Why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ is the Most Emotional Superhero Movie Ever

Chris Tilly
Movies Marvel
Movies Marvel

Comic book movies love to tug on the heart-strings. Amidst the action and adventure, there’s normally a moment of pure, raw emotion that grounds proceedings, reminding audiences that the stakes are high and superheroes don’t always win.

They can come in the form of the death of a loved one, from Bruce Wayne‘s parents to Peter Parker‘s uncle, to both Clark Kent‘s Dads. Alternatively, the end of a relationship can be tough, with the likes of Mary Jane Watson, Rachel Dawes and Jean Grey breaking superhero hearts. And sometimes they even kill off an actual superhero, with Kick-Ass, Watchmen and Captain America: The First Avenger all putting the unthinkable onscreen.

But we reckon Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might be the most emotional superhero movie yet, featuring scenes like the aforementioned, plus a whole bunch more. So these are the moving moments that had us blubbing into our collective handkerchiefs.

And as we’ll be going into plot detail, BEWARE OF SPOILERS AHEAD

Daddy Issues

Kurt Russell as bad dad Ego.

The Fast & Furious movies keep telling us they are about ‘family.’ But Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 expertly tackles the subject without drawing attention to the fact. With his mother dead and his father MIA, Peter Quill is pretty much an orphan, raised by Ravagers for a life of crime. So it comes as sweet relief when Peter’s real father finally shows up. Ego – played by Kurt Russell – is funny, charismatic, and full of promises to make up for lost time by being the father Peter never had. He even offers him god-like powers. But it’s all a lie. Ego is simply using Peter as part of his plan to take over the universe. Worse still, Ego reveals that he gave Peter’s mother the cancer that killed her. Shocking, heartbreaking stuff.

Yondu’s Journey

Michael Rooker as the now heroic Yondu.

Yondu is pretty much Peter’s adopted Dad. He frequently claims that he only kept the boy because Quill could squeeze into small spaces to steal. But in Vol. 2 he reveals that there’s much more to it. Yondu realised that the children he was kidnapping and delivering to Ego were for that aforementioned plan, and so keeps the boy to protect him. He grows to love Peter for real, so much so that during the film’s devastating finale, Yondu sacrifices himself to save his adopted son. The funeral that follows is even more moving, Yondu being given the beautiful Ravager send-off he was told he’d never receive earlier in the film, and leaving not a dry eye in the house.


Karen Gillan as sister-loving Nebula.

Gamora and Nebula are sisters who were brought up to hate each other. Their father Thanos made them regularly fight each other, and each time Gamora defeated her sibling – which was regularly – Thanos replaced a part of Nebula’s body with a piece of machinery. So it’s no surprise there’s no love lost between the pair, with Nebula particularly keen to kill her sis. During Vol. 2 they start to bond however, with Gamora pointing out that Thanos has probably damaged girls all over the universe. In turn, Nebula realises she has been directing her anger at the wrong target, the pair share an emotionally charged hug, and Nebula vows to honour those Thanos has hurt by killing him.

Bullied Baby Groot

How could you harm that face?

Baby Groot is one of the best things in GOTG Vol. 2. A toddler tree, he’s sweet and innocent and immature, so much so that the audience feels as protective of him as the Guardians themselves. So it’s deeply upsetting watching Baby Groot being bullied and taunted by the Ravagers. And at times hard to watch.

Emotional Mantis

Pom Klementieff as Mantis.

Mantis – the newest Guardian of the Galaxy – possesses great powers of empathy. Which are put to hilarious use when she reads Peter’s mind and reveals his feelings for Gamora. But as well as experiencing people’s desire and joy, she can also feel others’ pain. So when Mantis touches Drax, and experiences what he felt when his family was killed, it’s agonizing for her, and harrowing to watch.

Love, Finally

Lovebirds Peter (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

There’s something unspoken between Peter and Gamora. We know it’s love, but they can’t admit it to each other, with Quill preferring to punctuate any hint of romance with something inappropriate. But they are drawn ever closer during Vol. 2, most notably when Peter confides in her about his missing father. And while those feelings remain resolutely unspoken, their actions speak louder than words, so when Gamora puts her arm around Peter at the end of the film, the audience – and the star-crossed lovers – know what it means.

Rocket’s Tear

Rocket, not crying.

Yondu and Rocket Raccoon spend most of the movie at odds, winding each other up, arguing, and frequently on the verge of coming to blows. But as proceedings progress, they realise they really aren’t so different. Both their lives have been miserable – Rocket created in an experiment, Yondu sold into slavery. Which has made them untrusting, the pair doing their damnedest to upset others so no one gets close. “I know who you are, boy,” Yondu says to Rocket, “Because you are me.” Rocket understands that too, which makes the tear he sheds at Yondu’s funeral all the more moving.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.
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