A few more thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (yeah, I have a lot of them): while I totally get the rush of “galaxy’s best dad!/Yondu did nothing wrong in his life!” posts and fanart (I do! honestly! Michael Rooker did an amazing job) that’s just… not the story I think the movie is telling, or the story I really want it to be telling. James Gunn is at it too, what with him basically saying “Well, Peter wasn’t a great son either!” in that Q&A he did…
…Yondu was an absolutely abusive parent, yeah? He loved Peter a lot in his own equally-abused way, but he was. Peter even says it, when Yondu demands a prize for basic decency in the first movie “Normal people don’t even think about eating anybody else, let alone that person having to be grateful for it!” He doesn’t know Yondu was never planning to seriously hurt him, he just knows that he pretty much grew up under the constant threat of violence (no matter how ordinary that apparently seems to be for Ravagers.) There were presumably some nice moments every now and again, since Peter does have a clear, maybe rather begrudging affection for him, but yeah, the point: at the beginning of the Guardians films Yondu’s not even deserving of a World’s Okayest Dad mug, let alone a World’s Greatest Dad one.
But that’s why his storyline in GOTG2 is so satisfying, and hits all the tropes I love in a redemption arc, because it’s entirely about Yondu realising just how utterly, utterly he fucked up (with both Peter and the other kids he unwittingly delivered to their deaths) and setting out to try and make up for it, even if that means dying basically unmourned (as Stakar told him) and unloved. When he’s with the others on Ego’s planet, it’s obvious from his words to Rocket that he doesn’t intend to leave it at all, but rather stay and try to regain some remnants of his honour by helping to kill the thing that killed his adopted son’s siblings.
And I love the “[Ego] may have been your father but he wasn’t your daddy” line, I think everyone does, but those would have been terribly disappointing and selfish last words. I don’t think Yondu was talking about himself, it’s just a simple affirmation to make Peter feel better, what matters is the apology he makes afterwards. “I’m sorry I didn’t do none of it right, I was lucky you were my boy.” Not a plea for forgiveness, just a flat-out statement really: Peter deserved better than him. All he can do is die to keep Peter alive and hold his face when he cries and hope that that’s enough.
…..And that’s just, such a much more interesting story than “he was secretly good all along.”