With Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Universe continues to expand, giving us previously unknown characters and unexplored worlds.
On the surface, everything seems truly alien. But, Guardians may be the best planet in the comic movie universe.
This is just a fun movie. Remember when movies were fun? This isn’t the latest Superman or Spiderman reboots with brooding galore. The character-driven story just enjoys itself.
At the same time though, Guardians manages to be more than just one long gag. You actually care what happens to Peter Quill and his band of criminals with hearts of gold. They even engage in significant philosophical discussions, but never as pointless monologues.
It’s a self-aware movie that never becomes self-parodying. And that is a often a difficult task for comic movies. See Superman IV, Batman Forever, Spider-Man 3.
Chris Pratt’s Quill (or, as he would rather be called, “Star Lord”) provides the grounding for the film. He starts off the film on Earth and brings the viewer along with him into the space adventure.
The soundtrack for the film, Star Lord’s “Awesome Mix Vol. 1,” grants the viewer a way to relate audibly to the strange new world. There may be planets and technology you’ve never heard of, but when the spaceship has a tape deck blasting “Hooked on a Feeling,” you still have a connection.
Honestly, it still shouldn’t work, particularly when you do something that risky with a virtually unknown property. People have heard about the superheroes who make up the Avengers. The Guardians? They don’t have a built-in audience.
But what could have been a negative is turned into a positive. It is the most accessible Marvel film. You can walk in knowing absolutely nothing about comics at all and enjoy it.
Marvel went outside of their well-known characters and gave audiences something new and it worked brilliantly. Guardians gives the Marvel Universe a comic collection of lovable losers, but it’s still Marvel.
There’s Thanos looming over the evil schemes. There’s a group of heroes sacrificing their own desires to work together and save a planet in danger.
Yes, that does sound like The Avengers, but its a much more irreverent team that takes itself much less seriously. Director James Gunn said Guardians were the Rolling Stones to the Avengers’ Beatles.
Using that analogy, the Marvel Universe has become a top 40 station that mixes in the most popular pieces of other genres and brings them under one umbrella. There is something for everyone.
Captain America: The Winter Solider gave viewers a grittier, spy thriller, while the original Captain film worked as a period piece. The Thor movies provide a fantasy flare. While Iron Man shows up as the quintessential action film.
Guardians is the space comedy that somehow draws together portions of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and, Avengers‘ Joss Whedon’s own creation, Firefly.
The differences between it and Avengers are stark. I sat in the theater wondering how these two teams could ever co-exist stylistically together on a screen.
But, in the end, that only makes me curious (and excited) to think about the possibilities of the inevitable interplay between the two disjointed groups.
Marvel has indeed created a universe with varying characters and distinct genres, but who all can come together and who do share some of the same elements.
While Guardians is the first to be set almost entirely away from Earth, it is the one that feels most like home in the Marvel Universe.
But setting those things aside, if you saw Guardians, what did you think? Did it seem a stretch for the Marvel Universe or did you enjoy it as much as I did?