Though it's not universally adored (somehow), James Gunn's follow-up to the first big surprise in the MCU is a brilliant achievement. It is entertaining, emotional and balanced perfectly between spectacle and moments of reflection, and it advances the individual stories of the Guardians (and their new friends and foe) while still committing to their spirit as the MCU's most beautiful rogues.
The stories of the sequel are hugely entertaining, tying up not only the mystery of Peter Quill's paternity, but also the fiery friction between Gamora and Nebula and Rocket's worrying commitment to being a douche-bag. And they work precisely because of the generous way Gunn writes and frames his characters.
It is on their shoulders that the film soars, and when the memory of each spectacular scene begins to fade, it is likely to be their gags, their moments of joy and devastation and their heartfelt exchanges that will live on.
But which of the Guardians colourful cast of heroes, anti-heroes and outright villains comes out on top?