As many of you know, I have been a comic book fan and reader since I was five years old, so as a result I have really enjoyed the trend of comic book based movies over the last several years. One of the most recent ones I have seen is the new Marvel Comics movie Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians is the tenth movie in a sequence of movies known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Guardians is probably the most obscure Marvel Comics offering yet as the comic book series of the same name is not among their most popular titles. The Guardians are a team of characters who are space adventurers and, well, guard our galaxy. The Guardians had their start back in 1969 and have existed with a cult following for many years in various incarnations and titles. It was not until a reimagining of the team in 2008 that it started to take off and creep its way into mainstream fandom.
The Guardians are a team of rag tag characters from diverse backgrounds, motivations, and abilities. The team in the movie consists of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (a half human swashbuckler), Drax the Destroyer (a person whose was killed along with his family by Thanos who was eventually resurrected and enhanced specifically to hunt down and kill Thanos), Gamora (Thanos’ assassin protégé), Groot (a living and sentient tree), and Rocket (a genetically created being that just happens to look like a raccoon). Note that the character descriptions I provide above are based on their comic book iterations and not the movie’s version of the characters.
Thanos is the overarching villain of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe set of movies (he had a very brief appearance in The Avengers) and he makes his presence known in this film as well. Guardians also allows the Marvel Cinematic Universe to introduce and engage with all manner of space, sci-fi, and cosmic characters, themes, and concepts which allows the normally Earth bound characters and stories of the Marvel movies to expand to nearly limitless possibilities. Indeed, what comic book reader, even five years ago, would have ever thought seeing such obscured characters like Ronan the Accuser, Nebula, Yondu, and the Collector on the silver screen in a major motion picture? It’s good to be a comic book fan right now.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty consistent with the traditional Marvel Universe, Guardians included, some changes in the characters were made, most apparently to Ronan and Yondu but to others as well. Perhaps most notably, Star-Lord’s father is not revealed but is obviously not the alien ruler J’Son of Spartax but is hinted to be someone else much more powerful and significant, so it is interesting to see how that plot point will play out. On the bright side, if you look closely in the background in some scenes with the Collector, you will see the cocoon of Adam Warlock, which is exciting news for me as Warlock is probably in my top five favorite comic book characters, which includes Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer, and Jim Hammond. So, as the cocoon is visible, let’s hope Warlock will make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon!
The movie was very well done, fun, entertaining, and fits well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think the film is appropriate for viewers at least twelve years old, but some scenes and words in the movie may be inappropriate for younger viewers. The film balances well between serious action sequences and rather funny and light hearted parts and lines. The characters were developed reasonably well in order to prepare then for future films. This was obviously an origin story for the Guardians. Like most rag tag groups in movies, they come together somewhat unwillingly for a common cause and, during their struggle, they develop affinity and loyalty to one another. The central MacGuffin is the pursuit of the Power Stone, one of the Infinity Gems, as further development of the overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is the story of the Infinity Gauntlet. The movie is really carried by the charismatic Chris Pratt as Star- Lord who retains his dopey-every-man-comedic-persona but seems to successfully merge it into a swashbuckling, plucky, and resourceful space adventurer. I do not want to over state it, but Star-Lord could be viewed as a modern, 21rst Century, Han Solo-type character. Over all, the movie had decent acting, fun plot (though predictable from both a movie and comic book view), an absence of noticeable plot holes, and a sense of grandeur due to its deep space focus. What makes the predictable plot tolerable are the facts that, first, it fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a crucial way, and second, is presented in such a fun way that does not take itself too seriously (but also successfully avoids camp!).
Although I think comic book fans will really enjoy this film (but for its deviations from canon described above), I also think the fun tone of the film will make this movie appealing to non-comic-book fans as well.
I am really looking forward to seeing how this movie ties in with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its second installment due out in 2017. This movie is highly recommended.