One of the big key pillars of the Marvel universe has always been relatability.
While DC’s superheroes have always been set apart from humanity, standing proudly as figures to aspire to, rather than people to relate to, Marvel’s characters are, generally speaking, a little more down to earth – even when they’re floating in open space.
Peter Parker worries about money problems. Tony Stark has difficulty committing to relationships. Steve Rogers feels out of place in a rapidly evolving world. Thor has an evil adopted brother who wants to kill him and rule the universe.
Okay, maybe Thor’s specifics aren’t a good example – but his family problems certainly are familiar to anyone who’s experienced sibling rivalry.
Speaking about Peter Quill’s upcoming appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and his climactic reunion with his alien father, director James Gunn has explained the “gamut of emotions” that Star Lord will go through in the movie.
To hear Gunn tell it, Peter Quill’s character arc in the upcoming movie will sound awfully familiar for anyone who’s grown up with an absent father:
“It runs the gamut of emotions for him, wanting to understand why his father wasn’t around to quickly idolizing him and ultimately learning the reality of the relationship and comparing the man who sired him to the man who raised him.”
This emotional conflict – of both idolizing and feeling betrayed by a father, and of comparing a distant dad with other, more relevant father figures, is a very real experience for many people in the modern world.
We may not all have parents who are literally gigantic planets, but many comic book movie fans know what it’s like to feel confused and alone when a father is less than available while we’re growing up.
This is the true success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: we as audiences see ourselves reflected in the characters we cheer on. We might not have Tony Stark’s brains, or Scarlet Witch’s powers. But we know what it’s like to be so angry that we wish we could transform into an enormous green monster. We understand feeling, as Scott Lang does, that we’re trapped in a dead end job no matter how hard we try to improve our situation.
Guardians of the Galaxy is fun because it’s humorous and explosive and filled with adorable things that shouldn’t talk, but can anyway.
From the sounds of things, Volume 2 will be even more emotionally charged, as we see intergalactic supermen go through very real feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and confusion over where they fit within their eclectic family.
Also, it’s got more Karen Gillan in it, and that’s absolutely never a bad thing.