Warning: This is an article about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so spoilers are ahead.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 caused tears to stream down my face. It wasn't the kind of crying where you dab at your nearly overflowing eyes to dry a little moisture; it was full rivulets of salty tears down my cheeks sorta crying. My eyes leaked because I laughed so hard (in fact, I laughed so much I almost threw up during the opening sequence, but that's besides the point) and because I was moved by the emotions expressed by everyone—from Star-Lord, to Nebula, to Yondu.
I've seen criticisms about the sappiness of the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. I've seen people say they don't think comic book movies should have so many Feelings, capital F (these people apparently don't watch television series like The Flash). I've seen one criticism in particular about how more of these emotional revelations should have been shown rather than spoken. But what's so bad about showing and talking about feelings?
Nothing. The answer is nothing. Emotions were shown and told in Guardians, and that's important.
Emotions were displayed in little moments like everyone gently holding Baby Groot as he crawled from person to person during Yondu's funeral, or when Mantis experienced Drax's pain about his family and started crying. They were verbally shared in scenes like Nebula confessing to Gamora that she wanted Gamora to be a sister rather than a combatant to be defeated, or Peter realizing and then telling everyone why he had a cool dad all along. This group of flawed, fractured characters was able to heal and become closer because they talked through their shit.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was about bringing together a group of misfits to form an unlikely alliance. The "we'll stick together long enough to get out of this mess" turned into something more with Groot's, "We are Groot." The group of a-holes bonded. They connected because they were all discarded or distraught. Family, or a lack thereof, pushed them together.
The Guardians have become a more solid group in Vol. 2. They have their own jokes, they know each other better. They're all part of the group parenting effort to watch and raise Baby Groot (I volunteer to babysit!). They're a family. And you know what? Families are messy, emotional beasts—beasts that need to vocalize what they're thinking to each other to avoid festering problems. If Feelings weren't part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there wouldn't have been a payoff to what was built in the first installment.
As far as a glut of heart-tugging speeches... We've all consumed media where we've found ourselves saying to an inanimate page or screen: "For the love of all things holy, would you just talk to each other?"
Because while getting hairy issues out in the open might not solve a problem, starting a conversation is an infinitely better option than keeping it repressed. If you don't talk, someone else is going to make up his or her own narrative about what you're thinking, and that rarely ends well. Use your words. Tell people what's on your mind.
Some characters in this film haven't always been open. Yondu was trying to protect Peter by not telling him what a tool his father Ego was. He knew that was a mistake. By wearing his vulnerability on his sleeve with Rocket Raccoon, he was helping impart lessons he learned the hard way. Nebula committed to vengeance against Gamora instead of sharing her feelings. While they're not going to be the best of friends anytime soon (or ever), the sisters made progress because Nebula finally said why she was upset. Could some of that have been conveyed through action? Sure, but it was more meaningful because these characters were open, brave, or desperate enough to put the words into the air.
I like seeing heroes punch villains in the face. I like watching them trade ridiculous jokes and insults. And I like watching them talk about love, anger, sadness, and family. Character growth can happen in the middle of battles, but the good stuff happens in conversation.
What are your thoughts on how emotions were handled in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Tell me in the comments.
Images: Marvel, Tumblr/Adriana