Before Wonder Woman landed with her sword, shield and truth-inducing lasso, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was well on its way to becoming the highest grossing movie of the summer. It is still a massive blockbuster, banking $388 million domestically with a total cume of $861.9 million. That monster of a movie is just the latest smash from Marvel Studios and is out now on digital formats, DVD and Blu-Ray.

The action picks up soon after the events of Guardians of the Galaxy with our renegade heroes serving as for-hire heroes when no one else has the will, muscle or brains to do the job. They are protecting a high value asset of a gold-skinned group of aliens known as The Sovereign. Our story truly gets going as the Guardians successfully protect some highly sought after batteries that attracted the worst kind of interstellar scum. As they prepare to depart those high on themselves group of aliens, it becomes clear that our favorite feisty raccoon, Rocket (voiced again awesomely by Bradley Cooper), has in fact stolen some of those batteries.

That immediately has our rebel heroes fighting off an armada of Sovereign ships whose only goal is to see them destroyed. Out-numbered and out-gunned, it appears to be it for the Guardians when help arrives from out of nowhere.

Actually, it is not completely out of nowhere as it is the person that Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star Lord, has been searching for his whole life. Yup… it is his papa. It is Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell, killing it in his Marvel Studios debut. Quill heads off with his newly found father, as he seeks to know more about his dad. Meanwhile, Rocket and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel again provides the vocal work for the cuter than can believed infantile version of the agricultural ass kicker) stay behind and repair their ship that was badly damaged in that death-defying escape.

Two things happen by separating our quintet. We get to see Rocket be as slyly surly as ever while Baby Groot is introduced as one feisty foliage. Off following Ego, Star Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) discover things about the galaxy and themselves that will permeate throughout all of their collective existences. Just as The Empire Strikes Back scored points for dividing the rebel alliance across the galaxy, so too does “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in that it allows character development to happen at a more rapid rate as well as give insight into these characters from a deeper well than if they had simply taken on another adventure as a group.

While at Ego’s home, the gang meets Mantis (Pom Klementieff). She has a gift of being able to see deep into an individual’s soul and discover their deepest secrets (something that will come in handy), but this servant to Ego is the only one who can get this living God to sleep. She assimilates effortlessly into the Guardians group and her introduction is another example of the sublime screenwriting of director James Gunn.

Yondu (Michael Rooker), Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and their band of Ravagers also play an enormous role in this installment, even more than the first film and it is a welcomed, enjoyable and action-packed increase in screen time for all. Sylvester Stallone’s Stakar Ogord also too is introduced and too seamlessly joins this world.

It’s the rare sequel that can succeed by adding so many new characters, expanding roles of familiar faces and further deepening our understanding of the central characters. Again, James Gunn proves his mettle for movie magic and we could pen another 1,000 words on his brilliance as a director. Let’s just say there is no better soul to be ushering the Guardians into and through the MCU.

Guardians 2 is just as much of an enjoyable journey as the first film, but yes, the newness factor and all that that brings is gone. But, that’s inherent to any sequel of any size and scope. Knowing that going in, it helps and allows the viewer to focus on the plot, Gunn’s world building and in turn gives audiences a different movie experience.

Before we get to the bonus features, it has to be stated that yet again Gunn has crafted a soundtrack, via the Mix Tape Vol. 2 that works on many levels. Certain songs move the plot forward at the most and at the least, provide a feel/sentiment for a scene before a character does or says a thing. No spoilers here, but where Gunn goes with the music with the third film will be exponentially further by leaps and bounds in the possibility department.

When it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 bonus features, it is an embarrassment of riches, over 80-minutes of never-before-seen materials.

As we stated, one of the things that most impressed us with Gunn’s latest film is the world building and expanding character landscape. Our first recommended bonus feature takes us inside the auteur’s vision, and is aptly called “Visionary Intro.” The helmer provides an incredible look at his thought process and puts into context how he sees the Guardians galaxy and his vision for wizardly weaving this web. It’s a fascinating look at a master at the highest command of his gifts, storytelling. This little featurette should be a lesson for other sequel tale tellers seeking to broaden their world, without sacrificing the audience-character connection that made the first film such an endearing instant classic.

The four-part behind-the-scenes look at how the entire film came together, “The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” takes the most original of paths to lay out how Gunn’s sequel was made. It utilizes the style of a classic-rock album liner notes!

Sure, it would be easy to see that an actor like Pratt, what with his comedic background, would be part of a majority of the hilarious outtakes on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Actually, it’s an all-inclusive Gag Reel that finds everyone getting in on the flubs and the fun. For a non-comedy, it’s one of the better ones we’ve seen this year! It does not only include bloopers, but a sensational squad of shenanigans. Yes, I call shenanigans and love every minute.

Speaking of fun, don’t miss the “Guardians Inferno Music Video.” It is not simply the end credits sequence that was shown in theaters as the original song played. This is a full-on music video that finds David Hasselhoff and a legion of special guests getting down in an out-of-this-world visual representation of a track that could easily have come straight from the 70s era that spawned the iconic Mix Tapes at the heart of these films.

This entire series is Gunn’s baby and going inside his head was teased in the making-of featurette. If one seeks to go deeper, turn on the James Gunn audio commentary track and get a priceless dose of Gunn giving us an incredible amount of insight into the creative process, magical on-set moments and so much more. It serves as a master class of all that is Gunn’s glory.