MCU Sequels: How do they stack up against their original films?

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Credit: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures; from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Similar to Age of Ultron, James Gunn dropped his group of unlikely heroes in the middle of a skirmish without worrying about the constraints of introducing major characters. The first scene with the Guardians brilliantly placed most of the team’s melee with a giant alien squid in the backdrop while Baby Groot hysterically shimmied to “Mr. Blue Sky” in the foreground.

This opening also showcased the quasi-leadership of Star-Lord, the perpetual banter of Rocket Racoon, the sternness of the deadly Gamora, and Drax’s inadvertently hilarious one-liners.

The second volume furthered the familial themes of the first, primarily with Star-Lord and his father and secondarily with sisters Gamora and Nebula. Pairing up Yondu and Rocket allowed those tough exteriors to bounce off each other and that left Drax and Mantis’ opposite personalities to converse awkwardly yet amusingly.

After Lee Pace terrorized the galaxy as the militant Kree leader Ronan the Accuser, a change to a less assuming bad guy was in order for the sequel and Gunn boldly chose to adapt Ego the Living Planet, embodied by Kurt Russell. However, delegating the leads to Ego’s planet for a majority of the plot hindered them from experiencing as wide a range of eccentric interactions compared with the original.

The more episodic structure of Volume 1 actually served the story well, and while #2 still had plenty of character growth, it packed less of a punch. Part of the reason why the first is better is circumstantially because the inherently outrageous qualities were more surprising and invigorating the first time around.

On the bright side, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ended with the most entertaining credit roll of all-time. As the cast danced to an original jam performed by David Hasselhoff, viewers played “spot the ‘I am Groot’” sprinkled around the credits that turned into names of crew members.

And every few minutes Gunn gave us another stinger scene. Some offered additional amusement, while others clued us in on what to expect in Volume 3… more of Starhawk and his Ravagers and a storyline based around Adam Warlock.

Next: Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ranking all 18 movies after Black Panther

Looking forward to the Ant-Man sequel, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing if it landed somewhere around the quality spectrum of Guardians Vol. 2. It would definitely be difficult for it to come close to the top of the list when it comes to MCU sequels, so we can at least hope that Ant-Man and the Wasp is just as good, if not better, than Ant-Man.