Major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 follow.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set out to be different from its predecessor in a number of ways. While the first film was beloved by fans worldwide, it achieved such adoration by telling the story of a bunch of cosmic misfits making all of the right mistakes in an effort to save the galaxy.
Three years later, the team is together again taking on a much more personal threat to the universe but it was a surprising star who stole the show, offering a huge (and surprising) amount of heart: Michael Rooker in his portrayal of Yondu Udonta.
Rooker debuted as Yondu, the leader of a pack of Ravagers in 2014’s original Guardians of the Galaxy. Having snatched Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill from Earth back in the 80s and raising him rather than delivering to his father, the character of Yondu never earned the rightful amount of depth in the first outing of the Guardians as the film’s balance did not organically allow it. Sure, he looked cool painted blue and had a fun, witty attitude and powerful arrow controlled by a whistle, but he never had the chance to stand out like the worldwide breakout star Pratt.
Then comes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Rooker’s Yondu is all but the centerpiece of the film which, at times, felt like a Michael Rooker movie that the rest of the cast happened to be a part of. This isn’t because the other characters didn’t have compelling and important arcs. This is because Rooker poured a genius portrayal of a anti-hero space outlaw onto the screen, which is largely thanks to what James Gunn’s genius script offered the part.
Following Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, one thing is clear for Hollywood: it’s time to start taking Michael Rooker seriously.
Through his iconic delivery of the “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” line in the film’s third act, his monologue with Rocket which culminated to, “I am you!” and the emotional sendoff he provided for the film’s finale, Rooker walked up behind Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and even Kurt Russell to steal the movie from right under their noses.
This is hardly the first time Rooker lent his impressive, scene stealing ability to a project.