The release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is fast approaching, meaning things are about to get shaken up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kurt Russell is now part of the roster as Peter Quill’s father Ego. Sylvester Stallone is joining the fray in a role we aren’t about to spoil here. And if reactions to early screenings of the film are anything to go by, Pom Klementieff steals many of the scenes she’s in as another new character, Mantis.
But we reckon the sci-fi sequel’s secret weapon is Yondu – played by Michael Rooker. Yondu was a supporting character in the first film, but one that we think will shine second time out. For the following reasons…
Yondu is Now Part of the Team, Kind Of
Yondu's role has been expanded in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He set the action in motion in the first film, kidnapping Peter Quill from earth then deciding to raise him rather than hand the boy over to his father, Ego. But aside from saving the Guardians late in proceedings, and killing a bunch of Sakaarans in pretty spectacular fashion, he's absent for much of the rest of the movie.
Not so for Part 2. From his prominent placing in the poster to multiple appearances in the trailers to expanded scenes in early footage screened for critics, it's clear the character has a big part to play in the sequel.
Indeed, if the above Super Bowl trailer is anything to go by, he's now part of the team, with Rocket even saying to Yondu 'Welcome to the friggin' Guardians of the Galaxy."
However, rather than being a fully fledged member, Rooker says it's a bit more complicated than that, telling ComicBook.com that Yondu exists in more of a "grey area." He adds: "A little grey area is always fun to do," and we reckon fun for Rooker means trouble for the rest of the Guardians.
Michael Rooker Rules
The guy who plays Yondu is one of the most interesting and unpredictable actors working today. Rooker made his name in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (watch that one if you dare) before carving out a career as a jobbing character actor cropping up on shows like CSI, Chuck and Las Vegas, appearing in films like Cliffhanger, Mallrats and The Bone Collector, and being ever-so-slightly bonkers in interviews.
Then two things happened.
Rooker met James Gunn, who immediately spotted and embraced his unique talents. The writer-director cast him in the brilliant and criminally underseen Slither, and a beautiful friendship was born. Gunn used his buddy in superhero satire Super and twisted video game Lollipop Chainsaw. Then offered him Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, which ended up being a match made in heaven.
During this period Rooker also landed the role of Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead. The zombie-drama became a global phenomenon, and part of its success was down to the audience's love-hate relationship with Merle, and his own messed-up relationship with brother Daryl. Now the world could see his talents.
So more Michael Rooker can only be a good thing. He keeps Yondu's intentions ambiguous so the audience never quite knows what side he is on. And he lends the character a dark, malevolent humour that has you disturbed by his one-liners at much the same time you're laughing at them.
Yondu is a SERIOUS Badass
In order to keep Peter and raise him as his own, Yondu betrayed Ego, who is a LIVING PLANET. That's pretty badass, and will doubtless lead to tension between the pair in Vol. 2. Suggesting Russell and Rooker will be going toe-to-toe.
In the first film, he also had a little red stump on his head, which has now been replaced by a big red mohawk more in-keeping with the look of the character in the comics. Which is also pretty badass.
And you know that spectacular kill we mentioned before? Well, it involved taking out an entire army by whistling. That's because Yondu's weapon of choice is a Yaka Arrow, which he controls via sound waves and uses to pierce the brain and/or vital organs of his enemies. He even takes out a spacecraft with that whistle. And it doesn't get more badass than that.
Making Yondu pretty much the most badass character in the Guardians flicks. And meaning we can't wait to see where the story takes him next.