was Quill’s true “daddy”. Having reconciled with Gamora, Nebula still chooses to leave and attempt to kill Thanos. The Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu, which is attended by dozens of Ravager ships, acknowledging Yondu’s sacrifice and accepting him again as a Ravager. While watching the funeral from the ship, Gamora admits to Quill that there is something between them, and they embrace.
In a series of mid- and post-credit scenes, Kraglin takes up Yondu’s telekinetic arrow and control fin; Ravager leader Stakar Ogord reunites with his ex-teammates; Groot starts growing back to normal size, exhibiting typical teenage behavior in the process; Ayesha creates a new artificial being with whom she plans to destroy the Guardians, naming him Adam;[N 1] and a group of uninterested Watchers listen to their informant discussing several experiences on Earth.
- The half-human, half-Celestial leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy who was abducted from Earth as a child and raised by a group of alien thieves and smugglers called the Ravagers. Pratt said Quill is now famous throughout “the galaxy for having saved so many people… He feels like he’s part of this group, a leader of this group. He’s a little more responsible and trying to stay out of trouble, but not necessarily doing the best job.” Pratt stated that working on the film forced him to come to terms with the death of his father. Pratt returns as part of a multi-film contract with Marvel. Wyatt Oleff once again portrays a young Quill.
- A member of the Guardians and an orphan from an alien world who seeks redemption for her past crimes. She was trained by Thanos to be his personal assassin. Saldana described Gamora’s role in the team as “the voice of reason” saying, “She’s surrounded by all these dudes who are so stupid half the time,” and added that she is the “Mom” of the team, saying that she is “just a meticulous, detailed, professional individual.” Regarding Gamora’s relationship with Nebula, Saldana described it as “volatile” and added, “we’re starting somewhere very crazy but appropriate given where we had ended things off in the first” film.
- A member of the Guardians and highly skilled warrior in search for vengeance against Thanos for his family’s slaughter. Bautista opted to wait for the final version of the script to be surprised by the story and not take “away from the magic” or “put a damper on it”, which he felt happened when he read early drafts of the script for the first film. Describing how Drax has progressed from the first film, Bautista called him “more funny, driven” and having “a sense of innocence and heartbreak about him”, despite “most people’s first perception of Drax [that] he’s just a big, muscly brute, and he’s just going to go in and be an all-action character.” Bautista’s makeup took only 90 minutes to apply, down from four hours for the first film. He added that he would have to sit in a sauna at the end of the day to get the makeup off, after his makeup test found it too “abrasive”.
- A member of the Guardians who is a tree-like humanoid and the accomplice of Rocket. The character began growing from a sapling at the end of the first film with the intention of being fully grown by the sequel, but writer/director James Gunn eventually decided to keep him as “Baby Groot”; this decision contributed to Gunn’s setting of the film only a few months after the first. Baby Groot does not have any of his previous memories. Gunn felt there was a larger awareness of the character during filming compared to the first film, for which Gunn and the cast “just kind of always forgot he was there” with the stand-in actor not having the same presence that Sean Gunn did portraying Rocket. Diesel added that Baby Groot “couldn’t be more naive” and felt the Groot seen in the first film was “a college level Groot. He’s not fully grown yet, but he’s a man… now he has to start all over, so to speak. So we’re going to see this goofy, adorable, baby Groot thing running around the screen. Just kinda learning as he goes.” Prop master Russell Bobbitt created a 1:1 scale model of the 10-inch (25 cm) Baby Groot for filming to use “as a lighting reference and sometimes puppeteered against the actors during the filming of scenes.” As Groot only communicates with the phrase “I am Groot” in different inflections, Gunn created a “Groot Version” of the script for himself and Diesel, which contains each of Groot’s lines in English. Diesel used a higher register of his voice for Baby Groot, which was then pitched up by seven to nine semitones depending on the take, to achieve “the proper nuance”. He also delivered the lines slowly to avoid any time stretching issues that would affect the compression. Diesel recorded Groot’s voice for sixteen foreign-language releases of the film, up from six in the first film.
- A member of the Guardians who is a genetically modified raccoon bounty hunter and mercenary who is also a master of weapons and military tactics. Sean Gunn once again served as the stand-in for the character during filming, stating that, similar to the first film, “Rocket has the same sort of crisis of faith about whether or not he belongs in this family.” James Gunn added, “this is really about Rocket coming to terms with accepting his place within a group of people, which probably seemed like a good idea for two seconds when they were kind of getting along and saving the planet, and now’s it’s like, he’s just not very comfortable with the idea with being a part of this group.” Feige stated that the relationship between Rocket and Groot has changed, saying, “Whereas Groot was Rocket’s protector in the first movie, Rocket is Groot’s protector.”
- A blue-skinned buccaneer who is the leader of the Ravagers, a fatherly figure to Quill, and member of the Guardians. Yondu has a larger head fin in the film, bringing the character’s look closer to his comic counterpart. Rooker explained that, for the sequel, Gunn “wanted people to experience more in-depth what Yondu was thinking and how he’s feeling—a more serious Yondu. There are things from Yondu’s past that audiences find are much darker and more sinister; those feelings and emotions are rearing their heads and affecting Yondu.” Rooker noted the complex relationship between Yondu and Quill where “It’s somewhat of a father/son relationship, where we don’t agree on things…they are constantly at each other’s throats [but] Yondu truly cares about this kid.” Discussing Yondu’s death at the end of the film, Gunn said he “didn’t want that to be the ending, and I kind of refused to put that in as the ending for a long time…But, at the end of the day, I knew that’s where it needed to go. I knew that we need to have real stakes in these movies.” He continued, “The whole movie led to that one moment…. This is a story about a father’s love for his son, his ultimate love, so much love that he sacrifices himself for that, and that’s what Yondu is. He is 100 percent Peter Quill’s father” despite Ego being Quill’s biological father. Before the release of Vol. 2, Rooker spent time on the set of Avengers: Infinity War. Gunn explained that this was done to counteract rumors that the actor was not in that film because of his death in this one.
- An adopted daughter of Thanos who was raised with Gamora as siblings, and a reluctant member of the Guardians. Gillan stated the film would further explore the sisterly relationship between Nebula and Gamora, including their backstory “and what happened to these two girls growing up and actually how awful it was for them and how it’s ruined their relationship”, adding “we’re [also] going to start to see how much pain [Thanos] actually caused [Nebula]… we really start to see the emotional crack in her character”. While Gillan had to shave her head for the first film, she only had to shave half of her head for the sequel, taking away the underneath part and leaving the top. Gillan’s makeup took two and a half hours to apply, down from five hours for the first film.
- A member of the Guardians with empathic powers who lives with Ego. Schwartz said the character “has never really experienced social interaction”, and “learns about dealing with people” and “social intricacies” from the other Guardians. Klementieff added, “She was really lonely and by herself, so it’s a completely new thing to meet these people and to discover new things and new emotions and a new way of sharing things…I think it’s like a kid, you know? You discover things and you’re curious about things and you make mistakes and you say, like, weird things or you’re awkward.” Mantis and Drax also have an “interesting” relationship according to Feige, since “they’re both complete odd balls”. Steve Englehart, Mantis’s co-creator, was disappointed with the character’s portrayal, saying, “That character has nothing to do with Mantis … I really don’t know why you would take a character who is as distinctive as Mantis is and do a completely different character and still call her Mantis.”
- The golden High Priestess and the leader of the Sovereign people, a genetically engineered race who are “gold and perfect and wanting to be physically and mentally impeccable.” Gunn was “very specific” when writing the character, and after casting director Sarah Finn suggested Debicki, Gunn “knew right away that she was the one”. Gunn highlighted the actress’s beauty and 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) height. Debicki wore platform shoes to increase her height to 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m).
- The leader of a mutinous group of the Ravagers. Gunn originally posted a photo of the comic book character on his social media after landing Guardians of the Galaxy, calling him “the dumbest character of all time” and saying he would never feature the character in a film. After eventually deciding to use the character in the sequel, Gunn felt the character had given himself the name Taserface and is “a real dumbass”. Sullivan’s makeup took two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours to apply each day.
- Yondu’s second-in-command in the Ravagers. Kraglin has an expanded role compared to the previous film—Sean Gunn explained, “In the first film he did a lot of just saying yes and being at Yondu’s side, but in this movie things take a little bit of a different turn as Kraglin has a little bit of a crisis of conscience and has to decide whether he’s going to stick with Yondu or join forces with the growing faction of mutineers.”
- A high-ranking Ravager who has a history with Yondu. Stallone called his character’s relationship with Yondu “pretty intense and it’s kind of a father/son type of thing”. Gunn described Stakar as “very important to the Marvel Universe”, and said that though he was unsure whether Stallone would appear in Vol. 3 at the time of Vol. 2‘s release, “it’s our plan to see more of Stallone” in future MCU films.
- An ancient Celestial being who is Quill’s father. Pratt was the first to suggest to Gunn that he consider Russell for the role; he portrays an avatar of Ego who is more traditionally seen in the comics in his “Living Planet” form. Russell appreciated why he was wanted for the role after seeing Pratt’s performance in the first film, feeling “That’s my kinda guy. I know where that kind of goof comes from.” He added, “I bring the right things [from previous roles]…I connected the dots from some of the things I’ve done in the past.” Ego replaces Quill’s original comic father of J’son, and was allowed to be used in the film after 20th Century Fox reached a deal with Marvel Studios to return the film rights of Ego for changing the power set of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, whom Fox wanted to use in Deadpool (2016). Gunn originally thought Marvel held the rights to the character, and stated that, had the deal with Fox not been made, there was “no back up plan, and it would [have been] nearly impossible to just drop another character in” given the extensive work done surrounding the character. For the film’s opening sequence, set in 1980 Missouri, Aaron Schwartz served as facial reference for the young Ego.
Additionally, reprising their roles from the first film are Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill, Gregg Henry as her father, Seth Green as the voice of Howard the Duck, and canine actor Fred as Cosmo. Members of Yondu’s Ravager crew appearing in the film include Evan Jones as Wrench, Jimmy Urine as Half-Nut, Stephen Blackehart as Brahl, Steve Agee as Gef, Mike Escamilla as Scrote, Joe Fria as Oblo, Terence Rosemore as Narblik, and Tommy Flanagan as Tullk, as well as Charred Walls of the Damned drummer and Howard Stern Show personality Richard Christy in a cameo appearance. Many of these actors are close friends with Gunn. The other members of Stakar and Yondu’s old team, based on the comic’s original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, include Michael Rosenbaum as Martinex, Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, and Michelle Yeoh as Stakar’s female counterpart Aleta Ogord. Also included in the team are the CG characters Krugarr and Mainframe, with the latter voiced, in an uncredited cameo, by Miley Cyrus. Rosenbaum had previously auditioned to play Peter Quill in Vol. 1. Gunn cast Yeoh because of his love of 1990s Hong Kong films, and Cyrus after admiring “the tone of her voice” while watching her as a judge on The Voice. He added that the team would return in future MCU films alongside Stallone’s Stakar.
Stan Lee appears as an informant to the Watchers, discussing previous adventures that include Lee’s cameos in other MCU films; he specifically mentions his time as a FedEx delivery man, referring to Lee’s cameo in Captain America: Civil War. This acknowledged the fan theory that Lee may be portraying the same character in all his cameos, with Gunn noting that “people thought Stan Lee is [Uatu the Watcher] and that all of these cameos are part of him being a Watcher. So, Stan Lee as a guy who is working for the Watchers was something that I thought was fun for the MCU.” Feige added that Lee “clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films. So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians…really says, so wait a minute, he’s this same character who’s popped up in all these films?” Lee filmed several different versions of the scene, including an alternative where he references his role in Deadpool, which would have been the first acknowledgment of the X-Men film series by an MCU film. Gunn later admitted that the Civil War reference is a continuity error, given Vol. 2 is set before the events of Civil War, saying, “I screwed up; I wasn’t thinking. But I’m going to say that probably Stan Lee used the guise of a Fed Ex guy more than one time.”
David Hasselhoff makes a cameo appearance as himself, when Ego shape-shifts to his likeness, while Rob Zombie once again has a Ravager voice cameo. Footage of Jeff Goldblum dancing as the Grandmaster from the set of Thor: Ragnarok appears briefly during the end credits, with Feige explaining that Marvel “thought it would be fun to put it in there” and hint at the connection between that character and the Collector, who appeared in the first film. Jim Gunn Sr. and Leota Gunn, parents of James and Sean Gunn, also make cameo appearances in the film.
“There are general ideas for what the sequel is and where it goes and who’s involved and what happens and what we find out about our characters. So it’s very general and that could change. Sometimes you have ideas and you write them down and they’re too convoluted on paper and it’s too many ideas for one thing or it’s not enough ideas or whatever and so that could easily change, but I know a lot about who these characters are and where they came from and where they’re going. I’m excited by the possibility of creating a sequel because we had to do a lot of setup in [the first] movie and with a sequel we don’t have to do that setup which will make it so much easier for me.”
—James Gunn, writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, on the state of the sequel in August 2014
In May 2014, Disney CEO Bob Iger talked about the future of Guardians of the Galaxy, saying, “We’re looking forward to introducing the world to more fantastic Marvel storytelling, with a great cast of new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy… We believe it has strong franchise potential.” He added that their goal was to create “another Avengers“. James Gunn, director and co-screenwriter of Guardians of the Galaxy, revealed that, should a sequel film be made, he would like to return, in addition to being contractually obligated to if asked. The next month, producer Kevin Feige added, “should [Guardians of the Galaxy] work, should the audience come out for this one, there are definitely places we can take [the franchise] and we have ideas of where we’d like to go with it,” due to the wide array of characters, worlds and story lines from the Guardians comics.
In July 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman confirmed a sequel, saying it was “going to happen” due to the positive internal response to the first film at Disney, and confirmed that Gunn would write and direct. At San Diego Comic-Con International 2014, the sequel was given a release date of July 28, 2017. A month later, Gunn revealed that he had begun work on the sequel, and that “there should be at least one more Guardian from the comics” appearing in the film. In October, Gunn confirmed that all five original Guardians would return, along with other characters from the original film, and the release date was moved up to May 5, 2017. In the following months, Michael Rooker said he would return for the sequel as Yondu, and was looking forward to exploring new areas of the character; Chris Pratt, who played Peter Quill/Star-Lord in the first film, confirmed the sequel would be one of his next projects; and Bradley Cooper expressed interest and excitement when asked if he would return as Rocket for the sequel.
In March 2015, Gunn revealed that filming would take place in Atlanta, Georgia with “major crew changes” from the first film, and that his brother, Sean Gunn, would return as Kraglin alongside Karen Gillan as Nebula. He also explained his working relationship with Marvel, saying, “We have a really great relationship where they let me go and do my thing, and I truly listen to their notes and ideas. I’ve never been told to put in any character or plot element at all… When [Marvel] trust[s] you—and I think I’ve earned their trust over the past few years—they give you a wide berth… we just fit.” Vin Diesel confirmed he would return as Groot, and a month later Gunn confirmed the film would be released in 3D.
In May, Gunn said the sequel would feature fewer characters than the first film, and that he had planned to introduce two major new characters in the script—Mantis and Adam Warlock. Talks had begun with an actor Gunn had in mind to portray Mantis, while he had decided to remove Warlock due to the film “getting too busy”, explaining, “one of the main things with Guardians of the Galaxy is not to add a bunch of characters, not to make it bigger in that way but to go deeper with the characters… and getting to know them more emotionally… everything is just getting too sprawling and too crazy for me in these superhero comic book movies. And also in superhero comics in general. There’s just too many characters so you can’t concentrate on one and really get to know that character, and I really want to get to know the characters that we know better.” Gunn added, “I adored what we had done with him. I think we did something really creative and unique with Adam Warlock. But it was one character too many and I didn’t want to lose Mantis and Mantis was more organically part of the movie anyway.” He noted that Warlock could appear in future Guardians films, and is considered “a pretty important part” of the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character’s future introduction is hinted at in one of the film’s mid-credits scenes.
After the film’s announcement, Gunn said he knew “a lot of where I want to go [in the sequel]”, having written the backstory of Peter Quill, his father, and his history with Yondu during the making of the first film with the intention of exploring them in a future film. Gunn said he “probably won’t structure the [sequel] in the exact same way [as the first one]. One of the reasons people like Guardians is because it’s fresh and different, so the second one will be fresh and different from the first one.” Before starting on the script, Gunn also hoped to further explore Drax the Destroyer, Nebula, Kraglin, and the Collector, and expand on Xandarian, Kree, Krylorian, and Ravager culture. He also hoped to introduce more female characters in the sequel, though wanted to avoid including “earthlings” such as Carol Danvers in order to keep Quill the main focus from Earth. Likewise, Gunn also chose not to feature Novas Richard Rider or Sam Alexander in the film, saying, “I don’t want Nova right now because I think Quill being the only earthling is important. That serves the entire movie going audience and not just the handful of Nova [and Carol Danvers] fans.”
Feige said exploring Quill’s father “would certainly be part of a next Guardians adventure…I think there’s a reason we seeded it at the very end of the [first] film like that.” Gunn also stated that he wanted to make sure “Yondu’s place in everything made sense” in regards to his relationship to Quill and his father, and also revealed Quill’s father would not be J’son as in the comics. Gunn also stated he “was less confident [Marvel] was going to buy in on Baby Groot than” including Ego the Living Planet, since “adult Groot was the most popular character from the first film and I didn’t think they’d want to risk a good thing.” However, by changing Groot, Gunn felt it “opened the film up” creatively, allowing Gunn to bring out “new aspects of our other characters.” Gunn stated that Thanos would only appear in the sequel “if he helps our story and he will not show up at all if not. Thanos is not the most important thing in Guardians 2, that’s for damn sure. There’s the Guardians themselves and other threats the Guardians are going to be facing that are not Thanos.” Feige later confirmed that Thanos would not appear in the sequel, as he was being saved for a “grander” return. When asked about how the film would connect with the other Phase Three films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gunn said, “I don’t feel beholden to that stuff at all. I think it’s really about the Guardians and what they are doing.”
Gunn set the film two-to-three months after the first film, “because he felt the group are just such fragile egos and he didn’t think this story could start years later.” Major planets visited in the film include Sovereign, Berhart and Contraxia. Feige also stated two or three other worlds would be seen, as well as “a little bit of Earth in this film, but it’s not these characters going to Earth.” In December 2014, Gunn revealed the story for the film was written, saying, “It’s [still] constantly shifting, but I feel like it’s pretty strong. I’m excited about it.” By early February 2015, Gunn said that when he first presented his idea for the sequel to Marvel they thought it was “risky”, and that he would be submitting a full story treatment to the company “in a few short weeks”. He described it as “not really based on anything” from the comics, being mainly an original story. Gunn later referred to this treatment as a “scriptment”, “a 70-page combination of a script and a treatment and it goes through every beat of the movie”. By April, he was preparing to write the screenplay, and in May he was hoping to complete the script before he began work on The Belko Experiment in June 2015.
Gunn promoting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International.
On June 2, 2015, Gunn announced on social media that he had completed the first draft of the screenplay, and that the film’s title would not simply be Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The same week, he confirmed the returns of Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Cooper as Gamora, Drax, and Rocket, respectively. At the end of the month, Gunn announced the film’s title as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, on which he said that he “came up with a LOT of titles for Vol. 2. But because ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is already so wordy, it seemed strange to add another bunch of words after it. I liked Vol. 2 the best, so that’s what I stuck on the cover of the screenplay—and, fortunately, [Marvel] liked it.”
In September 2015, Gunn said in a Facebook post that he wanted to use Sneepers, an alien race that first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1964, as background characters in the film but was advised against it by Marvel’s legal department because the name was too similar to snípur, the Icelandic word for clitoris. The Marvel legal department later cleared the use of Sneepers in the film, in part because of all the media coverage Gunn’s initial post received. At the end of the month, Feige stated casting announcements would be made “over the next few months before the end of the year”, and by the end of October Pom Klementieff was cast as Mantis. Also, Matthew McConaughey had been offered the role of the film’s antagonist, but had passed on it in favor of The Dark Tower. McConaughey felt he would have been “an amendment” in Vol. 2 in “a colorful part [made] for another big-name actor.” In December, Gunn said that he was corresponding with John C. Reilly about him reprising his role as Nova Corpsman Rhomann Dey, while Kurt Russell entered early talks to play Quill’s father. After the death of David Bowie, Gunn said that there had been discussions for Bowie to appear in the film, and that he had completed the final draft of the script. Benicio del Toro, who portrayed the Collector in the first film, expressed interest in portraying the character again despite Marvel not contacting him about the sequel; Gunn explained that the Collector “just didn’t fit” into Vol. 2. In early February, comedian Steve Agee was revealed to be in the film.
Prop master Russell Bobbitt had difficulty finding the cassette decks that had been used in the first film, and all of the Sony Walkman headsets they sourced for the sequel were broken. Sony also did not have any headsets available for filming, while three pairs Bobbitt found on eBay cost around $1,800 and were not the exact model. Bobbitt eventually created six from scratch for Vol. 2. Other props he created for the film included two sets of blasters for Quill, with removable blaster cartridges, and “steampunk-looking weapons and belts” for the Ravagers; Bobbitt explained that four different weapons were designed for the latter group, and then 15-20 versions of those were produced to be used by the various Ravager actors (there could be up to 85-95 Ravagers per scene). For their belts, the props team cut the leather themselves rather than buying existing belts, and then parts from different electronic devices such as radios and cell phones were glued together to make each belt “a unique piece of art”. The prop department also made edible props for certain scenes: a prop of a stinkbug-inspired insect was made from chocolate and injected with black honey so it could be eaten on screen and “when he bit down the honey poured out of his mouth”; similarly, a “yarrow root” was designed based on enlarged images of pollen, and then created with non-dairy white chocolate to be eaten onscreen.
Pre-shooting began on February 11, 2016, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, under the working title Level Up, with Henry Braham serving as cinematographer and Scott Chambliss as production designer. Gunn noted that many of the crew from the first film, such as cinematographer Ben Davis and production designer Charles Wood, signed on to work on Doctor Strange, and due to a late change in production schedule to a November 2015 start, were unable to work on Vol. 2. Vol. 2 was the first film to be shot with an 8K resolution camera, the Red Weapon 8K. Additional scenes were also shot in IMAX and its aspect ratio.
Principal photography began on February 17, with Marvel confirming that Russell had joined the cast, and revealing that Elizabeth Debicki and Chris Sullivan had also been cast, all in undisclosed roles. The production used all 18 stages at Pinewood Atlanta, an increase in stage space from what was used for the first film. Gunn said the sequel required more sets than the first and “our sets are very large, even though a lot of the film is CGI. I like to have as many practical sets as we can and make the environments as real as possible so it balances out the CGI elements.” Despite this, Gunn noted that there were less locations featured in the sequel, with the focus instead on being more specific and detailed with the fewer places shown. Sets constructed for the film included: several for the Sovereign planet, for which Chambliss used a “1950s pulp fiction variation on 1930s art deco design aesthetic”; the Ravager’s main ship in the film, the Eclector, which was constructed in sections to provide a complete 360-degree view of the ship as well as the ability to move sections around and portray different areas of the ship; and the Iron Lotus establishment on the “pleasure planet” of Contraxia, which Chambliss wanted to feel like it had been put together from “a whole yard of repurposed junk where old spaceships are cast away and industrial materials that aren’t of use anymore are just left to rot”, creating a “kind of neon jungle in its own way and covered in ice and snow.” Interiors for other ships were also constructed, to limit the amount of blue screen the actors had to interact with.
In April, Gunn stated that Reilly would not be part of the film, and that Glenn Close would be filming scenes to reprise her role of Nova Prime Irani Rael from the first film, though it was unclear whether she would make it to the final cut of the sequel. He added that there were many other characters he could not include in the film due to rights issues, saying that 20th Century Fox “owns so many awesome cosmic villains and minor characters that I’d love to play around with” such as Annihilus and Kang the Conqueror. When filming Stan Lee‘s cameo, Gunn also filmed two other cameos with Lee to limit the amount of travel he had to do. One cameo was used in Doctor Strange, while the other Gunn could not reveal. Additional filming for Vol. 2 took place in Cartersville, Georgia, while the Georgia International Convention Center served as additional soundstage space for the film after pre-production work for Spider-Man: Homecoming began occupying several soundstages at Pinewood Atlanta. Principal photography wrapped on June 16, 2016.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, Russell and Debicki were revealed to be playing Ego, Quill’s father, and Ayesha, respectively. Sylvester Stallone was also revealed to be in the film, with his role later revealed as Stakar Ogord. Gunn also introduced multiple actors who were playing Ravager characters, since the Ravagers have a larger presence in the film. On the decision to reveal Russell as Ego and Quill’s father when he did, Gunn felt that since “people were going to figure it out eventually… it was better that we took the reins in our own hands” and make the reveal. Gunn also felt that by making the reveal, “it sends a real important message [that] this movie isn’t about, ‘Oh my god, you’ve gotta go and find out who Peter Quill’s dad is!’ It really is about the story and the relationship that these characters have… and the emotions that transpire between Peter Quill, his adoptive father Yondu, and his real father Ego”. In August 2016, Gunn confirmed the film would feature a post-credits scene, later stating there would be five in total, with four mid-credits scenes and one post-credits, all written and directed by himself. Gunn also planned a sixth scene, seeing Gamora and Mantis come across the “mortally wounded” Ravager Gef—who had been hiding since being shot by Yondu earlier in the film—but ultimately did not include it because “it ended up being a little confusing.”
In November, Gillan revealed that the film was undergoing reshoots. That February, it was reported that the film had scored a perfect 100 in test screenings, the highest for any Marvel Studios film. The Hollywood Reporter noted, however, that although all film studios conduct test screening, generally from a random pool of people, Marvel selects its audience “from a more select pool of recruits, what it terms ‘friends and families screenings’… [And] because the Marvel testing process is not as random as other studio procedures, the 100 score for Guardians 2 is not necessarily able to be compared to other non-Marvel movies.” Producers and studio executives also “caution at putting too much meaning into test scores, pointing out the scores are best at gauging where audiences engage or disengage,” and may not reflect the ultimate reception from critics’ reviews and a wider audience, and its box office gross. In March 2017, Gunn revealed that Michael Rosenbaum would appear in the film, and that he would once again provide the dancing for Baby Groot as in the first film “in a much bigger way. I actually had to do like a full day’s worth of dancing to get Groot’s dance down this time. Last time it was me in front of an iPhone, and this time it’s me dancing on a huge soundstage and shooting it from five different angles.”
Fred Raskin and Craig Wood return from the first film to serve as editors. Discussing scenes that were cut from the film, Gunn said Nathan Fillion, who had had a voice cameo in the first film was going to cameo as Simon Williams in the sequel, in a sequence that would have shown several movie posters for films starring Williams, including films in which he portrays Arkon and Tony Stark. Gunn chose Williams for Fillion’s cameo because he “wanted to bring [Fillion] more fully into the MCU at some point, so I didn’t want to make him Arkon Guard #2, narrowing his chance of a more substantial role in the future” and could clearly see Fillion in the role of Williams. Gunn also considered Fillion’s cameo canon to the MCU, despite it being cut from the final version of the film. He also confirmed that Close would not appear in the sequel, as “I was trying to cram Nova Prime into the second movie as opposed to having it happen organically.”
Visual effects for the film were created by Framestore, Weta Digital, Trixter, Method Studios, Animal Logic, Scanline VFX, Lola VFX, Luma, and Cantina Creative. Framestore once again created Rocket and Baby Groot, as in the first film. Lola VFX worked on de-aging Russell, having previously done similar work in other MCU film; they also added to various characters including Nebula. To achieve the younger Ego, Lola referenced Russell’s performance in Used Cars, as “he had a lot of the [facial] action” the visual effects artists were looking for. They also used a younger stand in, Aaron Schwartz, since he had “big broad jaw, chin, and most importantly the way the laugh lines move[d] and crease[d] as he talk[ed]”, similar to Russell’s.
Weta Digital handled Ego during his fight with Quill, utilizing a digital double of Russell for many of their shots. Weta also needed to created a digital double for David Hasselhoff for the moment when Ego shifts into Hasselhoff’s guise. Guy Williams, Weta’s visual effects supervisor, said, “We tried morphing to a live action Hoff – but it did not hold up as well. The Kurt version looked better than the Hoff version,..and while we had built a very detailed Kurt digi-double,- we didn’t want to go to the same level on the Hoff for just two shots. But in the end we did have to do a partial build digi-double of the Hoff. The reason we did the Kurt digi-double in the first place was to make sure all the effects stuck correctly to the body… so we went with the approach of a full digi-double, the hair, the side of the face everything on Kurt. For the Hoff, we got pretty close, but it is not quite as detailed as for Kurt.” Additional work by Weta included the inside of Ego’s planet, known as the Planet Hollow, which was inspired by the fractal art of Hal Tenny, who Gunn hired to help design Ego’s environment. Gunn added that there are “over a trillion polygons on Ego’s planet,” calling it “the biggest visual effect of all time. There’s nothing even close to it.”
By August 2014, Gunn had “some ideas listed, but nothing for sure” in terms of songs to include in Quill’s Awesome Mix Vol. 2 mixtape, for which he felt “a little pressure for the soundtrack because so many people loved [the first film’s soundtrack] and we went platinum and all that other stuff. But I feel like the soundtrack in the second one is better.” By June 2015, Gunn had chosen all of the songs for Awesome Mix Vol. 2, and built them into the script. Gunn called the Awesome Mix Vol. 2 “more diverse” than the first one, with “some really incredibly famous songs and then some songs that people have never heard.” Tyler Bates had returned to score the film by August 2015. As with Guardians of the Galaxy, Bates wrote some of the score first so that Gunn could film to the music, as opposed to Bates scoring to the film. Recording for the score began in January 2017 at Abbey Road Studios. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Volume 2, along with the film score album composed by Bates, were released on April 21, 2017.
Premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made its world premiere in Tokyo on April 10, 2017, and its Hollywood premiere took place on April 19, at the Dolby Theatre. The film began its international release on April 25, in Australia, New Zealand and Italy, alongside a total of 37 markets in its first weekend, with 176 IMAX screens in 35 of those markets. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s North American release on May 5 took place in 4,347 theaters, of which over 3,800 were in 3D, 388 in IMAX and IMAX 3D, 588 premium large-format, and 194 D-Box locations. The film’s opening in China was in 400 IMAX theaters, the largest ever for the country. It was originally intended to be released on July 28, 2017. On May 4, 2017, 550 theaters in the United States had a special RealD Guardians of the Galaxy double feature event before preview screenings of Vol. 2. Guests who attended received an exclusive mini poster and a set of souvenir collectible buttons.
In June 2016, Marvel announced plans for an expanded merchandising program for the film from the original, with Groot playing a central role. Paul Gitter, senior VP of licensing for Marvel at Disney Consumer Products, said they intended to build Guardians of the Galaxy into a tentpole franchise—”As affinity and awareness for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and its characters continues to grow by leaps and bounds, we are building out a much larger merchandising program to meet the increasing demand from fans.” Partners in the campaign included Hasbro, Lego, Funko, LB Kids, GEICO, Ford Motor Company, Go-Gurt, Hanes, Synchrony Bank, Dairy Queen, M&M’s, Screenvision, Sprint Corporation and Wrigley Company. Additionally, Marvel partnered with Doritos for their Rock Out Loud campaign to create “a custom-designed, limited-edition series of Doritos bags featuring a built-in cassette tape deck-inspired player that plays” Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and can be recharged. The custom bags were available to purchase on April 28, 2017 on Amazon.com. On May 5, Doritos hosted Rock Out Loud pop-up recording booths in New York and Los Angeles, where fans could sing the songs from Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and “have the opportunity to win various prizes, including the custom cassette player replica Doritos bags, concert and other event tickets, and free bags of Doritos.” Gunn ensured the film’s female characters received more representation in the merchandise than in the first.
In July 2016, Gunn, Pratt and other members of the cast attended San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film, including showing footage and revealing additional character information. On October 19, 2016, a “sneak peak” teaser was released ahead of the first full teaser trailer. Ethan Anderton of /Film felt the teaser was strong, despite not showing any of the new characters or relying on Baby Groot, while The A.V. Club‘s Esther Zuckerman called it “an immediate crowd-pleaser”. According to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service, the teaser was the top trailer for the week it released, generating 108,000 new social media conversations. In early December, before Gunn revealed the first teaser trailer at Comic Con Experience 2016, he said that finding scenes and moments to showcase in the trailer without revealing too much of the film resulted in hard choices, since “people really go through every single little shot and try to figure out what the movie’s about. And there’s a lot of mysteries in Guardians 2.” Describing the teaser trailer, Jacob Hall of /Film felt, “It’s telling that this trailer can get away without actually selling the plot of the movie. Audiences didn’t fall in love with the first Guardians of the Galaxy because they were entranced by yet another Marvel Studios movie built around a villain who gets his hands on an Infinity Stone…the bulk of this trailer is dedicated to this group bouncing off one another, which is the real star attraction. Whatever villainous plot they have to face is secondary to Drax laughing himself silly at the expense of Star-Lord having an unfortunate psychic encounter.” The teaser trailer had 81 million views in 24 hours, becoming the second-most viewed teaser behind Beauty and the Beast and largest Marvel Studios teaser ever. Additionally, Sweet’s “Fox on the Run”, which is played throughout the trailer, reached number one on the iTunes Rock Chart.
A second trailer aired during Super Bowl LI. Germain Lussier for io9 called it “hilarious”, while Anderton said it was “one hell of a… Super Bowl spot, one that probably overshadows the game itself for people like me…. There’s plenty of badass cosmic action, the humor we all love, a stellar soundtrack, and some great new footage from the sequel.” The spot generated the most Twitter conversation volume during the game with 47,800 conversations, according to comScore and its PreAct service. The service which “measures data from Twitter volume using official hashtags from a pic’s trailer as well as other keywords intended to isolate the conversation about the film,” measured the volume of trailers that aired during the game from the time it aired through the end of the game, and was limited to conversations in the United States and Canada. The film also topped a Fandango survey as fans’ favorite film trailer during the Super Bowl. An additional trailer debuted on February 28, 2017, on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Haleigh Foutch at Collider.com felt the trailer added to the “hype” for the film and was “just an all-around wonderful trailer, lit up with the wacky humor and irreverent charm that made the first film such a hit, with an extra dose of visual splendor.” Pratt and Saldana appeared at the 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards, where they also debuted an exclusive clip from the film.
As of May 27, 2017Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has grossed $318.6 million in the United States and Canada and $431.5 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $750.1 million.
Since tickets went on sale on April 24, 2017, the film was the number one seller on Fandango, and surpassed the advanced sales of Avengers: Age of Ultron in the similar time frame. Additionally, over 80% of sales on MovieTickets.com were for the film ahead of its release. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earned $146.5 million in its opening weekend, with IMAX contributing $13 million. The $17 million that came from Thursday night previews was the highest preview amount of 2017. The film had been projected to earn upwards of $160 million in its opening weekend, with Deadline.com noting in April 2017 that the film had the potential to reach the $179 million debut of Captain America: Civil War. The film remained at number one in its second weekend, and fell to second in its third, narrowly coming in behind Alien: Covenant.
Outside of the United States and Canada, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earned $106 million in its first weekend from 37 markets, becoming the top film in all markets except Portugal, Turkey and Vietnam. IMAX contributed $5 million to the opening weekend gross. The film also outperformed the first film’s opening weekend in all markets except Belgium. In its second weekend, it opened as the top film in South Korea, China, and Russia. It was the highest opening for an MCU film in Austria, the second-highest MCU opening in Australia ($11.8 million), the Netherlands ($500,000), Germany ($9.3 million), and the United Kingdom ($16.9 million), and was the third-highest in New Zealand ($400,000), Italy ($1.4 million), and Russia ($11.6 million). The New Zealand and Netherlands openings were also the highest of 2017 for the countries, while Germany and the United Kingdom’s were the second-highest for 2017. South Korea had the biggest opening day of 2017 ($3.3 million), the biggest May opening day, the third-highest opening day for a MCU film, and the second best opening weekend of 2017 ($13.3 million). The opening weekend gross surpassed the entire earnings from the first film in the country. Ukraine had the second largest opening ever, while in Puerto Rico, the film was the largest IMAX opening. By its third weekend, multiple markets saw their gross for Vol. 2 surpass the total gross from the first film, followed a week later with China joining them. As of May 21, 2017 , the film’s largest markets were China ($94.2 million), the United Kingdom ($47 million), and Russia ($26 million).
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 290 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s action-packed plot, dazzling visuals, and irreverent humor add up to a sequel that’s almost as fun—if not quite as thrillingly fresh—as its predecessor.” On Metacritic, the film has a score of 67 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised the film as “an extravagant and witty follow-up, made with the same friendly virtuosic dazzle…and just obligatory enough to be too much of a good thing.” He cautioned that “this time you can sense just how hard [Gunn] is working to entertain you. Maybe a little too hard.” Mike Ryan at Uproxx praised the continued sense of humor and tone from the first film and appreciated Gunn’s difference in overall structure from the first film (which he compared to The Empire Strikes Back). Ryan was positive of the whole cast, and particularly Rooker in his expanded role as “the heart” of the film. Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers called the film a “blast” and gave it three stars out of four, praising the film for its tone and fun, soundtrack, and characters. He did note that “Vol. 2 can’t match the sneak-attack surprise of its predecessor…[but] the followup, while taking on some CGI bloat and sequel slickness, hasn’t lost its love for inspired lunacy. Chicago Sun-Times‘s Richard Roeper also gave the film three stars, writing, “Like many a sequel to a slam-bang, much-liked mega-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t quite as much fun, not quite as clever, not quite as fresh as the original—but it still packs a bright and shiny and sweet punch.” Roeper continued that “even with all the silliness and all the snarkiness, the Guardians can put a lump in your throat when someone suffers a serious setback”, and particularly praised the cast, especially Rooker with “one of the best roles in the movie”.
At The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 plays like a second ride on a roller-coaster that was a real kick the first time around but feels very been-there/done-that now.” Mara Reinstein of Us Weekly gave the film two-and-a-half stars our of four, stating, “not to say excited audiences desperate for escapism won’t lap up the film’s inherent joyfulness”, but “Gunn has doubled down on all his once-nifty novelties. Strip them away and what remains is a bloated semi-mess.” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times was positive of the film’s soundtrack and cast, especially Russell, but felt that Gunn was trying too hard to re-capture the magic of the first film, and that the increased scope of effects and action becomes weary. Turan concluded, “Though there are enough reminders of the first Guardians to make the sequel an acceptable experience, it’s ended up less like itself and more like a standard Marvel production.” Manohla Dargis at The New York Times said the film “certainly has its attractions, but most of them are visual rather than narrative.” Dargis also felt that Gunn was trying too hard to “fall into the audience’s embrace”, and found many elements of the sequel to be too serious in relation to the first film, though she thought Russell helped balance this by bringing a much-needed “unforced looseness” as Ego.
In November 2014, Gunn stated that, in addition to having the “basic story” for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 while working on the first film, he also had ideas for a potential third film. Despite this, Gunn stated in June 2015 that he was unsure if he would be involved with a third Guardians film, saying that it would depend on how he felt after making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In April 2016, Feige said on future MCU films, “it is still a big chess board for 2020 and beyond, but certainly I would say Guardians 3 is [one film that’s] up there. I don’t know what exactly the order will be.” In March 2017, Gunn stated there would be a third film “for sure. We’re trying to figure it out,” also adding, “There are no specific plans for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But we know unless something goes horribly—which is always possible, you never know—I think that Marvel would want to make another movie.” He also reiterated he was still unsure if he would be involved with the film and that he was going to figure out his involvement and his next project “over the next couple of weeks.” The following month, Gunn announced he would return to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Klementieff is expected to reprise her role as Mantis.