For the most part with this series, I’ve chosen not to do much in the way of critical analysis, opting instead to commit fully to bit of this just being pedantic nonsense (mostly just because there’s no way I can tie any of this back into some grander statement; it’s all just dumb bullshit). The exception was the entry on the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, where I took a hard left turn at the end to get on my soapbox about how much these movies mean to me and vent my frustrations about Disney’s panicked, reactionary decision to fire James Gunn following attacks from bad-faith actors.
So, I guess it’s fortuitous timing that this series has now gotten to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on the same weekend Disney has chosen to (finally) do the right thing and reverse that decision. This is hugely surprising and hugely gratifying news as it serves, on a macro level, as a rebuke against mob tactics perpetrated by the alt-right and adjacent hate groups like ComicsGate and GamerGate, but it’s also important to me on a personal level because I love these silly movies with all of my heart and the level of personal passion Gunn has poured into them makes them stand head and shoulders above almost any other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In other words, good job, Disney. What took you so long?
Anyway, there’s no easy segue here, so let’s just jump right back in with the dumb nonsense.
Rule #1: Only the movies are canon.
Rule #2: Title cards are always true.
Rule #3: References to dates in spoken dialogue are always true unless they conflict with rule #2.
Rule #4: Written dates that are prominently displayed in the world are usually true, unless they disagree with rules 2, 3, or each other.
Rule #5: Props and background objects that can be tied to a specific date almost never count.
Like with the first Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s not actually a lot to talk about with regards to the timeline here. We get all the relevant information right up front and everything else is so separate from the other stories, nothing else helps us date anything. So once again we’re going to be fact checking Peter’s catalog of Earth pop culture even though that doesn’t matter at all, but my format demands I make a full article out of this. Them’s the rules.
Anyway, the movie opens with the 1972 Looking Glass song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” This song comes up multiple times in the film and serves a hugely important narrative function, but for our purposes, 1972 is both before the 1980-set prologue as well as Peter’s 1988 abduction, meaning he’d have had plenty of exposure to it prior to leaving Earth.
The 1980 prologue is also significant because it’s heavily implied that this is when Peter was conceived. Assuming this is summer of 1980 (y’know, to match the song), that would put Peter’s birth some time in early 1981.
We then jump forward 34 years from 1980, putting us in 2014 – sometime after the events of the first movie. It’s never clarified exactly how much time has passed, but I think the safe assumption is at least a couple of months (long enough for Groot to grow from a sapling into his current form). But even that’s not super useful in nailing down the timeframe since we don’t know when in 2014 the first movie happened, so it’s a few months after an unknown date.
In the opening sequences of the film we get both ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” as well as Aliotta Hayne’s Jeremiah’s “Lake Shore Drive” from 1977 and 1971 respectively.
Peter and Gamora discuss Peter’s affection for the show Knight Rider and its star David Hasselhoff. The show premiered in September of 1982 when Peter was probably not watching a whole lot of television, but more significantly, it hit syndication in 1986, when a fatherless, five-year-old Peter might have been entering Kindergarten.
Next up, we get a pair of songs from 1977 (“The Chain” and “Southern Nights”) along with George Harrison’s 1970 solo effort “My Sweet Lord.”
We get to learn vaguely how long Ego has been around, as an immortal Celestial (or Eternal in the comics), ego has been around for millennia and presumably could have continued to exist for millennia more had the events of this movie not transpired.
Playing from backups of Peter’s music, Rocket selects the 1964 Jay and the Americans song “Come a Little Bit Closer” to underscore his and Yondu’s escape.
Back on Ego’s planet, Peter and Gamora dance to the 1962 Sam Cooke song “Bring It on Home to Me” while Peter explains the “unspoken thing” between Sam and Diane in the 1982 show Cheers (which hit syndication in 1987).
Peter’s imagined statue is, of course, a mishmash of 1980s references from the 1980 arcade cabinet Pac-Man, to Skeletor of the 1983 cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, to Heather Locklear – most likely known by Peter from either her role in the 1984 film Firestarter or her role on the ABC prime time soap opera Dynasty that lasted from 1981 through 1989.
Before the Sovereign fleet arrives at Ego, we hear Silver’s 1976 song “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang.”
And, of course, there’s the most quotable pop-culture gag in the film, referencing P.L. Travers’ famous character first published in 1934, but in this case referring specifically to the 1964 film produced by Marvel Studios’ parent company.
Peter listens to Cat Stevens’ 1970 song “Father and Son” on the circa 2006 Zune left to him by Yondu. It’s worth clarifying that Kraglin mentioned Yondu picked it up from a junk trader – Yondu himself probably hasn’t been back to Earth since abducting Quill.
Finally there’s Cheap Trick’s 1978 song “Surrender.” This one almost doesn’t seem diegetic as it plays over the start of the credits, but it then transitions into the first of the film’s many credits sequences where it plays underneath Kraglin learning to use Yondu’s arrow (the subtitle appears way before any of that, though, so you’re getting a black screen with this one. Sorry).
Like I said, this one’s pretty straightforward. The movie establishes its timeline right upfront and nothing in the film ever contradicts it. There’s not even any weirdness like the “Shiny blue suitcase” line from the first movie. It all just works.
Next week, though, is the big one. The one that supposedly breaks everything. Spider-Man: Homecoming. We’ll see how bad it really is.