Title: Guardians of the Galaxy
Written By: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning; James Gunn, Nicole Perlman (screenplay)
Publication Info: Marvel 2014
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Carrie and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last night (not together, because there’s a very inconvenient continent in the way) and we have many thoughts.
In short, IT WAS AWESOME.
Marvel has done a really good job of maintaining optimism in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – it’s not dark and gritty like DC is, and you want a talking raccoon? Did you not know you wanted a talking raccoon with a machine gun? You did want a talking raccoon with a machine gun with a walking talking tree as his best friend, and now you have a walking, talking raccoon with a machine gun and a walking, talking tree as a best friend AND YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT.
I want our readers to know that I’m drinking the first caffine of the day from an X-Men mug as I write this. I feel so meta.
Should we try to sum up the plot? There’s these guys (I’m using ‘guys’ to mean sentient beings of any species or gender). They are rogues. And they steal something really important. And then it gets stolen from them. And then they have to get it back so that they can, wait for it…guard the galaxy. And this involves everything blowing up a lot and them becoming loveable rogues with hearts of gold who bond to form a new family. A family of rogues. That’s the plot.
I didn’t think GotG was particularly deep or life-changing, nor was it trying to be. GotG is just FUN. Really, really fun. It’s wild, it’s insane, it’s irreverent. There’s a raccoon and a tree flying in spaceships – I mean, that really sums it up, you know? What keeps the movie engaging is that the raccoon and tree have a real relationship, as do the other characters. Some of the development is a little rushed of necessity but there’s still a sense of hard-won comradeship. “Family of Choice” is one of my favorite tropes and that’s a big theme of this movie.
GotG fits beautifully in the Marvel Universe because of it’s tone. The script has that sharp repartee and dry wit we’ve come to associate with Marvel ever since Joss Whedon got involved (Apparently Joss encouraged the writer/director James Gunn not to be afraid to insert his own, famously wacky sense of humor, into the script). It has a similar refusal to take itself too seriously. But it also takes itself very seriously when it comes to the themes we’ve seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe return to over and over again – the importance of relationships, building a team and thus building a family, and the importance of responsibility – of taking a stand even though you could walk away.
Basically, the universe is saved through the Power of Friendship.
I think one of the challenges of GotG is that this is not a well-known franchise. When the trailers included the lines:
“You might know by another name….Star Lord!”
that’s meta as hell. And the movie did a really good job of tossing out exposition without bringing the movie to a screeching halt to explain who these people were, what the hell was going on, and why we should care.
(Also the friend I saw the movie with felt bad for the CGI renderers and the sceneshop people for getting tooth marks on everything they made when Lee Pace just let everything fly. I feel pretty sure the direction was “Well, you’re BLUE, and there’s a lot of makeup involved, so…balls to the wall, dude.”)
HA! I think that direction could pretty much have applied to most of the movie with a change in adjectives depending on the character. “You’re green, you’re traumatized and pissed off, and you’re heavily armed. Go”.
I also agree re: the challenges of the movie. I didn’t find this movie to be as emotionally powerful as The Avengers because by the time The Avengers happened, I had already formed relationships with all of the characters. I walked in already invested. In this movie, I thought they did a great job of setting everything up and saying who everyone was. The police line-up was a clever, fun way to shortcut some exposition – instead of subtly working in who everyone was, they could take a moment and just have someone say, “Hey! Here’s who everyone is!” Because it fit so well with the plot and was so funny, it felt efficient instead of clunky. And when I say “It wasn’t as emotionally powerful”, I don’t mean that it wasn’t powerful at all. I cared about the characters and what happened to them. That thing with Drax and Rocket which I won’t describe because it’s a spoiler just about killed me.
I also loved that the movie gave you the seeds to ship Peter and Gamorra, if you want, but you didn’t have to. The ship I did not expect was Drax and Groot, but I’m there for it. All day.
I didn’t get a romantic vibe between Drax and anyone although I loved Drax’s character arc. But yeah, one of my favorite things about the movie is that there’s a hint of romance but it’s not a done deal. Maybe Gamarra and Peter will be friends. Maybe they’ll be lovers. But it’s not like the hero’s reward for being a hero is that he gets to have a girlfriend. That’s a very standard, irritating trope and I’m glad they ducked it.
Mostly, though, I want Rocket blowing up all the things.
I think the MCU has made good strides in improving their representation of women and minorities (more for women, true). It’s not perfect, of course, but the movement has been in the right direction. After everything DC (in movies and comics) has put us through in the past year, I love Marvel for this. This is the first MCU movie to have a female screenwriter, so… good job, Marvel. Keep doing better!
I also think that the music was done SO WELL. All the background songs are used in-universe, and I really need to go to a screening where it is encouraged to sing-along (Fact: I sang about 4 bars of the Pina Colada song before I remembered where I was.) (Other fact: the guy about three seats down sang to “I Want You Back”).
Yes, I loved the use of music and I did quite a bit of boogying in my seat. Will never think of Footloose the same way again. However, I’ve had “Hooked on a Feeling” stuck in my head for about a month now and I RESENT THAT, MARVEL.
You and the rest of nerddom.
OK, let’s wrap this baby up. Grades? I’d give it an enthusiastic A. The villains were one dimensional, and the plot was basically a thinly veiled excuse for explosions, so not an A+. But I’m guessing that you are giving it an A+ for sure. And using our new puppy cannon system, how many puppy cannons would you give it, exactly?
I’d agree with the A, except the stinger made me laugh so hard, and yell so loudly (“THAT IS A THING THAT JUST HAPPENED OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”) (seriously, y’all, stay through the credits. I can’t believe people still leave a Marvel movie before the end credits) that I have to give it an A+. I just. I have to. In terms of puppy cannons, I’d say 4 puppy cannons.
OK, A+ it is! The stinger has tipped us over the edge! I’d give it three puppy cannons.