The Geek Life: Guardians of the Galaxy, Why it Works (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Friday, August 01, 2014
The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week, the Geek Life is in awe of Guardians of the Galaxy.
When Marvel Entertainment announced at Comic Con in 2013 that they were planning on making a big screen adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, it was the big shock to their up coming slate of films. Everybody expected sequels to Captain America, The Avengers, and Thor. Hell, if they would have thrown Doctor Strange out there, back in 2013, it wouldn’t have been as big of a shock. Unless you read comics and I mean really read comics, most people have no idea who the Guardians of the Galaxy are. Personally, I learned all about them in the pages of “The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe”. Even then, they were just biographies and not really adventures. It wasn’t until the title was relaunched, in the nineties, that I read my first Guardians story. I was hooked for a while. It was a great collection of stories that propelled you into the future of the Marvel Universe. Yet, today, these are not the same Guardians of the Galaxy.
This Bunch of A-Holes
This is a new team of heroes and misfits that have come together to defend the universe. For those that know, Peter Quill’s Guardians of the Galaxy are of the Earth-616 universe and have had members such as Iron Man (Tony Stark) and the new Venom (Flash Thompson). Again, unless you read this storyline, which launched in 2008 and has had 3 volumes since, you still don’t know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are. This is only the first reason as to why the film, Guardians of the Galaxy, works. Fanboys and regular audience members are not going into the theater with any preconceived notion of who or what should be up on screen. There is no one to compare Chris Pratt’s performance with. There is no “the cartoon was better” attitude (BTW Disney has already announced a new cartoon for these characters). If the audience had read any incarnation of the comic, which is few and far between, the majority of them are going in with an open mind. How refreshing.
Now I know there are some Trolls out there who will sing their songs of hate for what Kevin Feige and the entire crew of Marvel have done to some of their characters. Yes, Iron Man will create Ultron in The Avengers sequel, not Hank Pym. A small detail, but like many other things that Marvel has adapted into their cinematic universe, you can’t argue with the numbers. The numbers being ticket sales, home video sales, toy sales, and yes, even comic book sales. I love Marvel Comics. Spider-Man is my all time favorite character. Did I see the Amazing Spider-Man 2? No. That hasn’t kept me from reading the comic or grabbing the occasional Marvel Legends Spider-Man figure. I might not agree with the reboot of the film franchise, but if it keeps the character in the public consciousness, kudos to Marvel. One day I’ll stop reading comics, but a new generation will pick up where I left off. Peter Parker needs to be there to help awkward teenagers overcome their shyness and inspire them with his message. Marvel is in the business to tell stories and make money, which allows them to tell even more stories. So far, I have been thrilled with their big film events. Guardians is an event and one that people will line up to see.
Timing is Everything
Okay, I am at a loss for who many of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy are. Marvel did a wise thing in their audience preparation for the film. They hit us with stunning character posters, YouTube profiles, and a trailer that got us all humming along. That trailer not only introduced us to this motley crew, but it made us laugh and cheer. We were in from the get-go. Don’t believe me? After that trailer premiered and went viral, Blue Swede’s “Hooked on Feeling” had an explosion in sales on iTunes. FYI, if you have the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, you already own the song.
Initially, Marvel teased us with a scene featuring The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) at the end of Thor: The Dark World. It was a “who” and “what is this” moment that got people curious. Next, Marvel spent all their time hitting us with small teases and first looks at this incredible assortment of characters. If you wanted to know who these characters were, you either found out or someone told you over the summer, thus placing the film’s release date in August was another genius idea. We had Captain America in April, Spider-Man in May, X-Men in June, and the entire of month of July to go crazy for Guardians of the Galaxy. Not all of these films are under one studio. However, the branding is still the same, Marvel.
The Cast - Covering Your Bases
It is quickly becoming public knowledge that director, James Gunn, initially had no interest in the fat guy from Parks and Recreation for Star Lord. Pratt was and is still an unknown. All that changes with this film. Yes, he was the voice of Emmet Brickowoski in The LEGO Movie. Even with that success, his face is not one you recognize from a slew of other pictures. In watching Guardians of the Galaxy, we aren’t seeing Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Matt Damon on the screen. We are seeing Peter Quill aka Star Lord. Much like the no name casting for the original Superman, Pratt can be that character without all the previous ties to multiple mediums.
The rest of the cast is as solid as they come. Zoe Saldana already has her Sci-Fi cred with two franchises, Star Trek and Avatar. She’ll bring in the Geeks from two mega properties. Bradley Cooper doing the voice of Rocket Raccoon easily guarantees a 10% boost in sales. The ladies love Cooper. They’ll show up for him no matter what he looks like. Dave Bautista, Drax the Destroyer, brings in a whole different crowd. A former participant of the WWE, Bautista knows the ins and outs of entertaining a mass audience. He also knows how to do stunts. After seeing the film, Bautista’s most memorable moments have nothing to do with his action scenes. It is his comedy that you’ll remember him for.
Karen Gillan and Lee Pace are two faces that most of the normal movie-going public will not recognize. The irony here is that they are almost unrecognizable in the film. No matter, as Gillan also has her Sci-Fi cred and following in being a companion of Doctor Who for multiple seasons. There is a fan base that will turn out to see her in the genre she is known for. Pace is another TV star known for his role as Ned in Pushing Daisies. However, genre fans will know him as King Thanduil in The Hobbit Trilogy.
In short, this collection of actors is simply amazing and brings together a large fan base of multiple properties. I am not ignoring Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) or Vin Diesel (The Fast and The Furious). These two gentlemen only steal every scene they are in, which isn’t bad considering one of them only repeats the same sentence over and over again.
Soundtracks and scores can be a tricky thing. Imagine if Star Wars had a disco type score from the late 1970’s. That score is a classic and one that many films try and live up to. Not every film can have that classic John Williams touch. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t need it. Tyler Bates supplies a great accompaniment to the classic rock from the seventies and early eighties. He did the same thing in The Watchmen. In using music we all recognize, it allows us to identify, in either a small way or a big way, with the characters. Who among us was abducted by aliens and raised in outer space? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Who among us was given music to listen to by our parents? Everyone. Who has used music to get someone to dance with them? See, it works. It is that non Sci-Fi music that helps connect us to the characters. It also allows us some levity to the film. We know Peter Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy will save the day. This is a fun summer popcorn flick produced by the team that brought us The Avengers. It’s all going to be okay in the end, but it has to be one fun ride.
At the screening I went to, days ahead of the official release, I noticed a few things. First up, there was a great mixture of people, which is the usual at a Marvel movie. Afterwards, I was shocked to see how many people brought their little kids. I reminded myself that my parents took me to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and that had more scary scenes in it than Guardians of the Galaxy. So what if the language was a little rough? Repeating lines from movies is really the best way of getting out of trouble and swearing at the same time. The kids will love the adventure and the parents will enjoy the ride .
The t-shirts were also absent. Now, I have been to all the Marvel releases at midnight and there is always someone dressed up, a slew of t-shirts for the characters in the film, and some idiot always brings a toy that makes noise. I expect Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to be a plethora of Rocket Raccoon masks and some guy, who shouldn’t be, painted like Drax the Destroyer.
We wait. The sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy arrives July 28, 2017. In that time we will have a final Hobbit movie, an Avengers sequel, a seventh Star Wars film, and a third Captain America. See? Already, we are up to May 2016. If you really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, as I did, I suggest watching this old Sci-Fi show called Farscape. The similarities are mind blowing, yet, in no way do I feel as if one ripped something off from the other. After all, the original Guardians of the Galaxy comic surfaced in 1969 and Farscape premiered in 1999. It’s all good and it’s all great Sci-Fi.
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