How Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 helped me process my dad's illness

guardians of the galaxy
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

This week sees the release of the long-awaited movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3., the final chapter of director James Gunn’s MCU trilogy. Because of that we already knew it would be an emotional ride, something which reviews have now confirmed describing it as the “saddest” Marvel movie yet. It’s news that I was hoping for but also quietly dreading - and that’s not just because I sob at most movies (when they tell you to bring the tissues I come prepared with stacks of them), it’s because I have a close connection with the previous movie, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. It's a film that is often described as one of the weaker MCU entries, something I disagree with as it had such an impact on me.

One of the many beautiful things about cinema is the strange way sometimes a film arrives at the perfect time for you, making it almost feel like the universe made it that way. For me, this happened six years ago with the second Guardians movie and it’s a day I remember well. Just as the work day was finishing off I got the call from my mum that my family had long been waiting for - a suitable donor had come up for my dad’s needed organ transplant and the operation was happening that night. It was a moment we had all been waiting for since he had fallen ill but something that was also surrounded by an air of trepidation as it is such a big operation.

Father and son

guardians of the galaxy ego

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Unfortunately, it was too late for me to make the trek via train to the hospital he was being sent to, so the decision was made that I will make the journey the following day. So, what was I going to do that night to take my mind off the fact my dad was undergoing a life-saving operation, one of the toughest times my family has gone through? Well, it so happened that I had tickets for the midnight screening of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 that was opening that night. After some hesitation, my boyfriend and I decided to still go ahead and see it - I’d probably be up all night worrying anyways and hey, maybe some light-hearted Marvel fun is just what I needed!

And that’s exactly what I was given during the opening scenes as Baby Groot adorably danced around to Mr. Blue Sky and Drax delivered the humor with his fantastic one-liners. However, soon enough it became clear what the film is really about - dads! As Kurt Russell’s Ego introduced himself as Peter’s father and we dived deeper into the themes I could feel my boyfriend next to me starting to stress as surely this is the worst possible film for me to be watching right at this very moment.

Admittedly I too started to worry, panicking over where these storylines would go and how it would affect me. Would I be able to make it to the end credits? However, instead, the opposite happened as I discovered that Guardians 2 was actually the perfect movie to help me through this difficult time. This may surprise you given that Ego is a terrible father who ends up being killed by his own son although rightfully so - the line "it broke my heart to put a tumor in her head" still shocks me upon every rewatch, the cruelty of it. 

"But he wasn't your daddy"

yondu guardians

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

For me, the film is more a celebration of fatherhood as it looks at the bonds that form between dads and their children despite differences or difficulties. At the heart of the story is Peter’s relationship with Yondu, played brilliantly by a returning Michael Rooker. Through his encounter with Ego, Peter learns that he has actually always had a father in Yondu, someone who has been there for him through thick and thin, even though it might not always feel that way. Yondu too also realizes what Peter means to him, as whilst he would always say he kept Quill as "he was skinny so could fit into places we couldn’t, good for thieving", this was just an excuse as he didn’t want to admit that he loved the boy like his own son. In his last scene, Yondu finally opens up about this as he sacrifices himself to save Peter, telling Quill: "He [Ego] may have been your father but he wasn’t your daddy. I’m damn lucky you were my boy." Cue me sobbing into my jumper, mascara running down my face.

That tender moment between Yondu and Peter, realizing what they mean to each other despite their battles, helped me not only reflect on my own relationship with my dad, but come to terms with what was happening to him. Sure, my dad may not have a flying arrow or go on kick-ass adventures (well, none that I'm aware of), but just like Yondu he is "pretty cool". That is until he reads this and embarrasses me of course… but that’s just what dads do!

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is in UK cinemas on May 3 and in US cinemas on May 5. For more on the movie, you can read our interviews with Chris Pratt and the cast. To see what's next for the MCU, check out our guide to all the upcoming Marvel movies and shows on the way.

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.