This article has been updated to incorporate news about Sylvester Stallone’s character.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director James Gunn has hinted at giving us the unexpected – and seeing the Guardians take risks – in the upcoming sequel to the mega-successful Marvel Cosmic film.
He is, in effect, promising a very different movie from the first. New worlds, new characters and new challenges are all on the table. As well as Baby Groot, of course, who is bringing a whole new dynamic to the party. We’ll also hopefully see the groundwork laid for opening up the Guardians' world and bedding them into the wider MCU ahead of their appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.
But just what surprises might the new Guardians of the Galaxy film have up its sleeve for Marvel fans?
Stallone is Stakar?
Sylvester Stallone’s role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been kept a closely guarded secret ever since it was announced that he’d appear. But it has now emerged – via official production notes for the film according to press who have seen them – that Stallone will play a character named Stakar.
There was speculation previously about Stallone playing the role of Stakar, but it seems this is now confirmed. So who is Stakar?
The film’s director, James Gunn, has previously said that Stallone’s role is a “very important” one, and not just in this film – he also says he’s important in terms of the wider Marvel Universe. So that could well mean we see the character recur in future Marvel films.
Gunn recently told Sci Fi Now, “He’s primarily a very important character to Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, who is honestly one of the stars if not the star of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. Vol. 2 is as much Yondu’s story as it is anybody else’s and so his relationship to Sylvester Stallone, which in a way is another sort of fatherly relationship, is a part of the overall story.”
Stallone is quoted by GamesRadar as saying that Stakar and Yondu meet again after 20 years and “have a confrontation which is pretty intense”.
There is some internet chatter around the character also being Starhawk – a member of the Nova Corps – the intergalactic police organisation we encountered in the first film. This would be consistent with the comics.
It seems that Stallone’s character may well have been adapted for the screen, however, as what both Gunn and Stallone are quoted as saying about the character differs significantly from the comics. So while we may know a little more about Stallone and his role in the film, there’s still plenty to discover – including whether the character is set to be a good guy or a baddie.
March 9, 2017 – James Gunn recently hinted that Baby Groot will hold more surprises than simply being a young version of the fully grown Groot we know from the first film.
A fan on Facebook asked the Guardians director whether Baby Groot is an entirely new Groot or whether he still has the memories of the previous Groot, and Gunn responded: “He does not have Groot’s memories.”
With that in mind, we can expect to see a Groot with no recollection of his previous adventures with the Guardians. How this will manifest itself remains to be seen. But it could cause problems.
We can tell from footage that’s been released that he’s certainly going to be a handful. We’ve seen him testing Rocket’s patience during the scene where he tells him not to press the button, and James Gunn has described him as "a little jerk". Gunn has also said that this new infantile version of Groot is “an idiot” and “not very smart”. All this should make for a pesky – but no doubt adorable – little sapling.
A More Powerful Star-Lord
The first film introduced the characters that make up the Guardians of the Galaxy, and showed us how they came together. We learned a little about some of their origins – for example, Gamora and Nebula's backgrounds were fleshed out more thoroughly than other characters as their stories impacted more directly on the events of the film.
It wasn’t until the end, though, that we found out Peter Quill’s father was an alien of some description. His mother hinted at it on her deathbed in the film's opening scenes, referring to him as an angel composed of pure light, but everybody assumed she was being metaphorical. The end of the film is the first time Quill himself finds out that he isn’t fully ‘Terran’ (an earthling) too.
This means that although Quill, as Star-Lord, was able to display some impressive fight skills, weapon handling and high-tech gadgets, we didn’t see the full extent of his capabilities. At least, for the majority of the film. Though we did get hints that there's more to come. That he is able to hold an infinity stone – for as long as he does – without any lasting damage suggests he’s extremely powerful.
We’re looking forward to seeing Quill discover the full reach of his powers in GOTG2. While the comic bestows on him peak human prowess combined with some of the powers of his Spartoi father, who knows what he'll inherit from his planetary father in the film. No, Quill doesn't have two fathers – just a different dad in the film to the comics, more of which below.
This leads us neatly onto Star-Lord Senior. James Gunn has spoken publicly about the decision to diverge from the comic books on this point – and it’s known that Peter Quill’s dad will be revealed as Ego the Living Planet in GOTG2. In the comics, J’son, a Spartoi emperor, is Peter’s biological father.
But what had been kept concealed is what Ego the Living Planet would look like, and whether he would take planet form, human form, or both in the film. We now know that he will definitely appear in human form, but will we see him in his planet incarnation?
We've known that Kurt Russell is playing the character for some time, and that a Funko figure of Ego in human form is available. Gunn posted a picture of the Funko figure on Instagram (above) a while back with the caption: “Not a screenshot but close. Kurt Russell in human form as Ego the Living Planet”. An Ego figure in Russell's image from the Marvel Legends Series was also previewed by Hasbro at the New York Toy Fair.
And then, of course, we saw the character in the most recent Guardians 2 trailer, which premiered on Jimmy Kimmel on February 28. But will we actually get to see Ego transform from planet to human, or vice versa?
Gunn has said that the film will explain how the character was able to father a child with a human partner – meaning that in addition we can look forward to some hilariously awkward conversations around that.
It’s likely that in meeting his father, Quill will gain a better understanding of his powers and learn more about his mother’s relationship with this strange being. And, in turn, so will we.
Who is Sylvester Stallone?
It’s no secret that Stallone has been cast in a role in the film. There are rumours that he’ll appear in a cameo as a Ravager but Gunn has said that his part is important. That doesn’t mean it won’t be small, of course. Perhaps he’ll be introduced as a character to be expanded in the cinematic universe at a later date – in Thor: Ragnarok or Avengers: Infinity War perhaps.
But what about this theory? Kurt Russell, who plays Ego the Living Planet in the film, appeared alongside Stallone in classic 1980s actioner Tango and Cash. They played a pair of mismatched cops framed for murder.
It would be amazing to see Russell and Stallone riff on this frosty relationship for GOTG2. In the comics, Ego has a brother planet named Alter Ego. Both were created by a character called The Stranger, who gave Alter Ego to The Collector – seen in the first film portrayed by Benicio del Toro. The Stranger's plan was to one day set them against each other to see which of the two was strongest.
Perhaps we could see Stallone as Alter Ego. They could start off as rivals then end up buddies…
Lots of Easter Eggs
There's a heap of Easter Eggs in the original film – many of them concentrated in the Collector’s museum, which is housed within a celestial body known as Knowhere. These include Marvel references – Dark Elves from Thor: The Dark World and Chitauri from The Avengers as well as Howard the Duck.
There are also Easter Eggs relating to the wider world of film – one of the parasites from Slither, James Gunn’s first movie, is in there, as well as a disputed sighting of Yoda. There's even an Easter Egg that Gunn claims remains undiscovered. It’s safe to say there are likely to be plenty more hidden within GOTG2. Gunn has even said as much.
Other Marvel Characters
The presence of any of the cinematic Avengers in GOTG2 may be looking highly unlikely, but what about other Marvel characters? Producer Jonathan Schwartz has hinted that a few characters will help out the Guardians along the way and it looks like Yondu is set to join as an official member of the Guardians by the end of the film.
In the comics, Guardians members have included Moondragon, Starhawk, Venom and Adam Warlock, among others. There is lots of internet chatter about Adam Warlock featuring, especially since his cocoon has been identified as one of the artifacts in the Collector’s museum in the first film. We already know that Mantis, a one-time Guardian in the comics, will appear.
In a recent Facebook Q&A, James Gunn was asked if he could take one character from Marvel not currently in the MCU and have that character join the Guardians, who it would be.
His response? “Well, I COULD do this so I don’t think I’d be serving anything by telling you.” This sounds like a big hint to us that there are other Marvel characters we haven’t seen before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe joining.
During the same Q&A, he said his favourite non-MCU characters are Moon Knight and Squirrel Girl. He has also said he would like to do a Moon Knight movie. Some of the characters linked to the Guardians and Marvel, however, aren’t available because of rights issues which automatically rule them out.
Gunn also said that he’s thought of bringing every character who has ever been a Guardian into the movie, and that includes Adam Warlock. He’d also like to see Kingpin from TV’s Daredevil crossover with the Guardians.
Finally, there are rumours that Beta Ray Bill, rival-turned-ally of Thor and one-time Knowhere resident, could appear ahead of possible appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. Gunn posted a picture of himself holding Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, way back in June – in the comics, Thor and Beta Ray Bill tussle over it. Beta Ray Bill also features in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon mobile game.
Interestingly, Tony Goldwyn, who stars in the upcoming James Gunn-scribed and produced The Belko Experiment, recently revealed he has a small role in GOTG2 and was told by Gunn that he might be back in 3. We don't yet know the character he plays.
James Gunn has been pretty open about what is and isn't in store, but he's definitely still holding some key cards close to his chest. We'll just have to wait and see when the film is released.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is out on April 28 in the UK and May 5 in the US.