Source: Marvel Studios

Looks like yesterday’s Super Bowl spot was just the beginning of a full-fledged marketing push for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The embargo has been lifted and the reporters who were invited to the set last year are not sharing their reports. Here are some of the most interesting notes shared from the set by Fandango, /Film, and Comicbook.com.

In the beginning…

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Drax (Dave Bautista)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place just a few months after the first film. The team’s reputation precedes them after taking down Ronan (Lee Pace) and saving Xandar. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is individually famous for being able to palm an Infinity Stone and live.

The team is hired by the people of the planet Sovereign for some intergalactic pest control. The Sovereign people need the Guardians to remove that giant, squid-like monster from the trailers (the Obelisk) because it’s got an appetite for batteries and is literally consuming the planet’s power source. The Guardians’ reward: Nebula (Karen Gillan), whom the Sovereign have captured and will hand over to the Guardians so that she can face a trial on Xandar.

It will be the audience’s first chance to see the Guardians function as a team in the new film, but that doesn’t mean there will be much cohesion on display. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) decides to keep a couple of batteries recovered from the Obelisk for himself, which quickly turns the Sovereign people from the Guardians’ employers to their enemies. Whoops!

 

There will be (at least) two enemies.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2017

The good news for the Guardians this time around is that the entire galaxy may not be at stake. Instead, they’re going to have to worry more about sticking together (more on that soon) and saving their skins. Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) is the leader of the Sovereign, a species that has engineered itself to be perfect and possesses all of the arrogance that comes with it.

When the Sovereign feel disrespected by the Guardians, Ayesha seeks vengeance and enlists help. She hires the Ravagers, who are no longer willing to follow Yondu’s (Michael Rooker) lead on being nice to Quill and his team. Taserface (Chris Sullivan) usurps control of the Ravagers from Yondu and becomes the film’s second big bad.

Taserface (Chris Sullivan), source: Marvel Studios

What’s clear from these reports is that the stakes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are going to be more personal, but not necessarily smaller. They may not have to save an entire planet blowing up, but massive destruction isn’t the only way to create large stakes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

The Guardians will go on a break.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, L to R: Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2017

Writer/director James Gunn sums up what the second film in his hit franchise is about and how it compares to the first.

“The first film is about becoming a family, and the second film is about being a family.

“Part of the meta-arc of the movie is what’s going to happen to the Guardians family? Are they going to stay together? So there is a big split that happens relatively early in the movie, and whether they’re going to get back together or remain as a family is, very much, one of the [film’s] big plots, or themes.”

That split probably have something to do with Rocket snatching a few batteries for himself and causing the Sovereign to turn against the Guardians. It’s possible that Rocket is being subconsciously self-destructive with Gunn pointing out that the not-a-raccoon isn’t used to belonging to any group for any length of time, let alone an adoptive family like the Guardians.

“This is really about Rocket coming to terms with accepting his place within a group of people, which probably seemed like a good idea for two seconds when they were getting along and saving a planet. And now he’s just not very comfortable with the idea of being a part of this group.”

One person Rocket is comfortable with is Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) even if their roles are reversed. Rocket is now the larger protector of his former arboreal muscle. Last year’s Hall H presentation at Comic-Con showed Rocket and Groot teaming up with Yondu during a Ravager mutiny, so the unlikely alliance probably forms while the Guardians are split up.

Not to kill the suspense, but the Guardians are going to end up back together with an even bigger family thanks to Yondu and a couple of other new recruits.

 

We will get to know Gamora and Nebula a lot better, but we won’t see their “dad.”

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Nebula (Karen Gillan)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Fans hoping for more on the relationship between sisters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula are going to get their wish. Gillan expands on what we will learn about Nebula and her sister.

“We learn a lot about their backstory and what happened to these two girls growing up, and how awful it was for them; how it’s ruined their relationship. And they’re sort of going to freely talk about it, which has never happened between these two people.”

Saldana was happy for the extra time devoted to the characters.

“When it comes to her relationship with Nebula, I appreciate what James Gunn did.  He definitely heard what the fans were saying. To see this relationship extensively unfold and see what they’re about, and through their relationship you’re getting a closer idea of what Thanos is really about.  I think it’s really interesting to open up that window, and he certainly has with this sequel.”

Though we will learn more about Thanos (Josh Brolin) through the sisters’ past, Gunn reiterates that The Mad Titan is not actually present in this film like he was in the first.

“First of all, it’s about two sisters. It’s not about the sisters and their father. It’s about two sisters and what were the sisters’ problems with each other. And yeah, some of those things were caused by being raised by the ultimate abusive father, but it really isn’t about Thanos, and frankly I just wasn’t inspired to put him in the movie.

“I kind of go with my gut on these things and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t the most fun part of the movie last time for me, and I just didn’t really want to do it this time. And again, the relationship with Thanos has nothing to do with it. It’s not about their relationship with Thanos. It’s about their relationship to each other. That was interesting to me and I thought that was important to our story, and that was important to our characters. There’s a lot of stuff that happened in the past that affects our characters presently.”

 

Mantis could steal the show.

Source: Marvel Studios

Two of the newest Guardians are familiar faces, but one is making her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is ready to take the world by storm. Chris Pratt has a lot of faith in his new co-star.

“Pom [Klementieff] is somebody who will be on your radar for the rest of your life after this. She is crushing it. She’s so unique and I feel like she was totally born to play Mantis.”

Gunn echoes those sentiments while describing how Klementieff earned the role.

“I think Mantis is as odd and strange as Pom is. And I think she is an incredibly unique character. And to be auditioning Asian actresses was awesome. Truly, we screen-tested four actresses who all four of them were totally incredible. It’s just Pom happened to fit the role the best, but it was a really amazing experience. And honestly, truly, an example of there’s a lot of actors out there who don’t get the opportunities of these lead roles that a regular white dude does.”

Klementieff describes her character’s abilities, which are precisely what we saw in the first teaser trailer.

“She feels things, you know, by touching people. So she can feel things and change emotions.”

Producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige explains how Mantis enters the story and how she forms a fast friendship with an established Guardian.

“She comes into the story along with the Kurt Russell character, and doesn’t know the other characters and doesn’t know much of the world. She never really encountered other people and other humanoids before, and [she] makes Drax look like the most world-savvy person there is.”

Drax (Dave Bautista)  and Mantis are able to relate to each other through their shared inexperience in dealing with other people. Speaking of Drax, Bautista is happy to have a larger role with even more to do this time around.

“I think that he’s just more prominent in this film. I think James really found such an amusement to Drax—an amusement for writing for Drax. Which is great for me, and he may have developed a bit more faith in me as well. I was still kind of the new guy on set with the last film. I kind of pulled my weight, and he’s developed even more faith in me, so he’s written for me more.”

 

Star-Lord meets his dad as he effectively becomes a father

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Drax (Dave Bautista)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Peter Quill is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, effectively making him the father of this new family. It’s a responsibility he has to deal with whether he’s ready for it or not, as Pratt explains.

“He definitely feels a responsibility; feels like he’s a leader, but it’s still a group of misfits. There’s still a lot of fun to be had there. He certainly doesn’t have mastery on how to be a leader of this group, but I think he feels like the leader of this group at the beginning of this.”

The best example of a father Quill has is actually Yondu, the leader of his own band of misfits—The Ravagers—and the man who raised Quill (in between threats to eat him). Yondu’s status as a father to Quill is not lost on the once little Star-Lord, according to Pratt.

“I would say Star-Lord kind of finds himself caught between two father figures.”

The second of those father figures is Quill’s biological father, Ego (Kurt Russell). A living planet who’s taken the form of a man, Ego seems to be the one who comes looking for the Guardians after hearing of their famous adventures. Gunn describes the role of Ego as tailor made for its star.

“He really is a lot like Kurt Russell. So, he’s a very interesting guy, and he’s a very thoughtful guy. And I think he’s a very gregarious guy. We get to see Kurt Russell in his full glory expressing himself!”

For Quill, he’ll have to figure out just who his father is and how to deal with that answer, explains Pratt.

“You get to find out who he hopes his father is and who he wishes his father is, and whether or not that is the reality.”

 

A couple ingredients in the new Awesome Mix

During the set visit, reporters learned that Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” which you heard alongside last night’s Super Bowl spot, and George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” are part of Awesome Mix Vol. 2. The new mixtape will featured beloved classics like its predecessor, but also a couple tracks that many audience members have never heard.

 

And finally, this film doesn’t directly tie into Avengers: Infinity War

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2…The Milano..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

As a big cosmic adventure that will be released 364 days before another big cosmic adventure, many continue to assume that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will lead directly into Avengers: Infinity War. That simply isn’t going to be the case. Gunn has been pretty clear about the Guardians franchise not being subservient to The Avengers or the rest of the MCU and Feige is backing him up.

“I always say, all the movies, Civil War is a standalone story about that, but that fit into it. This is even more of a standalone story than that. This is about the characters. This is about their evolution as heroes, as their own internal family, as the group, a group of characters known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. You know, the way this film ends, and the team at the end, will inform future things, but there’s nothing that nods directly towards it.”

Keep in mind that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t the last cosmic adventure in the MCU before Infinity War. The role falls to Thor: Ragnarok, which will still be a standalone story in its own right, but might leave a few threads that can be more readily tied to the next Avengers film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is in theaters May 5. For more on these set visits (and there’s plenty more), please see the links at the top. Below is a gallery of behind-the-scenes images from Marvel Studios, via /Film.