12. It's A Shamelessly Self-Indulgent Sequel
Though Vol. 2 is certainly on the higher end of MCU sequels to date, it's also probably the most unabashedly complacent and self-indulgent follow-up in the entire franchise.
James Gunn clearly felt confident after the success of the original 2014 movie (rather understandably), though in Vol. 2 this transpired into a film that felt comfortable mostly just replaying its predecessor's greatest hits with some intermittent variations.
From the (undeniably enjoyable) opening musical action sequence onward, there's a weirdly smug, self-satisfied tone to much of the movie, where it feels like it knows exactly how to manipulate the audience, excessively relying on popular music in particular. Could the use of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" have been any less subtle during Yondu's (Michael Rooker) Ravager funeral at the end of the movie?
It's more than just the music, though. The characters generally feel a little more like caricatures of themselves, wantonly cracking jokes, whereas the first film derived humour more from the characters' personalities rather than them constantly trying to make funnies.
That's to say nothing of the insane number of cameos - Sylvester Stalone! David Hasselhoff! Miley Cyrus! - nor the absurd five (!) credits scenes.
Is it a fun, even highly entertaining film? For the most part, absolutely. But it's also guilty of filmmaker over-confidence, and pandering a little too cynically to what audiences responded to the first time.