The signs are already looking good for James Gunn’s second foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with the movie’s most recent trailer becoming the second most watched of all time within the first 24 hours – no doubt thanks to a scene-stealing turn from a certain little anthropomorphic tree. Combine that with the runaway success of Gunn’s original Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014 and Marvel Studios will no doubt be expecting to resume their run of success, most recently continued by Doctor Strange.
Of course, with multiple movies all supposedly taking place within the same universe coming out on a yearly basis, maintaining a consistent continuity within each MCU film is an increasingly complex task. The various plot holes and inconsistencies currently within the MCU timeline are well documented and having to work within these boundaries has not always gone down well with filmmakers, with original Ant-Man director Edgar Wright eventually walking away from his project.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that one Marvel fan on Twitter – the smoothly-named @BornAGeek – asked Gunn whether having to stick to the MCU continuity prevented the director from making the movie exactly the way he wanted it. Gunn duly replied, tweeting: “I’m so out in space unconnected at this point, outside of Thanos in Vol 1, I’ve never had to deal with even a single moment of continuity.”
As Gunn points out, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s space setting does offer the movies a little more freedom than most MCU entries enjoy. Furthermore, the appearance of Thanos in the first film is undoubtedly integral to the overall story arc of the franchise as a whole – a narrative that will likely be concluded in the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War, in which the Guardians are reported to be appearing. However, Gunn’s assertion that, Thanos aside, he is unhindered by continuity may come as some surprise to those under the impression that Marvel Studios keeps a tight watch over the content of their movies.
Many fans of Guardians of the Galaxy may go so far as to argue that the movie’s separation from the rest of the MCU is part of what made the first film so popular and successful. Regardless of how good Marvel’s movies may be, the sheer amount of them – combined with the multiple efforts from other studios – can easily cause superhero burnout for many moviegoers. However, GOTG‘s intergalactic and light-hearted approach offers a break from the standard superhero fare and arguably helps keep the MCU fresher.
On the other hand, others may argue that any franchise with interconnecting movies has a responsibility towards invested fans to ensure that continuity is maintained as far as can be expected. The previously mentioned existing inconsistencies in the MCU, such as Thanos’ Gauntlet already being full of Infinity Stones and the iffy mathematics surrounding Howard Stark’s age, can perhaps be forgiven as Marvel is unlikely to have had every detail planned out in those early stages of Phase One.
However, with the franchise now as big as it is and the studio planning well in advance, any further continuity errors may not be met with quite such forgiveness, particularly with the Guardians and Avengers set to team up in the future, and despite Gunn’s comments, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will surely need to maintain some sort of continuity with the other MCU movies.