The song most indicative of the motley crew in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—you know this because you hear it once in the trailer, twice in the film, and because Entertainment Weekly mentioned it in a cover story—is “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. And, really, why shouldn’t it be? The film, like the song (it’s about the band), tells the story of lovable misfits carrying entirely too much baggage sticking together despite the deep fissures in their relationships. It’s perfect! There’s just one thing. The Guardians of the Galaxy are no Fleetwood Mac.
Sure, Groot bears a striking resemblance to Mick Fleetwood. Dude’s like 6 foot 5. Put a black shawl on Gamora and she might pull off a Stevie Nicks look for Halloween. But is Peter Quill/Star-Lord a stand-in for Lindsey Buckingham? Nah. Does Rocket hold a candle to John McVie? He probably doesn’t have the rhythm. Could Drax be the Christine McVie of this crew? Well, let’s leave that one alone. But this isn’t about whether the Guardians could rock or the Mac could fly spaceships. It’s about whether the drama roiling the Guardians matches that of the band at its craziest. And in that comparison, the Guardians fall dramatically short.
“The Chain,” per legend, grew from another song by singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, and is the only track from the golden-era lineup with writing credits for everyone in the band. (Rolling Stone once called it their own “Frankenstein’s monster.”) Rumours, the album on which it appears, was created in an atmosphere of what McVie described as “dra-ma.” Nicks had recently split up with Buckingham, the McVies were divorcing, and Fleetwood’s marriage was faltering. (Because that wasn’t enough crazy, Nicks and Fleetwood hooked up a while later, because, hey, the band that plays toget… oh, never mind.) All of this occurred amid quantities of cocaine that would make Scarface say, “Whoa, slow down there.” Nicks once claimed that “two weeks’ worth of cocaine could have paid our rent for six months.” As you might imagine, this led to … difficulties in the studio. Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat once said the band “started throwing champagne in each others’ faces and yelling at each other” when arguing about song lyrics, which, of course, detailed everyone’s romantic entanglements and feelings.
Star-Lord and Gamora, the ersatz Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in this scenario, basically just argue about the fact that he thinks they have an unspoken Sam and Diane thing going on and she has no freaking idea what Cheers is, being from another planet and all.
The Guardians in Vol. 2, meanwhile, fight like raccoons and aliens, sure, but it all seems so tame in comparison. Star-Lord and Gamora, the ersatz Nicks and Buckingham in this scenario, basically argue about his thinking they have an unspoken Sam and Diane thing going on and her having no freaking idea what Cheers is, being from another planet and all. Star-Lord also calls out Rocket for being a jerk (rightly, I might add), but this entire “argument,” while presented as monumental, fills about five minutes of screen time and occurs without a single thrown beverage. Boooring. The rest of the drama, as it were, focuses on whether Quill should trust his newly found dad, Ego, and saving the galaxy. Again. Granted, saving the galaxy is admittedly a big ask, but without wrecked marriages, illicit affairs, and mounds of cocaine, it doesn’t really count, now does it? The quintessential line from “The Chain”—If you don’t love me now/you will never love me again/I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain—applies, but there’s no way it means the same here as it did for Fleetwood Mac.
Being space heroes also doesn’t produce one of the best rock songs and albums of the 1970s. Rumours went platinum 20 times over and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1977. Both the album and the song “The Chain” remain wildly popular. (Glee did an entire episode on Rumours, for God’s sake.) The Guardians, on the other hand, earned $145 million at the US box office over the weekend, and Quill and Gamora finally acknowledged their “thing.” (Maybe Gamora, knowing that rulers make bad lovers, found comfort knowing Quill wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of his dad, the Living Planet?) That’s pretty good. But until they blow that money on a 7-mile line of coke and start throwing bubbly at each other, they’re no Fleetwood Mac.