‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ came out in August of 2014 just days after we took our first and only journey to San Diego Comic Con. The cast of ‘Age of Ultron’ was in Hall H and debuted the first ever footage of the upcoming movie. It was the talk of the convention. However, all that we were thinking about was that movie with the hilarious trailer and the awesome music that we got to see when we got home.
Up next on Road to Infinity War…its the one, the only ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’!
Writer and director James Gunn has had a hand in a few different genres of film before ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’- writing for anything from family friendly comedies like ‘Scooby Doo’ and ‘Scooby Doo 2’, to the amazing 2004 ‘Dawn of the Dead’ film, to writing and directing campy horror ‘Slither’ and indie superhero darling ‘Super’. He clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, and that gamble was a good one for Marvel Studios to take. Fellow ‘Guardians’ writer Nicole Perlman was rather a newcomer to the film world, but ever since her work on this film she is in high demand for Marvel Studios and everyone else- writing for Universal Studios, National Geographic Films, Disney Studios, Cirque Du Soleil Films, 20th Century Fox, and Marvel Studios upcoming ‘Captain Marvel’ film.
The score for this film is done by the insanely talented Tyler Bates. A frequent collaborator of James Gunn as well as Zach Snyder, you probably know his work from movies like ‘Dawn of the Dead’, ‘300’, ‘Watchmen’ and the show ‘Californication’. His blend of spunky, upbeat vibes and soaring orchestral adventure is absolutely spot on for the tone and visuals of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’- and it makes the purchase of ‘Awesome Mix Vol 1’ all the better.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was released in the summer of 2014 and although it was a huge gamble for Marvel Studios, it was released at the height of Marvel induced pop culture fandom, and it road the wave all the way to success. It was a perfect time to introduce unfamiliar characters from the catalogue of Marvel and integrate them into the existing roster that we have come to know and love. The reputation of this movie spread like wildfire and it seemingly stayed in theatres for months on end. It wound up bringing in an impressive $773, 328, 629 at the worldwide box office and was immediately greenlit for a sequel.
This newly introduced team of heroes is made up of -more or less- a bunch of scoundrels. Peter Jason Quill is the Earth born adopted child of one of the galaxies most notorious ravagers, Gamora is a biologically altered daughter of Thanos and lone survivor of her species, Drax the Destroyer lost his wife and daughter to Ronan- and he has landed in prison on 22 counts of murder, while Rocket is a cybernetically altered “lower life form” traversing the galaxy with a sweet but homicidal humanoid plant named Groot, looking for their next score. Together, they become the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ when they are caught in the same evil web surrounding a mysterious relic.
Peter Quill-or Starlord, man!- is obnoxious, smooth talking and mischievous-but scarred by the death of his mother and his intergalactic kidnapping. His only father figure comes in the form of a psychotic redneck (blueneck?) who he believes stole Peter from his planet so that he could steal for him. He clings to his past and has very little loyalty to anyone in his present, so working with anyone- let alone a team- takes all the charm and bravery that he can muster. He can get away with empty one night stands, saying things like “turd blossom” and giving the Nova Corp the finger because he also makes Footloose references to green cyborg women who he is in love with and tries to distract his enemy with a dance off. He is just too damn clever for his own good, but he hasn’t had a chance to grow up.
Gamora is a trained assassin and she wants you to know about it. When this group of felons land themselves inside The Kiln we learn just how notorious that she and her network of associates are in the universe- and how much chaos is left in their wake. Gamora lets on very quickly that she is trying to escape her past in an attempt to distance herself from her father and Ronan, and that is how she gains the trust of her fellow Guardians. She has a lot of demons to concur and she hopes that the orb is her ticket to freedom, but she steps up to do the absolute right thing when she learns exactly what it is.
Drax “the Destroyer” is a brick wall of a creature- very human in many ways, but with regeneration, impenetrable skin and brute strength. He has the confidence to go shirtless at all times, place drunken calls to his mortal enemies, and place himself in front of absolutely any adversary. He is nearly impossible to get along with at the beginning because of his hyper literal nature and resounding anger, but he bonds with these heroes once he realizes that they want to help him get his revenge without anyone else losing their families. Dave Bautista totally nails this role, by the way. This is a guy who makes jokes without realizing it and who quite literally laughs in the face of danger- and he is perfect.
Rocket is obviously a raccoon, but where his intelligence comes from- we are not sure. His biological makeup is a mixture of animal and machine at the very least- but with a very heightened level of intelligence- so there could be some man in there as well. He is very much like Gamora and Nebula in that he is essentially a science experiment with a very specific set of skills- mainly ones that involve maiming, exploding, detaining, inhibiting or otherwise murdering people who get in his way. I can never quite put my finger on the voice that Bradley Cooper was going for with Rocket, but it often reminds me of one of the dogs in Oliver and Company. Street smart, with New York City heart. Why should he worry? Why should he care? Hes got space savoir faire! Oh- hes Dodger. Hes totally Dodger.
Rocket eludes to losing someone in his past- but that someone is actually his cybernetically/genetically engineered otter girlfriend, Lylla. We can assume that she was probably killed during their time being experimented on, or potentially trying to escape. Seeing as he has escaped from prison on at least 14 occasions (that we know of) , it isn’t so far fetched to assume that he escaped from there as well. His motivations from the first frame are mainly financial, but he has a soft spot for his best friend Groot and sticks with him at all costs. He still has a heart.
We don’t know just yet where Groot and Rocket met, and Groot is not able to tell us much about himself at this point. Although he has lost of that physical harshness that he has when he often illustrated, his eyes tell a Disney tale all on their own. We know that he is just an absolute sweetheart, but that he finds the maiming and slapping and um, penetrating, of his enemies to be very funny. He and Rocket get along so well because they seem to share similar moral codes. Groot is a little lacking in good judgement, but Rocket seems quite accustomed to dealing with him- almost thriving off of it. They have a very brotherly relationship, just a raccoon and his tree.
With just three little words, Groot delivers what is easily one of-nope, probably THE-saddest moment in all of MCU history up to this point. The very beginning is definitely up there as well (poor Stanley Uris cannot catch a break) but Groot is legendary for making me cry. I mean…we totally ARE Groot! Right!?
Sidenote about this:
My only beef with this movie,up until recently, was the fact that Rocket was so devastated that Groot was willing to sacrifice himself, but he knew well enough to plant a piece of him, and when Groot did “wake up” again- he didn’t seem overly taken back by it. He seemed very happy, but he didn’t bring it to anybodys attention. It didn’t make sense to me. Does he die or doesn’t he die? Has he died before?
However- I have since learned that Groot comes back with a new memory every time. This not only makes that ending scene a million times more tragic, but it makes his resurrection all the better as well. He is going to grow up around his new friends and rediscover them all over again. Thats kind of beautiful!
While Ronan the Accuser is technically the films villain, we must not forget that the Mad Titan Thanos is the mastermind behind a lot of Ronans threat in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Even though he is still glued to his chair giving out orders like a mob boss, we finally have the chance to hear what his voice sounds like (angry Josh Brolin) and see an incredibly advanced rendering of his appearance. He is hunting down the Infinity Stones- as we all suspected at this point in the MCU- and we already know that he has been in possession of one and gave it out to Loki for him to lose. He is hungry to get his hands on as many as possible by whatever means necessary- in this case, destroying an entire planet in exchange for one.
Ronan is yet another Marvel villain on a universal quest for supremacy-although this one seems a hell of a lot more bent on killing other people rather than saving his own. He is a high ranking member of the Kree race hell bent on cleansing the galaxy of Xandarian people and culture, going against a peace treaty made by his own people. He is essentially a terrorist. He has made a deal with Thanos that if he retrieves “the orb” for him, Thanos will destroy the planet himself, but once Ronan realizes the power within, he goes full villain and steals it for himself. He intends to kill Thanos afterwards, so you know right away that hes not going to be around for very long.
Nebula however, seems to be a soulless killing machine who wants nothing more than satisfaction that karma is coming back around for her father and her sister. There are several moments where Gamora extends an olive branch to her, so she must know something that we don’t. She is a truly badass character and one who will likely see more screen time in the future.
What negative thing can I say about ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’? Its got Star Wars charm- dropping you into a galaxy full of species to discover throughout under the guidance of a group of charismatic rebels. You’ve got the tag team- one that doesn’t speak English, the one that understands him, and all the other ones from different planets that mainly just speak English. No robots, though. Sad.
There are moments of tremendous sadness, some of which are dealt with using comedy, while others are left to burn under your eyelids until you give in to their beauty. The comedy kicks into a whole new gear for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and so too does the pop culture influence. Whether its the 70s soundtrack that syncs up with the story, the super buff Chris Pratt brand of charm that is so uniquely his, or the pop culture references left in there for the adults- there is something for everyone who wants to have a good time at the movies.
The casting and character design for this film was spot on in all aspects, from the voice casting of Groot and Rocket to the makeup work for Drax, Nebula and Gamora-all the way to the CGI required to put together that incredible Thanos, Rocket and Groot. Michael Rooker as Yondu is the perfect antihero, Glenn Close, John C Riley and Peter Serafinowicz are all fantastic as members of the Nova Corp and Oreo the raccoon and Sean Gunn did amazing jobs being the bodies of Rocket and Groot.
(Speaking of characters….WHERE IS NOVA!? Marvel can’t just bring in the Nova Corp and show us those sweet helmets with absolutely no introduction to Nova- can they? Will they?)
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ had so much to accomplish, but I truly feel that the freedom that came from introducing a whole new slate of characters that made most people say “Who??” was well trusted in the hands of James Gunn. He had room to bring his unique vision to the universe and his influence is so splendidly spread throughout the process. The introduction of a story centric soundtrack blurs the lines between musical and meta and it adds a layer to the film that draws in both younger kids and their parents-and maybe even their parents parents. There is so much color utilized, but it is not bright and gaudy. Rather, it is well spent in a vast universe of blackness and it gives a rather soothing tone and a muted visual impact. It seems to be the perfect metaphor for how the comedy is used as well- it is ever present-sometimes landing as a punchline, sometimes a bit, but sometimes hiding in plain sight. There are quick little jokes that bring this science fiction lore back down to Earth- like a raccoon complaining about mishandled laundry or Drax spacing out in an important meeting. He brought in people that he is very close to like Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn, knowing that they would be well trusted to pull off this project, and it worked for him.
POST CREDITS SCENE:
I know, when this post credits scene began you were hoping to see a glimpse of what happened to that Infinity Stone that the Collector got his hands on at the end of ‘Thor: The Dark World’. I know that you were hoping to catch a quick shot of an Easter Egg that would catapult you to the top of every Marvel message board-but…we got Howard the Duck.
And it was amazing. This (seemingly) unnecessary throwaway scene was almost a parody on the baiting of post credits scene- giving you a nudge to the side for a laugh instead of trying to drive conspiracy theories. Much like the rest of this movie, it pokes fun at the standard formatting that MCU films, and films like it, tend to revert to.
Up next….‘AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON’