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In Guardian's of the Galaxy Vol 2, Peter Quill has the opportunity to finally meet his biological father, a god aptly named Ego who has plans to take over the entire galaxy and destroy all other life forms until only he remains. To put it simply, he is a bad dude. And at the end of the movie, Yondu, the blue alien who kept Quill instead of taking him to his biological father, helps save the day, essentially becoming a guardian of the galaxy. There is then a number of touching moments where Quill talks about how in the end, he was a great dude and was, in reality, his father because he raised him.
Now, this is all well and good, and in the moment I was feeling it. That is, until my girlfriend told me after the movie that she had mixed feelings.
"Why?" I asked, curious. While I did think the first movie was better, this one still had it good moments.
"Marvel loves to glorify bad dads. I knew they were going to do it, and I was right," she replied.
We didn't talk about it much after that, but it got me thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right, and that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is the perfect example of that, for a number of reasons.
Yondu kept Quill for his own good (something explained in the movie that is too complex to get into here). However, he doesn't explain that to Quill. He tells him that it is because he is able to fit into small spaces. He also often threatens to eat Quill, which he says was a joke, something that Quill did not get as a child.
While Yondu did likely save Quill's life at a young age, he was still a shitty "dad" figure. He essentially emotionally abused him. He told him the only reason he was kept around was because he had use, and then (jokingly) threatened to take his life should that use no longer be of service to him. That is manipulative, abusive behavior 101. Yet, by the end of the movie, Marvel is hoping that have manipulated the audience's emotions enough that we forget all about that and just feel lovey-dovey and sad that Quill lost Yondu.
Furthermore, the only reason Yondu is seen as a good dad figure is in relation to the extra shitty dad figure hell-bent on destroying the world, Ego. In comparison, Yondu is a great guy. Sure, he was emotionally abusive, but at least he didn't try to kill the universe and have Quill help him in doing so. However, playing the comparison game isn't healthy either. It is also part of manipulation 101. If you need to compare someone to an even worse human to find their worth, then they aren't that great a human. But again, Marvel is banking on the thought that we will buy into the emotional moments at the end and side with Quill, thus forgetting about all the crap Yondu put Quill through.
Finally, Yondu was literally hunting Quill and the rest of the guardians down for those weird gold people. Sure, in the end he turns it around and works with the guardians, but he still starts off ready to turn Quill in without a second thought. He is not a great dad and lacks the unconditional love and protective nature one would hope he has. But then again, Yondu isn't a great dad. He is a bad dad that is glorified in order to make the audience cry and in the hopes that we forget how terrible he is. Marvel has done this before, and they will likely do it again. I only hope that they realize how harmful this rhetoric can be and put a stop to it soon.