Road to Infinity War – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, or, Check Your Privilege Space Honky

Oh I did it fam. In preparation for my viewing of Avengers: Infinity War on April 26th at 7PM, I went back and rewatched the previous 18 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man to Black Panther. Every day leading up to Infinity War I’ll be posting a short piece on each film and my most recent hot takes on nearly a decade of the MCU. I’ll also be linking back to whatever old nonsense I wrote about the movies at the time, if applicable. And if that isn’t enough, check out my ranked listed of the MCU to date on my Letterboxd account here.

guardiansvol2

I always thought Star-Lord had two guns here. That second one’s just a walk man. Why would he be holding it like that? No one else can hear it. I mean hold up the headphones I guess, maybe, but c’mon Pete. This is a fool’s errand.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the most intellectually stimulating movies in the Marvel canon, second only, in my mind, to Black Panther. A huge portion of the food for thought in Vol. 2 is served up by the film’s antagonist, Ego.

Stories about dads are a dime a dozen. Even within the context of the MCU the troubled relationship with Pa is played out. But damn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a really good story about dads, patriarchy, privilege and all that jazz. At some point in our young lives we arrive at the very real conclusion that our parents are not gods. That they are people who live and breathe and screw up and feel things. In Guardians Vol. 2 however, Star-Lord learns that his father Ego is, literally, a god.

Ego is centuries of institutionalized power, of unchecked expansion, of colonialist morality. When Peter Quill finally meets his real father he isn’t just given a dad, he’s given the reigns to the sort of unearned, unnatural privilege one can only be born to.

There’s a brilliant sequence in the film in which Peter, harnessing the power of the planet Ego, is able to create a ball of energy and play a game of catch with his dad. Smiles are had, music swells and sap prevails. It is so very corny and feels so very fake.

Because it is.

Because the power Ego offers is power that must be morally excused, rationalized away within an inch of its life. It’s a power based on prolonging and withholding. It’s a power that breaks a son down into the most calculated object, a means of extending one’s own reign, of continuing to withhold power from the sprawling “them” universe on behalf of the few “us” for as long as possible.

So much of the antagonism in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is monolithic, expansive, endless conformity, be it the sprawling ranks of The Sovereign or Ego’s nearly unlimited celestial power. Peter is vigorously tempted to take up a monolithic seat next to his father, but because he’s grown up away from his father’s seat of power, away from the privileged throne of a would-be colonialist empire, he’s met and interacted with the galaxy that Ego plans to stand on top of.

He’s grown up in space, where all he was in Terran. Now someone’s come along and let him know he’s white and there’s some shit that comes along with that.

Look, all I’m saying is this is a movie in which a honky comes face to face with the realities of white privilege and ultimately not only rejecting that privilege but destroys it. I mean, in space at least. I’m sure Earth in the MCU is still super racist.

For the feint of heart, you can read my thoughts on guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from the week it was originally released, which do not contain the word “honky,” here:

May 16, 2017: Easy Ways and Hard Ways, or, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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