I wrote a very controversial list of what I believe made this movie SUCK
prior to writing this list. I did that for a very specific reason. Call it "clickbait" or trying to rouse the masses. In the end, it's actually to get people to think. Usually for most CBM's we're all relatively divided with solid gripes and arguments for and against on both ends. For Guardians, which I genuinely enjoyed, It seemed a large portion of the community is completely enamored with the film without allowing anything said to the contrary of the films greatness. To do so has been marked with ridicule, or in my experience, marked as a "Champion of the DC cause against Marvel". Most of the readers on CBM that have read my pieces understand I am extremely objective and nitpicky over all types of details. I try to bring something to the table that is different and most of the time, I hit the nail on the head. Other times...well, like I said...I'm really nitpicky, my business partner would say "Pedantic on Steroids". Instead of an In-Depth EF Review, as usual, I chose to do both of these lists instead.
But now that we are here on this Feature, I wanted to focus on the Top 10 reasons I feel this film is indeed amazing. I could give a lot more reasons and I'm sure many of you will post your comments about something you think "I missed", while I'm sure there are a great many things a variety of you felt differently was also 'great', I am writing what I feel as a critic
were the greatest things that made this film absolutely amazing.
10. Welcome to the Marvel Cosmic Universe
Thor and Thor 2 were previews of this aspect, only giving us the 9 realms through Asgardian eyes. We haven't actually seen all 9, we've only glimpsed at a few. Guardians open up a series of films into this expansive universe. All the while as it adds to the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. It's about damn time too!
We get to 'Marvel' at some amazing locales that are springing off the page of our favorite comics. More and more tingly bits of awesomeness are shown of which to glean the future of the MCU and abroad. Glimpses like a possible Adam Warlock appearance, based on the cocoon in the Collectors museum. While many of us are hopeful, if not certain, he will make some form of an appearance. I'm hoping someone like Matt Bomer is in the running to be cast as the insanely powerful avatar. But that's a story for another article.
Everything that comes from a film taking this direction has been about looking out into the cosmos and all the crazy characters the Marvel Universes (yes plural) provides. That, on its own, is among the most exciting aspects of this film that has fueled the media frenzy since its announcement. Not only resting on ceremony but delivering on that promise. While much of the fast paced film only gave us minor glimpses of this expansive universe, we got a very Star Wars-like set of tidbits that we understand but want more expanded material to read about. That's good. That's very good.
To cement the idea for any mainstream readers out there in CBM-land, most of the MCU has been relatively terrestrial. Even the Deep Space Suit for Iron Man was given more of a side note instead of a front row seat during Iron Man 3. Without the Thor and Avengers films, the MCU was dangerously close to becoming like the previous Batman film entries. Great movies, but nothing that can stand toe-to-toe with Cosmically powered beings. Thor was the spark, Avengers the kindling that caught that spark, Thor 2 the fire and now Guardians are the explosion that really welcomes us all into this party in outer space.
While the Marvel Cosmic Universe is enormous, here is a great infographic from Wired Magazine illustrating much of the connections within it!
Now that you took a gander at that cool image, let's move right along!
9. Proof to the Comic Book World a Film Like This Can Rule the Box Office
Take this as a wake up call to both Marvel and DC, you can make a variety of characters in your pantheon work cinematically! The cliche argument has been if a talking Raccoon can overpower the box office, a Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel or even a new Catwoman movie can take proper shape.
This film also broke from the usual musical composition concept we'd expect from a space epic. the Soundtrack was an out-of-this-world, if not amazing & terrestrially grounded in nostalgia; extremely fitting given the simplest of plot devices. Quill's old school Walkman. My only gripe on this was how much music did we miss out on if he had only opened his damn present sooner! Every scene that utilized this old school if not unorthodox soundtrack was amazingly well put together and made perfect emotional sense.
Adding to the great soundtrack was the fact we had little to no origin story for most of these characters short of Quill. We had subtleties within the context of the dialogue as the story progressed. That is not a very simple thing to do. Writers would be compelled naturally to want to talk about how Drax was created, where is Groot from, What planet was Rocket created from. But most of it came in small snippets that gave us an idea. Some of those snippets stuck amazingly close to the source material, others made you wonder what was changed. Eitherway, five stand alone films to breakdown these characters would have delayed this film for another possible 5-8 years. If that.
It's a massive shot across the bough to Marvel's competitors and the licensees still holding some of their properties that they are going to move forward more boldly and make it all work.
8. Huge Battle Sequences
I'm a child of the 70's and growing up watching action movies in the 80's, you get a minor, if not over-indulgent, taste for action films, regardless of their genre. This film certainly delivers on a lot of space battle action among other explosive situations. While I listed my gripes on the various differences in fight choreography of a few characters in my previous article
. The fight choreography is not something that would make or break this film because most of it is minor - even if it could have been far more spectacular. These characters were front and center and in the big battles, especially for the climax of the film, we got so much more. Not just in terms of the action but the emotion drawn from those situations of high drama and tension.
The Nova Corp was somewhat anti-climactic but they came together wonderfully and sacrificed themselves in defense of their home world. Including killing off (so far) what we perceive to have been the first portrayal of one of Marvels future heroes, Nova, Denarian Garthan Saal. Who was in disbelief at taking orders from a hamster. We'll see if he returns in the future with the Nova force behind him. Whether it was Ravagers, Necro-Craft piloted by Sakaraans, the Dark Aster pushing against a massive defense net held together by the Nova Corp or just Quill on his ship the 'Milano', a play on Alyssa Milano's last name, his favorite actress as a kid. The battles were epic, they were fast paced, heart pounding and a ton of fun.
7. Visually Stunning
The art department went crazy for this production. I haven't been this excited visually for one of Marvel's CBM's since Thor 2, prior to that by the first entries of the Spider-Man films. We almost always expect during this day and age that special effects are an automatic thing for films with budgets of this size. But there have been recent CBM's that looked awful and didn't really wow us with the artistic cinemascape. This film did not hold back on the visuals. From the prologue of the film that felt like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the first entrance of Star-Lord jumping toward his ship; seemingly a nod right out of one of the pages of the comic. Everything is just beautiful.
The darkness in the Aster, with the gloom of fanaticism alive in every crevice. The brightness of Xandar and awkward functionally chaotic spaces of the various Ravager ships we encountered; to the buzzing and boisterously loud 'Cantinas' of the Knowhere. Even the generally anesthetic locale of the Kyln were all meticulously well placed.
I didn't have much of an opinion on the Nova Corp because I imagine they were the general appearance of the Nova Corp, not of what we will encounter when we get Nova's first appearance. So I discounted the general look as intended to be more of the 'bridesmaids', not the 'bride'. If that makes any sense. But it all still looked fantastic and brought to life a wonderful alien race we've wanted Marvel to put on screen for a long time.
6. The Kyln
An interesting place that was re-imagined in the film. In the comics it's a set of massive spherical facilities in a string of pearls configuration along the edge of space called the Crunch. However in the film it took over as the conceptual meeting and coming together of our principals in the Guardians group. In the comics they met up in a prison from a race called the Badoon. Here in the film the Badoon took on the form of the Sakaraan race used by Ronan with their 'Necro Craft'.
This location posed a variety of interesting encounters with various alien races and subtle back story information drops. Not only did it provide the means for our protagonists to come together, it gave us a lot more background and produced moments that helped us crystallize who these characters were. From Rocket's quick thinking on his feet to his quirky dark comedy. Groot's simple innocence and immediate need to aid his friend and companion. Quill's recklessness for his memento of his childhood and lasting sentiment toward his mother. We even see how Drax gains and loses patience and rage. To Gamora's willingness to survive and focus on a greater purpose than herself. There is a lot given to us in the Kyln. It essentially began to temper this team together in a fire of camaraderie.
In the comics the Kyln is a place we encounter Thanos fighting the Beyonder as part of the spark of the Annihilation Wave story arc. In the first set of his eponymous comics subtitled "The Samaritan".
Not only wonderful visuals and interestingly varied characters, like Nathan Fillion voicing an alien that got the nose-pick from hell by Groot, but many others that will keep fans guessing, guessing some more and theorizing for some time about who else they caught a glimpse of in the film.
I had speculated about how strange or weird it would be for Knowhere to be placed in this film. A Mos Eisley sort of location for outlaws and the like. I had wondered about the grandeur of the concept in this film and if it would be too awkward to add into the MCU because it is essentially a place to observe the edge of the universe in the comic books.
We got so much more out of it. Even if the scale and size was hard to fathom in terms of proportion it was extremely awesome to see on film. The mining concept, harvesting all of the celestial material inside was just phenomenal. Instead of it being the Guardians base of operations (at this time), like in the comics, it was an operation maintained by the Collectors Tivan Group.
Knowhere in the film housed Tivan's museum, or at least one of his museum's as I imagine we'll see more of later. We even get to see a glimpse of its comic book caretaker, Cosmo, who/which is part of his museum and is set free later on after some of it was destroyed. Not to mention the random throw away scene with Howard the Duck. Even though it's been said by the director it was a joke. I wonder if it will ever be retconned or utilized that Howard was a member of the experiments performed on Halfworld. Whether or not that would be interesting...who knows! But I still wouldn't mind seeing a Dark Overlord of the Universe in one of Tivan's museums.
4. Yondu Udonta & the Ravagers
For a long time everyone wondered if we would see Yondu's famous Mohawk from the comics, and while we never did, he was an amazing character on the screen. Michael Rooker was a badass. In the comics his abilities are similar if slightly different from the films; Yondu usually controls an arrow he shoots from a bow, but has nowhere near the same exacting control to commit the carnage demonstrated in the film.
In the comics Yondu was also part of bringing the Guardians together and making them a team. Here he is the leader of the Ravagers. A very interesting twist on origins and character interactions that worked out extremely well to tie Quill to his 'ancient alien' father.
Yondu felt like an amalgam of his comic book character with recently-made Disney characters, Like Lando Calrissian and Cad Bane. Equal parts warrior, scoundrel and bounty hunter. All the while extremely likable even when you think he's going to kill off random people tyrannically, or possibly allow them to eat said people. You know...because they've never tried Terran before.
Yondu's scenes and addition in the film gave us a lot of extra characters from these stories among his Ravagers. Some of which were cameo's, like Sean Gunn, the directors brother who played Kraglin. His ability to lead a massive onslaught on a being that was thought to be too powerful to strike against showed a glimmer of what we can expect from Yondu down the road.
3. Peter Quill
Even though this was an ensemble cast of a rag-tag team of misfits, Chris Pratt was simply perfect. He was completely capable of turning on the right emotion for each situation. Not only was he believable as a hero, he was believable as a tough guy. Even though I don't agree with all of the demonstrations of his ability. Like fully handling Gamora without completely breaking a sweat (in my opinion). Either way, he was still extremely clever and formidable.
The source of comedy provided by Pratt as this character was mostly over-the-top, but welcome and refreshing to see that this aspect of the comics was mostly preserved. Let's face it, very few of the members of this team are formidable enough to actually take on some of the cosmic beings they deal with in their adventures, short of Drax who is virtually indestructible. However, Pratt has us believe that it is all possible. Even the ridiculously cheesy dance-off anti-climactic distraction was funny as all hell. Odd, but funny none-the-less...Normally that kind of comedy would throw comic fan purists in a film. But because of the level of comedy in these comics it was par for the course on the big screen.
Pratt also conveyed an amazing level of badassdom in a variety of scenes. From his first encounter with Korrath, which was more of a nod to Indiana Jones, to various moments in the Kyln. Dude also butched up properly in size and was no whimpy looking slouch.
Through the sorcery of CGI and the alchemic mixing of Vin Diesels voice with the philosophy & psychology of a singular language based on 3 words, five if you count "...We are...", made Groot a phenom on the screen! A wonderful character whose innocence made us smile. Most folks, unless they've read the comics, wouldn't know that Groot is actually a very young member of his race. The adults are many times larger and much more massive.
His child-like wonder and sweetness, even for a character that posed more like the muscle of the group than Drax actually did, Grott was so frail with emotion it was extremely enchanting to watch and set him apart as just mere muscle.
Even though we didn't understand what he was saying most of the time we completely understood by looking at his face, by the inflection in his voice. How he looked at Rocket.
I'm sure we've all completely swooned over the cuteness overload as he was coming back to life in the pot and when he was dancing to the music at the end of the film. Groot almost completely stole the film for all of us. I'm not sure this character could have been put together any better than what we saw. All we can hope for is more of him in the future. Which thankfully we will be getting a lot of.
1. Rocket Raccoon
That moment you realize Rocket saved more people from death on Xandar than Superman in Man of Steel you're mind should be blown. It's not a surprise this character has become (universally) one of the most beloved characters of the film, if not in Marvel as a whole (at the moment).
A large amount of Rocket's origins seem to be adhered to, whether we're getting the retconned version where he ultimately was the crazy patient or if he was "Ranger" in the past on Halfworld is yet to be known. However, Rocket gave us a lot of himself in the film. A fearless, selfless sharing of emotion and frailty.
This character was everything we were hoping for. From the hilarious antics he was pulling to his anti-hero style of 'heroics'. He was ultimately the fan favorite in the film. Some folks would have preferred a more 'down-under' accent to his vocals but I have to say Bradley Cooper was excellent in the role. He delivered the character beautifully and naturally.
I of course wanted to see him blow more shit up. That goes without saying.
Do you agree? Are you among the few that didn't like the film? Is there something you loved not mentioned in this listing? Tell me, I would like to know. Comment, tweet, share, pin, form an opinion. Ignore the trolls and as always click that giant red thumb. It makes us all very snappy around here.