Guardians of the Galaxy - Avengers: Infinity War Marvel MCU Movie Marathon
Now, we enter outer space with Guardians of the Galaxy. And, as always, there will be spoilers.
Of all the films up to that time, Guardians of the Galaxy was, by far, the riskiest. While Iron Man and Thor might not have been household names when their movies came out, people might have tangentially heard of them. But, outside of the comics world, the Guardians of the Galaxy were an unknown commodity. Add to this, the team featured a talking raccoon and a sentient tree.
While the film is detached from the heroes of Earth (at least until this time), it is important to the road to Avengers: Infinity War for a few reasons. First, there's the Thanos connection. While we first saw Thanos in profile in the mid-credit scene of Marvel's The Avengers, he has a significant presence in this film. He is seeking the retrieval of the Orb. Speaking of the Orb, the other major reason why this film is important is because we hear what the Infinity Stones are, their origin and why somebody would want to use them. The Orb represents the Power Stone.
Guardians of the Galaxy reminded me that space films can be fun and about adventure. So many space films at the time seemed to involve people trapped on a planet or on a ship being hunted by aliens. This film was big and bright and colorful and funny and even musical.
Speaking of music, it's no secret that the music plays a big part of the film. It's a character unto itself. They are all songs on an "Awesome Mix" tape that Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) plays on his walkman. The retro soundtrack proved to be a big part of the film's success.
What's interesting is that, up until this point, I knew Chris Pratt as the schlubby idiot type character akin to the one he played in Parks and Rec. I would never have picked him for Star-Lord, but now I cannot picture anybody else as Star-Lord. And, I can't imagine him not playing an action hero with that Harrison Ford style of swagger. This film was probably one of the best things for his career.
Another casting surprise for me was that for Yondu. Most people don't know that he was a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. He was sort of an analog to a Native American archer. In my mind, he had a certain nobility. So, when they cast Michael Rooker in the role, I thought it was an odd choice since he was most well known, at the time, for playing redneck Merle on The Walking Dead. But the rework of the character as a space pirate works and Rooker plays the character with such joy. I also like how they still worked in his comic counterpart's archery by giving him an arrow that responds to his whistles.
And how they decided that Bradley Cooper would be perfect for the wisecracking talking raccoon with a New York accent, I'll never know. But, he sounds exactly like the way I do when I read the comics. If there was one piece of casting that I totally imagined was Groot. Groot was everything I imagined him to be, down to his voice. Well before this movie, I read the comic with Vin Diesel's voice because of his performance in The Iron Giant. While deep and foreboding, there is a gentleness and innocence in his delivery. So, I was so happy when they cast him.
Zoe Saldana was amazing as Gamora. I like how she made her an effective killing machine, but still gave her a softness to make her more relatable. Otherwise, she would be exactly the same as her sister Nebula, played by Karen Gillan with great zeal. Gillan's Nebula is much harder and bitter, but she also has a vulnerability to her. I like how both renounce their father Thanos, but in two different ways. Gamora takes a more honorable approach by trying to make sure her father's plans do not come to fruition while Nebula is obsessed with his destruction.
Another person obsessed with his destruction is Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who seeks revenge for the death of his wife and daughter. Drax's origin story is very different in the film than the comics and that's a good thing. His origin is much simplified as an alien from a planet where everybody takes things literally. I won't even go into the comic book origin because its so convoluted. Anyway, Bautista does an excellent job in playing this character hell bent on revenge, yet injecting him with lots of humor.
While some didn't think Ronan The Accuser was a great villain, I enjoyed Lee Pace in the role. I felt that he had the timbre and stance for the role. My biggest complaint is that Ronan is a complex character. He is faithful to the Kree and would do anything to protect the empire, but not a fanatic to the point where he would defy the Supreme Intelligence as portrayed in the film. He has more shades of gray in the comics that I wish had been painted on the film version.
The one thing I'm bummed about is that, while the film did introduce Xandar and the Nova Corps, which is Marvel's intergalactic police force, they did not introduce Nova who is not only a central character in Marvel's cosmic stories, but was also a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy himself. I understand his absence was by design, but, given Marvel Studios saying that the next phase will have more cosmic stories, I hope they will introduce him soon.
Stan Lee Cameo: Bystander Rocket is observing on Xandar while trying to locate Peter. Easter Egg: There is Skrull language around him that translates to Stan Lee's famous exclamation, "Excelsior!"
I love Guardians of the Galaxy. It was always one of my favorite teams and I thought this was a great way to introduce them to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would probably place this film in my top 5 favorite Marvel Studios films.
Now, back to Earth with Avengers: Age of Ultron.