Remember the reaction during the summer 2012 announcment that Marvel Studios was developing a live-action adaptation for both Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man? Fans all over the world either knew the properties and became ecstatic at the news or they laughed their heads off at the idea of a blockbuster starring a raccoon and a talking tree. Turns out? Marvel took a very calculated risk and blew us all away with a space opera filled with dynamic character development, emotion, and one of the craziest final battle scenes of all time.
James Gunn assembled a cast filled with seemingly random choices. Chris Pratt was a chubby supporting character on Parks and Recreation, and Dave Bautista was a former WWE World Champion with no actual acting experience. Gunn was able to then add Hollywood A-Listers like Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Vin Deasel (Fast and the Furious), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) and even the legendary Glenn Close, and create a truly magical cinematic experience unlike anything ever seen within the superhero film sub-genre.
Given the wild success Marvel Studios had at this time with Avengers, it isn’t difficult to understand why the powers-that-be would be interested in another epic, ensemble film. But nobody could’ve predicted just how successful the film would be.
Like every other inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) this film is laced with subtle humor which is brought to life by the amazing character work by the actors. Chris Pratt has transformed into one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood today and he owes much of that success to his ability to take the words written by James Gunn and create a lovable, charismatic, and engaging hero who is able to hold his own in this universe, despite having no superpowers to speak of. Star-Lord instantly became a household name following the summer 2014 release of Guardians of the Galaxy and his fun-loving and, at times, bumbling personality is something Marvel fans never knew they needed within the MCU.
Zoe Saldana has to be crowned Queen of the Nerds by this time. She was blue in Avatar and now she’s green in the MCU. She’s stolen the show in a trilogy of Star Trek films. Gamora, along with Rocket and Drax, will stand the test of time. They are important to the Marvel mythology because they all have tragic backgrounds causing them to create boundaries and put up walls between them and others. Drax wears his pain on his sleeve by announcing early on that his mission in life is to avenge the death of his wife and daughter. Rocket drunkenly reveals he was a glorified science experiment. Gamora was kidnapped and raised by a psychopathic tyrant. These three hold the team together out of pure necessity. They have never had a family before and being a part of the Guardians truly gives them a sense of purpose.
And then there’s Groot. What did society as a whole do to deserve Groot – the purest hero in the MCU? His innocence and sense of wonder resonates with the audience every time he utters, “I am Groot.” He is a classic character with great strength and no idea how to handle it or what to do with it. Groot has been regenerated a number of times by the events of Guardians of the Galaxy, so imagine how long he and Rocket had been together. Imagine how much they mean to each other. Going into the release of this film, the biggest criticism was the fact that nobody could take a talking tree and a raccoon seriously as superheroes. Walking out of the theater, you’d be hard pressed to find a fan who didn’t adore Groot and Rocket and admire their friendship.
The excellent storytelling combined with the completely unexpected character work from all involved parties plus the first real dive into the cosmic side of the MCU makes this film MUST SEE. The Guardians are a group of conflicting personalities brought together by chance and who fell in love with each other as a family when they all needed it most.
Kevin Feige should be commended for his executive decision to take a risk on this film. Superhero films will be so much better from here on out because of it. With the sequel right around the corner, it was fun to revisit this film in all its glory.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 comes out on May 5, 2017.
Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.