Guardians is another comic book I never read growing up, but I loved this movie. I’m also a realist. I know full well that myself and the legions of other movie goers who have watched and re-watched the movie since its release last weekend would not have had the same level of interest in it if we didn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe films from the last six years to connect to it. In fact, I’ll be totally honest here. More honest than others. The biggest draw to these movies, at this point, is simply to find out how each one will bridge the gap between the last one and the next one. In the next five years, there will be more Marvel/ DC movies released than the studios can even name. No, seriously. Half of the planned film releases are untitled. The studios seem to have a lot of faith in the popularity of all things comic book at this point in pop culture history. I don’t believe Guardians of the Galaxy was the big gamble everyone is giving Marvel credit for. The fact that Avengers is the third highest grossing film in cinematic history, along with the fact that we already know that all of these movies are connected somehow, made Guardians a sure winner. Without The Avengers, this movie would have been a curiosity that would become more of a cult hit years from now when midnight screenings are shown in privately owned theaters full of people in cosplay. But onto the task at hand: surgically removing this thing from its Avengers host body and holding it under its own microscope.
The movie centers around Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/ Star Lord character. We are given his backstory as the young victim of an alien abduction who grows to become a legendary (in his own mind) space pirate. He is on the run with a bounty on his head from his pissed off space pirate boss and a maniacal galactic warlord obsessed with possessing an ancient artifact Quill has stolen. Hmm… Now that I think about it… He’s like Han Solo! Anyway, among the bounty hunters on his tail are Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. She is the movie’s resident Black Widow female assassin character. There is also Groot and Rocket. Groot is played by Vin Diesel, who is testing the limits of his acting range by playing the voice of a walking tree who can communicate by only saying one line: “I am Groot;” and Rocket, a wise-cracking demolitions expert- genetically engineered raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper. Not only was I incredibly impressed by Cooper’s performance of this character, but I think Rocket might be my favorite character of ALL of the Marvel movie characters up to this point. Friggin’ hilarious and scene- stealing.
When all of the characters wind up in a large space prison they meet Drax, played by Dave Bautista, who gives what I think is the best performance of a pro-wrestler in a movie yet. I’ve never been impressed by Hulk Hogan or The Rock in their movies, but Bautista pleasantly surprises as a heart broken bruiser out for revenge for the death of his family at the hands of Thanos, who happens to have a very close relationship with Gamora. Realizing that each has a vested interest helping each other escape the prison, the group form a reluctant alliance to recapture the artifact at the center of the plot and break out of the prison. Quill is trying to escape his bounty, Gamora is trying to keep the artifact away from Lee Pace’s Ronan The Accuser and Josh Brolin’s Thanos, Drax is using Gamora to lure Ronan so he can have his revenge, and Rocket and Groot want money, but in what is fantastic character development for CGI characters, actually just have warm spots in their hearts for their new friends.
By the end of the film, the group becomes a much more close knit team with one even offering to make the ultimate sacrifice for the rest, which leads to a mid-credit scene that is so awesome and unexpected and funny that if it doesn’t warm your heart, you’re just a mean person.
Guardians contains more comics-related easter eggs than the rest of these films, and it’ll take a few hours on Wikipedia after watching it to fully understand much of what you saw. The end credit scene is a quick nod to an old Marvel cinematic property that most have tried to forget, but will still get a chuckle out of now. Since this movie takes place almost entirely in space or on alien planets, the settings themselves become characters. The set design is better than anything in the Star Wars films and the special effects are impressive without being overwhelming. Michael Bay’s people could learn a thing or two from the Marvel people, I’m just saying.
If you’re a fan of the previous entries in the Marvel movie world, you’ll be a fan of Guardians. If you don’t care about comic movies and haven’t been following along, you’ll probably think it’s a clever little Star Wars rip off and walk away with your life largely unchanged by the experience. But like I said earlier, at this point, these movies all rely on the success of the one before it. They exist to keep our interest piqued enough to last until the inevitable final showdown in Avengers 3. And me and my inner child/ comic book fanatic are enjoying the ride for as long as it lasts.