Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige said making “Guardians of the Galaxy” was “the riskiest movie” the studio has attempted since 2008’s “Iron Man” — and he’s right.
Compared to Tony Stark, Captain America, and the Hulk, you probably haven’t heard of the alien team that was first introduced to Marvel comics in 1969 until recently.
Business Insider attended a screening of the new movie Wednesday before its in theatres next month, and it’s safe to say that risk is going to pay off in a big way.
Not only does the film finally reward viewers for patiently sitting through countless Marvel end-credits scenes over the years, but “Guardians” is brash, it’s bold, and it’s not afraid to stray from what you typically expect from Marvel in terms of superheroes.
Warning: Some minor spoilers follow.
“Guardians” isn’t trying to be another Avengers — and that’s a good thing.
This time around we’re not following people who are supposed to be idolized. The team that makes up the group of Guardians are a bunch of self-absorbed misfit miscreants who would probably make good candidates for therapy.
We meet two bounty hunters in the form of a feisty, gun-toting Raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his faithful giant tree-like companion Groot (Vin Diesel). Rocket has some real anger issues and a slightly all-too-eager trigger happy finger. Groot can only utter one sentence (“I am Groot.”). Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) takes everything you say literally and wants to avenge a slain family. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a deadly assassin, has some serious daddy issues. Then there’s Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who was abducted by aliens when he was 8-years-old and is now a womanizer travelling around space calling himself Star-Lord.
In many ways, they’re the anti-Avengers and it works. The group’s quirky personalities are a refreshing change that allows them to stand out in what is soon to become a very crowded Marvel cinematic universe.
Those end-credits scenes are finally making sense
This is probably the single-most important film to watch in terms of knowing the trajectory for future Marvel movies.
“Guardians” is essentially the culmination of many previous teasers we’ve seen in end-credits sequences for Marvel films. Remember all of those teasers with Thanos, the Collector, and hints at the Infinity Stones? Well, prepare for them to come to life on screen.
The five end up in cahoots after Quill stumbles upon an Orb that ends up housing a powerful gem known as an Infinity Stone. It’s a very in-demand item that many different people in the film are after. It’s such a hot-ticket item that one man, The Collector, who we’ve seen briefly before, is willing to pay a space currency of 4 billion units (a possible subtle nod to how much Disney paid to acquire Marvel in 2009).
Chris Pratt’s reign at theatres continues
Pratt hooks the viewer from the moment you see him enter the screen throwing on a retro set of headphones, putting on an old school Sony Walkman, and freely dancing to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” across a wide open set like a goofball. It’s one of the most satisfying, feel-good openings to a film I’ve seen in a while. The scene takes an unexpected turn quickly that I guarantee will have you laughing.
Between “Guardians” and “The Lego Movie,” this is really Pratt’s year and it’s easy to see why. The “Parks and Recreation” star is magnetizing every time he’s on screen much in the same way Tom Hiddleston is with Loki in “Thor” and Robert Downey, Jr. is with Tony Stark in “Iron Man.”
Whether he’s dangling a man’s robotic leg casually over his shoulder, trying to channel Kevin Bacon in “Footloose” (more on that in a bit), or unsuccessfully hitting on women, he always has your attention on screen.
There are a lot of fun action sequences
Many people, ourselves included, weren’t really sure what to expect going into “Guardians.” Is it a comedy? An action film? A drama?
First and foremost it’s an action film. “Guardians” probably has some of the most fight scenes we’ve seen all summer in a film other than “X-Men: Days of Future Past” or “Transformers.”
If you’re looking for action scenes that aren’t completely made up of explosions, “Guardians” offers a lot of fight scenes. It’s as if everyone gets a chance to beat up nearly everyone else in this film. Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) vs. the Guardians, Gamura vs. Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket vs. the world, and even the Guardians vs. themselves.
While I’m not sure that they top scenes from Disney’s earlier release this year “Captain America: The Winter Solider,” there’s a satisfying prison sequence and an amusing fight between some of the Guardians early on.
A scene with Benicio del Toro and the gang is also one that should have audiences talking.
But there’s one moment that will leave Marvel fanboys reeling.
As we said, the film brings together what we’ve seen in a lot of end-credits scenes. Knowing that, we won’t say what the big reveal is yet — you’ll know it when you see it — but there is a very satisfying cameo that has been in the works at Marvel for some time that we were ecstatic to see on screen.
Groot is handled perfectly in the film
Earlier in July, we saw a screening of 17 minutes from the film. One of the few things we were concerned about was how Groot would be handled since he only has one line of spoken dialogue, “I am Groot.” During that screening it felt like we were hearing “I am Groot” every few minutes — something that easily become distracting while watching the film. This isn’t a problem throughout the movie at all. We ended up seeing different parts of the movie edited together where Diesel’s character happened to say the lines a lot.
(In case you’re wondering, he says the line approximately 10 times throughout the more than two-hour runtime.)
This movie was made for fans
If you’re familiar with the family-friendly Disney brand, its easy to see the Mouse House gave Marvel Studios a lot of leeway in making “Guardians” its own without overstepping the bounds of a PG-13 film.
This is good for comic fans who don’t want a dumbed-down Disney flick, but questionable for parents who may be looking for a family film that freely uses a bit of raunchier humour.
There are definitely a few awkward conversations that could possibly arise. Parents will have to tell kids to not repeat Star-Lord when he flips off a crew.
Pratt later makes a backlight joke referencing how his ship would compare to the likes of a Jackson Pollock painting.
When we previewed the film at the start of July, we noted there was a line in the film where Quill additionally referred to someone as a bastard. That appeared to be missing in the final cut.
It has a superb soundtrack
I cannot recommend the tunes from “Guardians of the Galaxy” enough. You’ll want to jam to the ’70s setlist after you leave the theatre.
Music has such a big role in this film from the movie’s opening to it’s final moment. It served as such a big inspiration on set of the film that director James Gunn often played the soundtrack while the crew was on set along with other ’70s tunes. You can check out all of the songs here.
Be on the look out for pop culture references
Since Quill was kidnapped from Earth in 1988, there are many pop cultural nods ranging from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” to Kevin Bacon and “Footloose” to a well-placed Ninja Turtles name drop that may be a very subtle jab to Paramount’s reboot of the ’80s franchise also coming out in August.
Everyone’s been going crazy about some possible Howard the Duck reference in the film. Unless there’s a comic or image hidden obscurely in the background, we didn’t see anything (and there were two of us keeping our eyes out during the screening).
The only problems with the film
“Guardians” partially feels like a filler movie necessaryto lay the groundwork for Marvel’s continuing expanding universe on screen.
The entire film focuses entirely on one of six power-wielding stones and the different groups of people trying to ascertain it for their own personal gain. While, yes, the movie is certainly about the five Guardians Disney and Marvel have been showing off in trailer after trailer, the film’s bigger purpose is presenting the large scope of the Marvel universe and that there’s much more at stake and in play than what we have seen with the Avengers up until now.
Though the film does a good job explaining these powerful gem stones, people will definitely leave the theatre looking for more information unless they have a Marvel comic lord beside them in theatre.
Expect to see a lot of explainers about “Guardians of the Galaxy” start to make their way online as the film comes closer to its release or soon afterward.
The only scene that felt slightly jarring was an opening sequence which asks viewers to devote a lot of emotional investment in characters you have just met. It may be a scene that’s appreciated more when giving the film a second viewing.
Overall, “Guardians” is probably the edgiest movie Marvel Studios has put out yet. It’s a very enjoyable film during a summer that hasn’t produced a lot of must-see blockbusters aside from Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
In case you’re wondering, yes, there will be an end-credits scene. No, we have not seen it yet. Marvel made the decision to not air in during press screenings ahead of the film’s release. In other words, we’ll be seeing it along with all of you!
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is in theatres Friday, August 1. Check out a trailer for the film below:
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