Features and Columns · Movies

12 Movies to Watch After You See ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

Continue the fun with some slightly relevant recommendations.
By  · Published on May 10th, 2017

Continue the fun with some slightly relevant recommendations.

These days a lot of blockbusters wear their influences on their sleeve, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is no exception. You’ve also got explicit references to ’80s pop culture like Knight Rider and Pac-Man and Heather Locklear and implicit yet very obvious nods to certain movies that all of its fans ought to recognize. If not, that’s what these lists of recommendations are for. That and to suggest enjoyment of some historically important predecessors directly or loosely relevant to the movie you’ve just watched.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Yeah, Mary Poppins, ya’ll! Disney’s musical adaptation of P.L. Travers’s books is one of the best-spoken pop culture references in Guardians Vol. 2, and of course, there’s some synergy in that it’s a classic from the same umbrella studio as the Marvel production and happens to have a sequel currently in the works. Unfortunately, that sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, has Emily Blunt in the title role instead of Michael Rooker. As for the original, starring Julie Andrews, damn right it’s cool.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)

A third of this list consists of part twos, with half of those being direct influences on writer-director James Gunn. He told Uproxx, “The Godfather: Part II was in my mind simply because it took the first movie, built upon it, and let the characters change and grow and didn’t just repeat itself. And I think that any sequel where they’re not just repeating the structure of the first movie was an inspiration.” Also, family is a big theme in both movies.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This is the other part two that inspired Gunn, and it’s the more blatant. From the paternal adversary to the way the characters are split up to the asteroid field sequence, which Gunn acknowledges to Uproxx is “the next-level,” Guardians Vol. 2 is clearly the Empire of its franchise. Gunn also admits it “was in my mind a lot as a model.” Of course, there’s also still some of the first Star Wars (sad death of hero’s mentor) and Return of the Jedi (cute kid-friendly toy-selling character) in there, as well. Another sequel that Gunn has named as an inspiration is a part three: The Bourne Ultimatum.

Used Cars (1980)

Released two months after Empire, this comedy from Robert Zemeckis features Kurt Russell (who auditioned to play Han Solo in Star Wars) at about the age that Guardians Vol. 2 magically makes him look in a flashback. Russell’s Ego is also kind of like a slick used car salesman in his attempts to seem like a nice guy and recruit Peter (Chris Pratt) for his scheme. Interestingly enough, Russell claims in a new /Film interview that he and Zemeckis discussed the eventuality of digital recreations of actors while making Used Cars.

Follow That Bird (1985)

An underrated Sesame Street spinoff that’s about as fun as any old Muppets movie, Big Bird’s big screen showcase follows the character as he abandons his pseudo family to be with his own kind and that plan backfires terribly. And like Peter, the yellow-feathered icon gets to realize that he’s had a real “family” all along. Both Follow That Bird and Guardians Vol. 2 pay homage to the crop duster bit from North by Northwest, too.

Overboard (1987)

Here’s another movie starring Russell as a conniving character, this time a guy who lures someone into his home and gets her to be his slave in the name of family (and hi-jinx). There’s some parallel between what Ego does with Peter and what Russell’s character in Overboard does to this woman (played by Goldie Hawn) but the latter maintains a very sexist narrative by not having her destroy him, preferably from the inside out. Maybe the remake will get it right. As for other appropriate Russell movies, you should also check out Tango & Cash, with Guardians Vol. 2’s Sylvester Stallone, and Tombstone, with Rooker.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Another sequel that’s arguably better than the original yet is also just too different for such comparison, this Gremlins follow up ramps up everything we liked about the first movie including the adorableness of the plush-toy-fodder known as Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel). There’s no denying Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is the modern day equivalent of that lovable Mogwai, right down to the characters’ mutual love of dancing. Gremlins 2 and Guardians Vol. 2 also each has its own silly cameo from an ’80s icon.

Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)

Speaking of Guardians Vol. 2’s ’80s icon, David Hasselhoff is no stranger to Marvel movies. He starred as the titular eye-patched character (who was still white back then) in this TV movie scripted by none other than David S. Goyer (Blade, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Batman Begins, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Sure it’s terribly cheesy, last of the pre-millennium pack of embarrassing Marvel adaptations, but Hasselhoff is awesomely bad as Fury, and he gets some superb B-movie lines. The movie is also still more enjoyable than much of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

Awesome and cheesy are two words I’d also use to describe this Japanese monster movie, which comes to mind when thinking of giant villainous creatures being destroyed from the inside. In a kind of mirroring of Drax’s attempt to kill a beast from within at the beginning of Guardians Vol. 2, the gang later wind up taking a kind of Fantastic Voyage into the Innerspace of Ego’s planetary body in order to kill him. In GMK, Godzilla is, spoiler alert, finally taken down by a submarine he swallows whole.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

One more excellent part two, much better than the original, and it’s a comic book adaptation that should have been as popular as the Guardians movies. Guillermo del Toro follows up his own Hellboy with a more fantastical and fun approach to the world of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense that similarly offers up an orphan hero from another world (Ron Perlman) who loves oldies. Plus it features a giant monster attack, useless mechanical drones created by a sovereign race, and as a good deal of background slapstick.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

This adaptation of the TV spy series, in which teamed-up characters bicker throughout, also does the backgrounded comedy thing well. It also co-stars Guardians Vol. 2’s Elizabeth Debicki in a much more interesting and exquisite villain role. Why turn her into a golden alien when she already looks like she’s been genetically engineered for perfection? More movies should be using her this well, preferably costuming her in vintage ’60s clothing.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

In my list of movies to see after the last MCU movie, Doctor Strange, I recommend Kung Fu Panda, which is pretty spot on as far as basic plot parallels go. Now we’ve got Guardians Vol. 2 seeming like a live-action remake of Kung Fu Panda’s second sequel. You’ve got an orphaned goofball leader of a team of distinct warriors (voiced by Jack Black) whose long-lost father shows up and takes him to a utopian place in order for him to learn his full potential. This being an animated feature for kids, the biological father doesn’t turn out to be evil or turn on his son. And neither he nor the adoptive father wind up dead.

Related Topics: , , ,

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.