LOS ANGELES The stars of "Guardians of the Galaxy," the Marvel movie about a rag-tag group of integalactic heroes, landed in Hollywood to debut their return in a much-anticipated sequel that sees them embark on another high-stakes space adventure.
In "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," space heroes Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot find themselves pursued by a villain and once again are given the task of saving the universe.
They are joined along the way by Gamora's petulant sister Nebula, space pirate Yondu and Mantis, an empathic alien. The film is scheduled to open in theaters on May 5.
"This is a million-piece puzzle and when you sit back and see the mosaic put together you get this one incredibly even, fully executed idea," Chris Pratt, who plays Peter Quill, said at the red carpet premiere on Wednesday.
"It's brilliant, great music, it's super funny, dramatic and it's got great emotion and relationships, it's stunning," he said.
Sylvester Stallone, who makes an appearance as Stakar Ogord leader of the space pirates known as "ravagers," said action films "are modern mythology when it's done right."
"The kind of action films I've done are sort of more mano-a-mano ... now they've developed this Marvel universe Guardians that have a heart, that has a lot of emotion to it, that takes it another step further," he said, using the Spanish phrase for "hand to hand" combat that has come to be associated with any kind of competition between two people.
"It's kind of a cross between 'Rocky' (and) 'Rambo' in space," he added.
The sequel follows 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," which smashed summer box office records and ushered in a new cadre of edgy heroes in the Marvel cinematic universe.
"I made a movie about outcasts for outcasts and it's very touching for me that people all over the world, whether here or in Japan or in Russia or in England have been touched by the movie," writer-director James Gunn said.
Gunn will write and direct the third "Guardians" film, due for release in 2020.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross for Reuters TV; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Andrew Hay)