The Guardians are back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it is one fun rip-roaring thrill ride. It is both hilarious and surprisingly emotional, though it does not soar to the same stellar heights of the last.

The cast brings the same charisma and chemistry of the orginal. The cinematography and color palette are gorgeous.  The music is fantastic and provides more emotional depth than the previous film. Michael Rooker gives a standout performance as Yondu.

This film however is not perfect. The plot is weaker than the last, a few jokes fall flat, and the pacing lags at times. That being said this is still an incredibly fun movie to watch. I highly recommend seeing it on the biggest screen you can find.

Spoilers follow….

Watching Guardians 2, I was struck by the theme of family. At one point Nebula screams “All you do is yell at each other. You’re not friends.” Drax responds, “No… We are family.” The Guardians are a motley crew of misfits who have become a family. While dysfunctional in many ways they still love and sacrifice for each other. This is the same story of the Bible. God has always been in the business of taking the misfits, the outcasts, the oddballs, the ostracized, and the broken and turning them into family. The Church displays the Gospel when it gathers as a diverse group of strangers and becomes a loving family. How we love each other as the family of God is meant to point people to the Gospel’s truthfulness and beauty.

All the Guardians suffer from family and father issues. Peter Quill had an absentee biological father, and was raised by a surrogate who was anything but perfect. Gamora and Nebula were raised by an abusive father. Drax is a father in grief over the loss of a child. Rocket Raccoon was biologically engineered. Mantis was raised by a man, who treats her as nothing more than a useful pet. Yondu was sold into slavery by his own parents. And on top of this Groot is a baby being raised by this rabble.

Guardians offers hope. Being a family is more than something biological. Family is about loving and sacrificing for each other even though they are flawed, broken people.  Yondu in sacrificing his own life for Peter offers hope of redemption, repaired relationships and the possibility of a loving dad.

Guardians pokes and prods some of our deepest desires: our longings to be known and belong, our longings to be provided for and protected, loved and accepted. In Jesus and the Gospel story we find fulfillment of these deep desires. We find the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who give of themselves for us.  We discover a perfect father and a new and eternal family, having brought together not by biology, but through union with Christ. We discover a hopeful story that is alive and inviting. Those who believe are adopted as children of God. Those abandoned, maligned, and scarred by their earthly fathers, now become sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father, who loves extravagantly and never forsakes.

“Guardians pokes and prods some of our deepest desires: our longings to be known and belong, our longings to be provided for and protected, loved and accepted”