Due to my funny work schedule and penchant for off the cuff laziness, I didn’t go to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as soon as I would have liked. I would go on about my conflicted opinions on the institution of cinema but this article is about the movie. And I have now finally seen it.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved something that not a lot of film franchises have done before. They have created a level of consistency with their films that people like myself find themselves safe in the knowledge that I will end up seeing the next installment. It’s been almost ten years since the release of Iron Man and they’ve had me in a sleep hold since then. Even when a film falls slightly short of amazing. I find it adds something to the larger tapestry that is the M.C.U.

The Guardians movies have gone one step beyond that, however. They have added an extra dimension to a franchise that arguably became too much about one thing, The Avengers. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a group of ragtag space adventurers with all the visual extravagance of the Thor movies and all the charm and likeability of Firely.

My initial feelings when the film began was that of elation. I was so happy to see the characters that I grew to love in the first film and it had been too long since the last time we were together. The opening sequence reminded in a polished and entertaining fashion exactly why the Guardians were as missed as they were. Baby Groot, the group’s newest(?) member gave us a much-needed warming of the heart.

After the initial wonder was done with, however, I found myself a little bit at a loss. The plot didn’t seem to reveal itself in the way that I would have liked there were sizable chunks of time when I was quite unsure as to whether there was a plot at all. The double-barreled game of plot tennis was played betweens the group’s run in with a narcissistic race of beings named The Sovereign and the sudden appearance of Peterquill’s estranged father, Ego. After a while, everything falls into place and I was faced with a very heartfelt story about fatherhood that seems to clean up a lot of loose ends left by the first movie.

Narratively, the biggest merit I can bestow upon Guardians Vol. 2 is its ability to stand alone as a franchise all on its own while still being a massive part of the M.C.U. Anyone could watch these films without even knowing who Thor or Black Widow is and still enjoy themselves. And seeing as not everyone who goes to see the films is a comic book fan or a 26 year-old man-child with a obsession, this is very useful for people who simply just want to enjoy a film with their kids.

Of course, I would recommend that watch this film. It’s funny, extravagant and full of the same character that we all grew to love in the first film. We were even treated to an emotional conclusion to an arch that we didn’t even know we wanted. whether or not we will see the Guardians again in their own adventure is anyone’s guess. But it’s fair to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a Marvel film that will solidify its place in the MCU as one of its best properties.