By: Dan Tomasik
Marvel is taking quite a gamble with this film.
Marvel’s produced many films over the last several years. Some of the characters are well-known (Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America). Others are more obscure (Thor, War Machine, etc). Every movie features characters that are better known to superhero fans who have seen them in other media forms. The Guardians of the Galaxy are interesting in that they are by far the most obscure superheroes yet given a major motion picture. Even having grown up watching Marvel TV shows, reading comics, having long superhero discussions, playing the video games, etc; I’d never heard of the Guardians. Not Drax, not Gamora, not Starlord, not Rocket nor Groot. The supporting cast of Ronan, Nova Prime, Nebula, even Thanos, who promises to become one of the worst adversaries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are all complete mysteries to average moviegoers walking in. Marvel’s banking everything on a misfit group of complete strangers. If it works, it promises to open a new world for them to explore (the whole universe) in future films. Is this the right move?
The answer is printed on the posters: “You’re Welcome.”
The Guardians are not the heroes we need, nor the heroes we deserve. They’re something else entirely. Let’s call them “the heroes we didn’t count on”. Fresh, exciting, inventive, and absurdly entertaining; The Guardians of the Galaxy is a perfect starting point for a new chapter of superhero adventures.
A group of intergalactic misfits with only two things in common; painful losses and bad attitudes. Peter Quill is a human taken from his worst experience and shanghaied by a group of Space Pirates. From his very first scene, Chris Pratt proves himself the perfect choice to pull off the two contrasting identities. The walking badass in a red duster with a cool space mask, boot blasters, gun tricks, with the badass moniker of “Starlord”, and the simple-minded misfit who doesn’t think more than 5 minutes ahead and dances to ‘80’s tunes while tomb raiding.
Gamora is the fist fighting expert of the misfits. An assassin and adoptive daughter of Thanos, she has both the skills and higher purpose to keep everyone else on point. Zoe Saldana pulls off a bright-colored warrior princess performance that makes Avatar pale in comparison.
Drax is the only Guardian not directly tied into their initial confrontation. Whereas the other four met under the odd circumstances of incarceration following individual attempts to kill Quill for a strange rock, Drax was already incarcerated and only jumps in when he learns of Gamora’s connection to Thanos the Mad Titan. Dave Bautista is in the precarious position of trying to make the leap from professional wrestler to actor. While this is not his first role, it’s still quite a transition to pull off (recall how long The Rock has been at it). The role of Drax is a good role in that it doesn’t require as much chemistry or finesse with the other characters. Drax is a maniac berseker hellbent on revenge against Ronin and Thanos for killing his family. He speaks in a surprisingly eloquent manner but cannot grasp concepts such as metaphor or figurative language. Even with Bautista’s limited acting experience, Draz proves a likable comrade with plenty of opportunity for future development and exploration.
However, the two who deserve the most attention and praise and Rocket and Groot. Rocket (the talking raccoon voiced by Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper) is every kid’s dream superhero come true. Short, snarky, easily set off, prone to building crazy stuff from junk, and with a predisposition for shooting giant guns to solve all his problems. Rocket is the guy who can make anything happen, the realizer of ideas into reality. Rocket is awesome. As for Groot, Groot is the innocence and the pure spirit of the Guardians. From his first introduction, he plants a seed in our hearts that grows with every new interaction. It’s strange to think a walking tree whose vocabulary is limited to the words “I”, “am”, and “Groot” (in that order) could grow on one so much, but such is the charm of Groot. It’s fun to think of the work Vin Diesel put into giving those three words meaning in the dozens of ways he delivers them.
The film does resemble Thor: The Dark World in some ways, although done much better. It’s a true space odyssey, with some Indiana Jones thrown in. The villain is also more memorable. Although he may seem cut from the exact same cloth as Malekith (dark being with no sense of humor after an Infinity Stone in his giant spaceship), Ronan has a certain organic, self-made quality that helps add dimension where Malekith had none. The brief introduction of Thanos is sadly too brief, but there are rumors that he will play a bigger part in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Guardians clocks in at #3 or #4 for top Marvel films, tied with Winter Soldier and right behind Avengers and Iron Man.