[Warning: Contains big time SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Read at your own risk. Ye have been warned!]
Ok, so this past week I went to see Guardians 2. This isn’t a review or the like. Instead, there’s a segment that I wanted to discuss. A part of the film that I really liked. Admittedly, it might just be me. On the whole, the film was overall pretty good. There’s a baseline quality from Marvel that they’ve managed to keep across all fifteen of their films so far. It’s an impressive feat where you can say that the worst of the Marvel universe is far behind it, and even at its worst, it’s watchable. The same can’t be said of some of their competition. Anyway, that should be enough general stuff to hide the spoilers below the read more on most websites.
So, anyway, if you’ve seen the film, which you should have if you’re still reading, then you know what happens. As the stories of our heroes start to reconnect, after the team split following the destruction of the Milano, the secrets of the film are revealed. We know that Ego is Peter’s father and that he has plans for Peter, but we don’t what. The first clue is discovered by Nebula and Gamora when the two discover piles and piles of skeletons. Intercut with this is Ego sharing some choice secrets. Peter was not the first child of Ego. In fact, he’s done this thing many times.
In his museum to himself, he reveals a tableau artwork of his escapades across the universe. He reveals that none of the children had the part of his ancestry that he was looking for: his Celestial DNA, but Peter does. This is the culmination of Ego’s plan. As this is revealed, the rest of the gang discover the secret of the skeletons on Ego’s planet. My guess is that they were some sort of alien race that Ego wiped out when he claimed the planet. Mantis reveals ‘they are his children’. I was still thinking in metaphors. My next theory was an old cult of Ego (There’s something to be said for being too smart sometimes). Then everything came together. Ego has been travelling to every planet across the galaxy, planting seeds, and siring heirs. He was waiting for this moment, for another Celestial to work together for his grand plan. His plan? Make everything in the galaxy Ego and his child.
There are two parts to this that I love. First, Ego works really well as the climatic villain of the piece. His relationship to Peter and the rest of the Guardians is well established. He’s a compelling villain played enjoyably by Kurt Russell. The second is that his plan makes sense. You live forever, you need something to do. Part of it is realising his grand plan. Millions of years devoted to the goal of inhabiting the galaxy. The second part of that goal is to recreate all the worlds in his image. We’ve seen a prototype for how Ego wants the whole world to be like his own planet. Peter’s totally on board with this plan at first. He sees the beauty of Ego’s plan, the majesty of a galaxy ruled by two gods.
Then comes the gut punch: Ego reveals that he put the tumour in Peter’s mother’s head. For Ego, he says it matter-of-factually. He just helped the process of dying along. Without a mother, his heirs would have nothing holding them to their old life. Peter is drawn out of Ego’s spell. Ego loved Peter’s Mum, he claims, but he still looked down on her as he does on all mortals. However, throughout these two movies, we’ve seen one thing. Peter loves his Mum. One of his major regrets in life is not loving his mother in her final moments. The first movie deals with his guilt over ‘not having been there’ for his mother in her final moments. So, Ego just casually mentioning that he’s the reason that she died is the thing that breaks Peter connection with his father.
Perhaps my favourite line in the whole movie is when Peter proclaims to Ego “Then you shouldn’t have killed my Mom and broke my Walkman”. It’s a funny line, but also a tragic one. Ego took the two things that kept Peter tethered to Earth. Ego has been thinking about his plan for so long that he forgot about people (and alien people), and how they have, you know, emotions. As Peter destroys his father’s legacy (which uses the excellent The Chain by Fleetwood Mac to perfect use), Ego asks him what is worth sacrificing immortality over. We get a montage of all the people that Peter has loved. From his time on Earth, all the way through to his beloved team members.
Being a part of a common ‘humanity’ (a humanity that includes aliens and talking racoons) is what convinces Peter of Ego’s folly. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul”. (Them’s the words of old JC there, or at least me rephrasing Matthew 16:26). It was an idea that really hit home, embracing commonality and the things we all share. We all have loved ones, we all love someone. In those trying times, let’s not forget that. Peter is given a final ultimatum by Ego: “If you kill me, and the source of my power, you’ll be just like everyone else”, or something to the effect of that. Peter has everything to lose when Ego dies. His father, his new-found power, his potential immortality. Peter makes his decision with one final declaration: “What’s so wrong with that?”.
What is so wrong with that? Look, on one level, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is just a big action movie, with a general market appeal. It’s not you know, Citizen Kane or anything. It’s not high art, but does it have to be to say something profound about the human condition? Of course it doesn’t. Now, you might not think, ‘we’re all connected’/’we’re all the same’ is some great revelation, but I reckon there are some very white men in a very White House who need that lesson taught to them.
This is what this movie said for me. In a time of division and bile, people are worthy of love. All people. Like I said, it might just be me who sees this, but I hope I’m not.
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