A talking raccoon and a living tree were the biggest hits at the box office this year. Let that sink in a minute. Now ask yourself if you think there’s anything Marvel Studios can’t turn into a massive hit.
But that was just the first step for this fledgling franchise. The real story will be in the sequel. But where should it go from here and what kind of costs are likely involved? Should it start playing ball with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or just keep doing its own thing? Will Groot be more than a sapling when we see him again?
There are lots of possibilities for this including some pretty exciting developments for long-time Marvel fans. However, there are some ideas and characters who probably won’t be showing up anytime soon and that’s likely to cause yet more uproar on Twitter. But Nathan Fillion is still totally playing Richard Rider, right?
Money grows on (Groot) trees
After the huge success of Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn will likely get a boost in funding for the sequel. And why not? He’s proven he can turn out a hit and then some. There’s also the need to make things bigger the next time around.
Guardians was produced for around $170 million and grossed over $770 million worldwide, so a sequel costing around the $200 million mark seems plausible. And with all the world traversing the first film did, you can expect more of that for the sequel, I’m sure. More sets, more post-production effects and likely some other big-name stars are going to make their way into this corner of the MCU. That budget has to go up.
But what if the first movie was a fluke? It’s not likely but, just for the sake of argument, what happens if the sequel doesn’t work or if it flops? The answer is…not much, really.
The benefit of this film series working largely on its own is that, if it does start to fail, it can be severed from the larger whole without much notice. Sure, it has a Thanos connection and could open up other possibilities for the MCU in the future, but GotG doesn’t absolutely have to be its own movie series in order to make those things happen. Thanos appeared at the end of The Avengers, long before we even knew there was going to be a GotG movie.
After one major success, if the next film were to not workout, the characters might still appear in other places as the actors involved likely have multiple-picture contracts. With GotG being so successful on its own and James Gunn steering the ship, it can maintain its lose ties with the larger MCU and still work out well. If Gunn were to suddenly be out of the picture, the concepts and characters might get folded into the larger whole much faster in order to keep them relevant and/or to prepare audiences for a possible soft-reboot/sequel under a new director. But the chances of that are slim to none and the sequel is likely to take in as much or a bit more than its predecessor. If the characters get any kind of role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, GotG 2 might put up $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
There’s part of a plan
But to make a GotG sequel work (along with subsequent presumed sequels) there has to be a good story. We didn’t get much of a villain in the first film, mostly because the story was supposed to focus on Peter Quill and the rest of the GotG crew. James Gunn did a fine job of that and gave us new characters to care deeply about. Ronan as a villain was never meant to be more than a one-movie concept anyway.
While the next villain hasn’t been announced yet, we know that James Gunn isn’t being forced to set up Avengers: Infinity War with his sequel and is largely playing in his own cosmic sandbox. We also know that he plans to deviate away from comic book source material when it comes to the identity of Peter Quill’s biological father. If J’son of Spartax isn’t Peter’s father in the film version, who is? The popular rumor is for another Marvel cosmic fan-favorite to step in: Adam Warlock. I think it’s possible and would provide an interesting connection to Thanos and the Infinity War, but since Gunn keeps trying to distance himself from the larger Avengers tapestry, it’s also a hypothesis with some holes in it.
From the end of the first film, we know that Yondu Udonta and his band of space pirates had something to do with Peter’s abduction from Earth, but they didn’t bring him to his dad as ordered. We can certainly infer that Michael Rooker will be back for the sequel and his part will get expanded on, I’m sure. Whoever Peter’s dad is, he’s not going to be happy about certain developments. Yondu is likely going to be a little miffed with Peter over switching the Power Gem out for a Troll Doll, too, but there’s still a quiet respect between them so it’ll likely just make for some fun banter.
Nebula escaped at the end and will likely be back in the sequel, but her Thanos connection might be a lot weaker this time. We also know that James Gunn isn’t so keen on Nova or introducing another Earth human to the mix when this story is supposed to be about Star-Lord. So, sorry fanboys, Nathan Fillion will not be suiting up as Richard Rider. In fact, Rider likely won’t be in the movie at all. That doesn’t mean the rest of the Nova Corps won’t make a return, though. They do have possession of one of the Infinity Stones (Power Gem) after GotG ended and Thanos does need that for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Something is bound to happen with that, even if it’s all in post-credits.
Given what we’ve seen of the Kree in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the fact that Ronan was part of the Kree Empire at one point, it’s likely we’re going to be seeing the larger scope of that species in GotG 2. What might be really cool is if The Skrulls were able to be worked in, but the shape-shifting alien enemies of the Kree are partially owned by Fox due to the Fantastic Four deal. It’s not impossible, but it’s a long shot. Red tape really can ruin a good time.
Hooked on a feeling
Audiences are ready to love this franchise and Disney/Marvel is certainly ready to take our money, so let’s hope everyone gets to go home happy with this movie.
All evidence so far points to a team that absolutely knows what it’s doing, so there’s little to worry about in terms of quality. The only real issues could be if one or two actors decide they don’t want to be part of this anymore or if there are scheduling conflicts. It would be a tragedy to lose any one of the current cast for any reason.
But, with everyone seemingly onboard with multiple sequels and a fresh hit on its hands, Disney/Marvel have to be riding high right now. I mean, taking a bunch of virtually unknown characters and putting them all into a single movie together with no prior knowledge and making it palatable in a way for general audiences to not only get it but love it is no easy task. But that’s exactly what James Gunn did. Where The Avengers took a few years to set up, GotG took the shorter route and showed that you don’t have to use a ton of backstory so long as you have a GOOD story. Oh, and fun characters with a pretty fun script and soundtrack.
Every little bit helps, right?
Opens May 5, 2017. Subject to change, of course
Come back next week for a breakdown of Thor: Ragnarok