Matchup of the Day: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 vs Rollerball
In Rollerball, James Caan plays star athlete Jonathan in a corporate controlled dystopia. He is so successful at the violent sport of rollerball that the higher-ups deem him a threat to the uniformity of the “perfect” society they have constructed. Jonathan has begun to stand out as an individual, rather than just part of the team. That is frowned upon. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is also about being part of a team, but, unlike Rollerball, the team is a group of scalawags who just happened to become heroes. They become a family after sharing death-defying exploits, and all are valued equally for their individual contributions.
Because there is no longer conflict in the futuristic society in which rollerball is popular, the sport is the only outlet for humanity’s competitive drives. There are rules, however, which offer some control over the mayhem. That is, until Jonathan refuses to retire when the corporate executives see him as a danger. The only other source of meaning in his otherwise uneventful existence is his wife, who was taken from him and given to an engineer. Taking away his beloved game as well is asking too much. To punish Jonathan, the authorities remove the sport’s safety restrictions as his defiance continues — they’re probably hoping to kill him off.
In Guardians, one of the team members, Rocket, steals from the Sovereign, an arrogant race of genetically designed aliens. Furious, their beautiful (on the outside) high priestess, Ayesha, sends waves of ships to annihilate the Guardians. During a Sovereign assault, they end up crashing on a lush planet that is actually the body of a powerful Celestial. The Celestial, Ego, reveals that he is the long lost father of Quill, leader of the Guardians. This appears to be great until Ego’s megalomaniacal plan for the galaxy is revealed. Quill must decide to either side with Ego and be immortal or band together with his team and thwart the evil scheme.
There’s an obvious comparison between the Sovereign in Guardians and the corporate executives in Rollerball. The Sovereign are so haughty that they don’t even deign to pilot the attack ships sent to destroy the Guardians, but rather direct the ships from the safety of their home planet. The executives in Rollerball watch the athletes pummel each other from behind the safety glass at the arena, or on television. Both the Sovereign and executives go to excessive lengths to punish those who offend them.
Ego is even worse than the Sovereign, as he seeks to replace all life in the galaxy with himself. Also, Quill discovers that Ego gave his mother a brain tumor, which is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Quill realizes that saving his teammates is better than being immortal. For Jonathan in Rollerball, his freedom to continue playing is more important than leading a comfortable, but empty, life. At the end of the film he is the last player standing. The executives are presumably humiliated. This is case with the Sovereign as well, after the Guradians destroy their attack ships.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Global ranking: 684
- Wins 61% of matchups
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- 198 users have it in their top 20
- Global ranking: 2293
- Wins 40% of matchups
- 0 users have it at #1
- 13 users have it in their top 20