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Marvel pulled off an amazing feat in 2008 when it began forming the first shared movie universe, modeled after the expansive continuity that Marvel has built over decades. Other franchises, from DC to Star Wars, have since followed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's footsteps since then, but just because a movie is set in a cinematic universe doesn't mean it's strictly bound to major events that have happened in said universe elsewhere. In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy and its upcoming sequel, director James Gunn said he's barely had to worry about continuity because of their cosmic setting.
Answering a fan question on Twitter about whether adhering to MCU continuity has affected making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie exactly the way he wants to, James Gunn stated that with the exception of including Thanos in the first movie, he's never had to deal with such a problem. Well, there was also how the mysterious Orb ended up being one of the Infinity Stones, but other than that, Gunn is correct. Because these adventures take place elsewhere in the galaxy, what's going down on Earth isn't a concern. The Guardians don't care about HYDRA or the Civil War conflict. They have their own problems to handle.
While having a cinematic universe is fun, especially for longtime comic books fans, it can also feel overwhelming. After 14 movies across eight years, there are a lot of MCU events from Earth to remember. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies provide a respite from all that. There are a lot of other planets for Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot to get in trouble on. That makes James Gunn's job a lot easier, as he can solely focus on making a story that, while reasonably (not completely) faithful to the comics, doesn't need to be burdened by what's happening on Earth in the MCU. That said, since the Guardians are expected to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, there is a chance that Gunn had to include a scene or line of dialogue at least to set up their appearance in that blockbuster event.
Set a couple months after the first movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will follow the main heroes trying to keep their unusual family together while they learn more about Peter Quill's parentage, specifically who his father is. The movie will also bring Yondu, Nebula and newcomer Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff) into the superhero team. Some of the sequel's other important players include Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface and Kurt Russell as Ego.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be released on May 5, 2017.