What are the fundamentals of a superhero movie? Let’s start with the villain, his rancorous destruction of the world and its denizens, and the inevitable duty to halt their demolitions. Next comes the superhero himself, wealthy with extraordinary skills and ensuing responsibilities. With him comes also his identity, his minor team of assistants, his misfortunes and love stories, and his moral code.

What, then, distinguishes an ordinary superhero movie from a Marvel superhero show? For starters, it has to be the insanely dazzling actors they appoint as their characters. Then, perchance, is the singularity they associate with each actor and character. Next, plausibly, are the beneficial settings; the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly a marvel of its own. And their storylines, as impossibly fictional as they are, remain real in their troubles.

Two years ago, came the excitingly refreshing story of a bunch of – well, aliens. They were quirky and original, and came in a cluster to ensure the unhindered success of its franchise. The best explosive for a winner superhero movie is a crew of them. And away from the annihilation of Earth (because the Avengers could manage it here), this team managed to make their space in our hearts. Their stories were told, but so much remained unsaid. This seemed to be the prime drive behind Gunn’s sequel, where this motley of intergalactic misfits returned with quite a big bang. Where the first movie focused on bringing the squad together and the reasons behind it, its successor was more occupied with keeping them together. Volume 2 gave each individual their own space to grow (especially Baby Groot, who rockets ahead of everybody in his growth).

The film works precisely as its star cast does: erratically oriented, but gravitated together. There is the pair of sisters, who finally make up (‘Frozen’ style), and Rocket the talking racoon, whose insecurities shine brighter than ever before. Drax’s everdestructive anger seems to have set, and Yondu with his wicked whistlearrow, steals his fair share of sunshine this time. And Peter Quill’s solemn daddy issues make the Star Lord more human than he ever appeared. There were few elements original to this installation, like the disturbingly innocent Mantis and the exceedingly enchanting Ego, and the new ‘Awesome Mixtape’ that seemed a personal indulgence of Gunn.

The visuals, action scenes and dynamisms have come a fabulous way. And Marvel hid their Easter eggs throughout for fans to hunt, from the enthusing cameos to the everawaited credits. The villainous Ayesha glimmers close-by and Stan Lee returns with his shenanigans.

But the movie remained unerringly a middle film; it drifted in the same metagalaxies as its predecessor, but became more a shuttle leading from the past to the next movie than a star system surviving on its own. It orbited around the strengths of the first – often, a little too close – and on the surprises of the next. Gunn played the bombshell of the Star Lord’s progenitor well, but seemed to have forgotten the notion of foreboding.

Gunn’s sequel proved successful but just exactly the way the spaghetti your mother made yesterday does: it’s the same star recipe, but you know the Earth’s been round its axis at least once since it was made.

Ex-Mahadevi Birla World Academy