Guardians of Marvel’s Box Office Success

Guardians of the Galaxy image from film+fashion+fun

When Marvel Studios announced that they were making a movie based on the obscure comic book Guardians of the Galaxy, everybody scratched their collective heads, including me. Guardians is a super-niche, virtually unknown title in Marvel’s library; even die-hard comic book nerds responded to the news by saying, “Who?” Everybody was wondering why Marvel would make a movie based on such a little-known property.

Then people started to actually look into what the heck Guardians of the Galaxy was all about, and boy, were they shocked by what they found. This was just about the most comic-book-y of all comic books. While Warner Bros./DC, Fox, and Sony are busy making comic book movies that try to ground their characters in something resembling the real world and are filled with gritty drama, Marvel is confidently making a movie based on a comic where one of the main characters is a talking raccoon with a rocket launcher.

Had Marvel lost its mind? Were they insane? Yes, Marvel had taken some big risks in the past few years, and so far those risks have paid off for them, but this, this was nuts. This looks like the biggest risk they’ve taken yet; they must be either so overconfident that they think they are invincible, or so crazy they will take risks just to take risks.

Then I watched the movie. I have to say, neither of these is the case. In fact, in one of the most counter-intuitive twists ever, Guardians of the Galaxy is just about the SAFEST movie these guys have made yet.

Yes, talking raccoon and all.

Yes, talking raccoon and all.

That’s not a bad thing. In fact, in this particular case, it is a very good thing. At the end of the day, Guardians may be yet another formulaic, derivative, space fantasy-action popcorn film. But it is a really good formulaic, derivative, space fantasy-action popcorn film. Director James Gunn (Slither, Super) and first-time writer Nicole Perlman knew exactly what this movie needed to be, and boy did they deliver.

Chris Pratt (Her, Moneyball) stars as Peter Quill, a human abducted from Earth as a child and making a living in space as a thief and outlaw, calling himself “Star-Lord”. Over the course of the film, he meets and eventually teams up with super-assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), man-on-a-revenge-mission Drax the Destroyer (former wrestling star Dave Bautista), walking tree creature Groot (Vin Diesel), and of course, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). Together, they have to take on and stop the evil space-terrorist Ronan (Lee Pace). Along the way, they have a number of misadventures and slowly the stakes are raised as they start to discover that a mysterious ancient orb might just hold the key to either stopping Ronan, or becoming his tool to cause untold destruction.

The movie feels a lot like the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie: full of action and excitement, to be sure, but also some world-building as we follow the heroes’ adventures from place to place, and plenty of comedy along the way. The movie has its serious moments, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The characters have a great chemistry together, with their constant bickering and misunderstandings (Drax takes everything literally and has no concept of figures of speech) leading to some pretty funny exchanges. The story is pretty basic, but it throws us just enough well-placed twists to keep us interested and invested.

Obviously, with this being a space fantasy, special effects are a big part of the spectacle. Marvel has outdone itself yet again in this sphere, proving they are the masters at CGI and set design. There is eye-candy everywhere you look. Even the costumes look really good.

Make-up artists must love sci-fi movies.

Make-up artists must love sci-fi movies.

No, the story isn’t going to blow your mind. No, there is no deeper message to this film (unless you count “making friends is good for you”). No, this movie isn’t as artsy as, say, Boyhood. That’s not what Guardians is going for, and frankly, it doesn’t need to. This is a movie that is aiming to be a fun ride for an afternoon with your friends. It is aiming to be better than the Transformers or Amazing Spider-Man movies, and it leaps over that hurdle with plenty of room to spare.

What more is there to say? The characters are memorable, believable, and fun. The action is tense and exciting. The space fantasy world is well-designed, the special effects are great, and it is all put together nicely into a movie that I would call “fun-for-the-whole-family” if it weren’t for a couple of swear words scattered here and there. Maybe “fun-for-most-of-the-family?” In any case, Guardians of the Galaxy gets my seal of approval.

One Response to Guardians of Marvel’s Box Office Success

  1. Pingback: The Confusing Kingdom | Cat Flag

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