Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is only two weeks away from release! The sequel is again written and directed by James Gunn, who recently also announced he would return for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Though Gunn has never directed a sequel before, he did write both 2002's live-action Scooby-Doo and its sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monster Unleashed. I am unable to speak to the quality of that sequel though, as I've never seen it.
Our very own Nancy Tapia attended a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 junket, where James Gunn was asked about his approach to sequels in a world brimming with many that are uninspired retreads of the first:
"I wanted to continue the film from the first movie. You know, so many sequels are not good. The primary reason is, in studying them, seemed to be that so many of them just kind of do the same thing the first movie did with a different template. And so they say, "People like the dance off in the first movie, so what's our version of the dance off? People like 'We Are Groot' in the first movie, what's our version of 'We Are Groot?'" And instead of doing that, we really try to let these characters grow and change. We want to watch them become new people and different people in every film that we come up with and I think allowing them to just sort of be themselves and do their thing. I know that sounds strange because I'm writing what they say, but sometimes I'm just letting it happen inside my own imagination and letting the characters go where they wanted to go. I think the thing that I didn't want to mess up is just trying to be a rehash of the first movie. I think people were surprised by the first movie, people have been surprised by the second film and to give people something new and something different than they already have."
This is exactly the sort of thing I want to hear from a director tackling a sequel. There are obvious examples of recent sequels that were too close to the original for comfort, including The Hangover Part II and 22 Jump St. Even some Star Wars films fall into the trap of "People liked the Death Star, what's our version of the Death Star?" Sequels should feel like a continuation of the first film, but you don't want to see the same beats or the same scene done a different way. For another example, look at X-Men: Apocalypse's lazy repeat of the Quicksilver scene everyone loved from Days of Future Past. It is certainly a challenge to pull off, but a great sequel is all about this balance of old and new.
Do you think James Gunn has a point when he says a lot of sequels are bad for this reason? Or do you prefer a stronger level of familiarity? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!