I’ll be honest: until about two years ago, I barely knew anything about Guardians of the Galaxy.
As a comic book fan in my childhood, I had certainly heard about the characters. They certainly were in some volumes of comics I read, but they were sort of on the periphery of the storylines I cared about. They would fly in and out of a few Marvel storylines, almost like cameo appearances, and then as fast as they left, I forgot about them.
Then, my son reintroduced me to the characters on one of his animated shows. And then I heard that they were making a live action movie starring a talking raccoon and a walking tree.
I shrugged my shoulders, and moved along.
Here is a full admission: I was dead wrong.
Guardians of the Galaxy is possibly the best movie of the summer, or at worst maybe the second best; we can argue if Captain America: Winter Soldier is better or not, but they are so close that it is probably not worth splitting hairs. And no, I am not overstating the case one iota.
Guardians is a throwback to the best era of space westerns, the very same genre that hit its zenith with Star Wars. It is a far departure from Marvel’s other icons, like Iron Man and even the Avengers. And in many ways…that is what makes this so great.
I mean, how retro is this movie? Its first key scene with our ‘star’, Peter Quill, being abducted by aliens while playing his “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” mix tape on his…Walkman. This is so retro, I had to explain to my son what the heck a mix tape and Walkman even was; he has never seen a cassette tape.
After years, Quill (played by Chris Pratt) renames himself ‘Starlord’…and gets quite a bit of grief over the name. Quill is a treasure seeker of sorts, a borderline thief that is looting for the ‘big prize’ that will earn him his fortune. Along the way, he meets other trouble makers in the form of Groot and Rocket Raccoon (voiced spectacularly by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, respectively), who if you don’t know already, are the walking tree and talking raccoon I mentioned above. Yeah, it is that weird. And yeah…you will fall in love with both characters.
After being joined by the lovely (but green) Gamora played by Zoe Saldana and thug Drax the Destroyer (professional wrestler Dave Bautista), the motley crew runs from a host of bad guys (led by Ronan, an underling of Thanos, who happens to be the next ‘big bad guy’ in the Avengers galaxy), we have an action filled jaunt through the galaxy, as our erstwhile gang of criminals because the galaxy’s heroes. Without giving too much away, our gang of Guardias is somewhat a mix of the crew of Firefly, mixed with a touch of The Usual Suspects, and then throw in the Han Solo Comedic rogue for good measure.
This movie is so unique from other Marvel movies right now, and is such a departure from most of the tradition science fiction fare we get these days, it is really a pleasure to watch. In every practical way…there is no ‘God-like’ superheroes here. In fact, the only Gods here are the evil villains.
My son loved it, and I am sure I am going to soon get requests for Rocket Raccoon toys in days to come. And Groot? Groot is by far Vin Diesel’s best acting role ever (inside joke; see the movie).
Marvel (and their parent company Disney) continue to surprise me. I never thought they could pull off a movie like this…but they have. They have probably just launched another money-making movie franchise, all with characters that are generally considered ‘fringe’ in the comic book world. This is one of the few must see movies of the summer. This summer has been a drag as far as cinematic entertainment goes…but Guardians of the Galaxy is one shining exception.