“What a bunch of A-Holes.”

Guardians of the Galaxy first debuted on comic book shelves in 1969. It starred a team of superheroes defending the solar system from alien invasion in a far off future. It was based in an alternate continuity, and outside of the name had virtually nothing in common with today’s movie so let’s just forget I even mentioned it.

Why it’s all your favourite characters! Square-man! Blue Land Shark! And Princess Sparkly Hands (later re-named Groot).

Why, it’s all your favourite characters! Square-man! Cosmic Bunny! Blue Land Shark! And Princess Sparkly Hands! (later re-named Groot).

Let’s talk instead about Cosmic Marvel. The modern Marvel era began with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #1. This kicked off an explosion of creativity in the Marvel offices with most of the really iconic Marvel characters being created in the span of a few short years. And the Fantastic Four was always the engine room of this new burgeoning universe, acting as a central hub from which all the other characters spun out from. I mentioned in the Fantastic Four review just how much of the early building blocks of the Marvel universe were crafted in that one book. Now, as superheroes, the Fantastic Four were less about beating up muggers and more about exploration, charting new planets, galaxies and whole other dimensions. Pretty soon, the Fantastic Four had established a massive supporting cast of “cosmic beings”; Gods, living planets, alien warlords of incredible power and menace who stood astride all eternity in Wagnerian splendour. Combined with these heady concepts was the surreal, mind-expanding art of artists like Jack Kirby. This was a big reason why Marvel comics became such a sensation on American college campuses in the sixties. These things were trippy, man.

Plus, after you’ve read it, the thin paper is great for rolling.

Plus, after you’ve read it, the thin paper is great for rolling.

Even after the sixties, with Stan Lee largely pulling back from writing duties and Jack Kirby’s acrimonious departure from Marvel, new writers like Jim Starlin helped keep the Marvel universe cosmic and weird. But then…the eighties.

The huge success of Frank Millar’s Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen led to a sea change of audience expectations as to what comics should be. Both Marvel and DC shifted emphasis to gritty, street level stories featuring characters with few (if any) superpowers. At DC, this meant giving a major push to Batman and his supporting cast, at Marvel it meant an increased emphasis on Daredevil, Wolverine and the Punisher. And it also meant that the cosmic characters were pretty much benched. Oh, they made appearances now and then, but chances were if you were a character with a name like Lyja the Lazer Fist who wanted to get in a comic after 1986 you were shit out of luck. Then came the nineties which…let’s…just…no…and this sidelining of the Cosmic characters continued, as they were obviously too silly for the super realistic Dark Age of Comics.

We needed gritty, realistic heroes. Like Shadowhawk. He had AIDS.

We needed gritty, realistic heroes. Like Shadowhawk.                      He had AIDS.

But finally, in 2006, Marvel released Annihilation, a massive event that took their previously ignored cosmic characters and threw them into a massive war to save the universe from the dread forces of ANNIHILUS, RULER OF THE NEGATIVE ZONE!

IT.

WAS.

AWESOME.

If you just want pure, epic, batshit-insane space opera then Annihilation is your drug. It also re-introduced many of the characters who feature in this movie, like Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Ronan to the modern comic-reading audience. But it wasn’t until the sequel (2007’s equally awesome Annihilation Conquest) that we first saw something even resembling, sort of, if you squint, the movie version of the Guardians of the Galaxy in as much as you had Star Lord leading a team of alien criminals and misfits that included Rocket Racoon and Groot. Even so, these are very, very different from the characters you know and hopefully love. This, for example, is Groot circa 2007-08.

"Futility is beneath Groot." is a much better catchphrase, honestly.

“Futility is beneath Groot.” is a much better catchphrase, honestly.

The reason I bring this up is that, compared to the previous movies in the series, GotG  is playing fairly fast and loose with the source material. This, I think, represents a more confident, assertive MCU that’s saying “okay, we’ve figured out what works. We’re going to do that, and if we have to ding the material a bit to get it in the right shape, so be it.” How did that work out? Well, it’s the third most critically acclaimed Marvel Studios movie of all time and grossed almost 800 million dollars despite featuring some of the most obscure comic book characters this side of Egg-Fu so probably fairly okay. But is the acclaim earned? Is GotG actually any GooD? Is futility beneath Groot? All these questions, and more!, shall be answered.

So we begin in 1988, where a young boy named Peter Quill is listening to “I’m not in Love” by 10cc on his Sony Walkman in a hospital corridor. His uncle comes and brings him into a hospital room where his mother is lying in bed surrounded by family members. Which, okay, looks bad. But hey, maybe she’s turned the corner and is going to be fine?

Aw shit, no, she’s bald and bathed in an angelic glow. She’s a goner. Her last name might as well be “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.”

Aw shit, no, she’s bald and bathed in an angelic glow. She’s a goner. Her last name might as well be “Beep…Beep….Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.”

Anyway his mother sees that his face is bruised and asks if he’s been fighting with the other boys. Which, duh, of course he has. It’s the eighties. Back in the eighties the male population under fifteen was roughly eighty percent bully. She gives him a present to open when she’s gone and tells him that his father was an angel and that he’ll be back to look after him. She then stretches out her hand to him but he’s too distraught to take it and of course that’s the moment she decides to die because, y’know, movies.

Utterly devastated, Peter runs out of the hospital into the night and promptly gets abducted by an alien spaceship.

eighties

Eighties, man.

 Flashforward 26 years and little Peter has grown up to become Chris Pratt (we should all be so lucky). Quill arrives on Morag, a desolate, rain-swept wilderness devoid of intelligent life that’s not Co. Longford. Taking out his Walkman he turns on Come and Get Your Love by Redbone and dances around an alien cavern while punting alien rat lizards around like hackey sacks. All while the movie title looms overhead in massive, “fuck you” yellow letters. As a display of movie braggadacio it’s up there with Inglourious Basterds”“I think I just painted my masterpiece”: Yes. We made a movie starrin’ a frickin’ nobody like Star Lord. And soundtracked it with cheesy seventies and eighties hits. Because we’re Marvel. And we CAN.

tite

To quote MovieBob: “While Marvel is making a movie starring a talking racoon and his magical tree friend, DC is trying to figure out if putting some kid in a Robin costume is too out there.”

While exploring, Peter finds a round shaped Maguffin in a special round shaped Maguffin box but is instantly captured by Korath the Pursuer, played by Djimon Hounsou.

“I’ll take fantastic black actors cast in nothing parts in Marvel movies for 200, Alex.”

“I’ll take fantastic black actors cast in nothing parts in Marvel movies for 200, Alex.”

Peter tries to pretend that he’s just a salvage merchant but Korath’s not buying it because he’s wearing Ravager Garb or, as Korath calls it “Ravager GAAAAAAAAHRB!”. Korath demands to know his name and Peter tells him it’s “Star Lord” with the same tone  and dramatic pause I use when people ask me the name of my blog and with exactly the same result.

"Unshaved what?"

“Unshaved what?”

But Peter proves that just because no one’s ever heard of him doesn’t mean that his blog isn’t really good you guys he can’t kick all kinds of ass and overpowers Korath and his troops and makes a deathdefing escape with the MacGuffin in his spaceship, the Milano. Said escape ends up flying the ship upside down which wakes the Krylorian girl, Bereet, that Peter had slept with the night before and totally forgotten was still in the ship. This is supposed to establish that Peter is a bit of a douche but honestly, even douchebags remember who they had sex with even if they don’t treat them well so to me it seems more like Peter is suffering short-term memory loss from all the bangs to the head he got in the escape.

"Bereet, Im gonna be totally honest with you: Bicycle tuna smurgle smargle..."

“Bereet, I’m gonna be totally honest with you: Bicycle tuna smurgle smargle…”

Peter gets a call from his boss/surrogate father/potential food chain superior Yondu, a blue-skinned alien played by Michael Rooker (who needs to be in everything). Yondu’s pissed because he arrived on Morag to get the orb (the MacGuffin) only to find that Peter had gotten their already and stolen his lunch. Yondu reminds Quill that he could have eaten when he abducted him on Terra but he didn’t and oh man, I feel for Peter here. My mother’s always throwing stuff like that in my face “You could have been in the half of the litter I did eat, y’know.” Yeah. Thanks for only eating thirteen of my brothers and sisters, Mom. Anyway, Peter basically tells Yondu that he’s going to sell the orb for himself and to have a good life. Yondu then puts a bounty on Peter’s head and tells the other other ravagers that he’s going to kill Peter himself, but what they should really be worried about is who else wants the orb.

Alright, since we all know the orb is actually an infinity stone, that can only mean that the one who wants the orb is Than…what the hell? Ronan the Accuser? Really? Well, okay. So Ronan (Lee Pace) is chilling on his warship, the Dark Aster after a long hard day of killing Xandarians. See, in this movie at least, Ronan does not like Xandarians, and even though his people the Kree have signed a peace treaty with them, he continues to attack their worlds as a terrorist and an outlaw and I will get into why this is dry-heavingly awful later on. Korath tells Ronan that the orb was taken by Star Lord and Ronan sends one his henchmen, Gamora (Zoe Saldana, weirdly playing a green alien hottie in the science fiction franchise she’s in that doesn’t feature James T. Kirk) to track Quill down. So Gamora, like her “sister” Nebula (Karen Gillen), is one of Thanos’ adopted daughters. See, Thanos has a habit of taking orphans and raising them to be unstoppable soldiers in his personal war. Kinda like Batman. But for some reason Gamora and Nebula are working for Ronan because…I dunno, Thanos is running a temp agency? It’s really unintuitive.

Anyway, Peter arrives on Xandar and tries to sell the Orb to an alien named The Broker and holy shit!

Samuel Beckett! Is that you?!

Samuel Beckett! Is that you?!

But, as soon as the Broker hears that Ronan is also after the Orb he refuses to have anything to do with it and throws Peter out of his shop. Peter gets jumped by Gamora who takes the Orb from him. He tears off after him and manages to catch but then they both get jumped by a talking racoon and his giant tree friend friend who both wandered in from a Hanna Barbera cartoon from the late sixties.

rocket-and-groot

So these two are Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), two bounty hunters who’re trying to cash in the price on Quill’s head. Both characters are absolute highlights of the movie. Cooper puts a definitive stamp on a character whose characterisation prior to this was all over the place, often being re-invented for each new appearance. It’s a really good vocal performance, funny and suitably cartoonish, but also finding real depths of rage and pain to the character that are all the more powerful because you don’t expect them to come from a talking racoon. Diesel’s great too of course, and the way he finds so many different ways to say “I am Groot” is kind of amazing in and off itself. Diesel was actually deep in mourning when he made the film, having lost his close friend Paul Walker in a car accident. He said that playing such a mellow character who was so naturally happy and at peace helped him get through his depression. The only other thing to say about these two is that the effects work is phenomenal, so good you very, very quickly forget that you’re even looking at special effects.

So Peter, Rocket, Gamora and Groot are all arrested by the Nova Corps. In the comics, the Nova Corps are the Marvel counterpart of the Green Lanterns, a legion of superpowered cosmic defenders. Here though, they’re basically just cops with spaceships which is a bit of a come down honestly. The arresting officer is a guy called Rhomann Dey (John C. O’Reilly) whose actually a pretty nice guy. He’s friendly with Peter and even reassures him that it’s not weird that he calls himself “Star Lord” even though, let’s face it, it can only mean that Quill is dealing with deep psychological trauma. All five are sentenced to the Kyln, a brutal corrupt prison on the edge of Xandarian space, without even getting a trial. Oh, and the Xandarians are the good guys. Arriving at the Kyln, Peter sees one the guards messing with his walkman and listening to Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede. Peter goes berserk because both the song and the tape were gifts from his mother and starts yelling “THAT SONG BELONGS TO ME!” which causes the guard to taze the shit out of him.

"Music doesnt belong to anyone! Music is about freedom, man!"

“Music doesn’t belong to anyone! Music is about freedom, man!”

But bad as Petey’s got it, Gamora has it even worse. There’s a lot of people in the Kyln who want to see her dead, and at the head of the queue is Drax, a massive alien warrior played by Dave Bautista. And holy shit but Bautista just came out of nowhere with this. I think people expected that he could pull off playing a big tough guy, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be this damn good! It’s not a “good for a wrestler” performance, it’s a “this actor is giving an excellent turn” performance. He’s got fantastic presence, his comic chops are sharp as hell and he nails the big emotional beats effortlessly. With one role he vaulted into the hallowed ranks of Wrestlers Who Became Movie Stars, joining the Rock and…um…

Maybe?

Anyway. Peter and Rocket see some inmates carrying Gamora off in the middle of the night and find Drax about to kill her. Drax wants revenge on Gamora because his wife and daughter were killed by Than…WHAT?! RONAN KILLED DRAX’S FAMILY?! WHAT?! WHAT?!

This is just an insane change to me. In the comics, Drax the Destroyer wants to destroy Thanos. That’s pretty much all he wants. That’s why the call him “The Destroyer”. That’s what they’re referring to. In that scenario, Thanos would be the destroyee. He was actually created specifically for the purpose of killing Thanos. So changing the target of Drax’s rage from Thanos to Ronan is just baffling to me. Hell, even this scene where Drax says “He killed my family, I shall kill one of his in return.” The scene works so much better if he’s talking about killing the daughter of the man who killed his daughter! Why did they change this?! I just…I…like…whatever, moving on. Peter convinces Drax that Ronan will be coming for Gamora so he’s better off letting her live. Gamora reveals to Quill and Rocket that she has a buyer  lined up for the orb and that if they can help her break out she’ll take them to him and split the profit between them. Rocket is confident that he can break out because he’s broken out of 26 prisons previously, because he’s really good at breaking out of prison and really, really terrible at not getting arrested. So that’s the plan; Rocket busts them out, Peter gets the orb, Gamora brings them to the buyer and Drax tags along to get revenge on Ronan (sigh). Everybody wins.

So now we have our five heroes and they’re all great, which is good, because my lord the villain side of things is an absolute garbage fire. So let’s talk about the problem with Ronan. Now, Ronan is pretty flat and generic but I will admit that he is at least functional. He presents a credible threat to the heroes and as a basic mechanism of the story he does what he needs to do. But I have three big problems with Ronan the Accuser as a villain. Firstly, and I realise this is not something the production team could have anticipated, Ronan is my father in law’s name and the only thing he’s ever accused me of is not looking after my lawn.

Which, y’know. Fair.

More seriously though, this is just a waste of a really interesting character. Ronan in the comics is basically Alien Judge Dredd with a hammer. He is a lawman of the Kree empire and enforces the law of the Kree on every world he arrives on. He is mightily powerful, tactically brilliant and utterly devoted to the law. Even when he’s framed for crimes he didn’t do (happens a lot), he still enforces the law. He’s a prick, but one with a code of honour a mile wide. Now, characters like this, from Javert to Robocop, are always fascinating to me and just throwing that away to make Ronan a generic omnicidal maniac is just sloppy adaptation, diluting an awesome character who could have been used much more effectively further down the line. And this brings me to my third and final point: Why is Ronan even in this? Everything that he does in the movie could have been done by another character who is JUST SITTING THERE.

LITERALLY.

Honestly, if you swapped out Ronan for Thanos everything becomes so much neater and tidier. You don’t need to shoe-horn in a war between Xandar and the Kree Empire. The Nova Corps are trying to stop Thanos because they’re cops and he’s a galaxy endangering psychopath. You don’t need to jump through hoops to explain why Gamora and Nebula are working for Ronan, just have them working for Thanos like they’re supposed to. Why do you need Ronan hunting for an infinity gem?! That’s pretty much Thanos’ whole freaking deal! And here’s another problem. This movie is where Marvel really needed to start selling us on Thanos as a credible threat and not only does he do nothing he’s actually made significantly less impressive and threatening as the movie goes on. Like, take this scene for example:

Ronan is summoned before Thanos by The Other who tells him that Thanos has learned that Gamora has betrayed him. The Other says “Your partnership with Thanos is now in danger.” as though this is Ronan’s fault and not because Thanos is running a really shitty temp agency. Ronan appears before Thanos and is justifiably pissed, pointing out that this is Thanos’ mess to clean up and when the Other yells at him to watch his mouth Ronan kills him right there and then. And Thanos. Does. Nothing.

He just swivels around in his chair and tells Ronan that his politics bore him and that it’s totally his fault for “alienating” Gamora and tells him to just get the Orb already.

Guys. We got a serious problem here. Marvel are banking on Thanos being able to anchor not one, but two of what will probably end up being some of the most expensive movies of all time and this character is not ready for prime time. He’s got no meaningful relationship with any of the heroes. He’s got not compelling motivation. He’s just a big blue dud. Let’s recap: one of Thanos’ most trusted lieutenants has betrayed him and in doing so has stolen something that he wants more than anything, and has thrown a valuable alliance into jeopardy. A smart Thanos would be tearing planets apart with his bare hands looking for Gamora and making sure that every. Last. Sentient. Being. Learns what happens when you betray Thanos. He would not be telling his already understandably pissed ally “nuh-uh, this is totally your fault and anyway who cares, politics boring waah waah”. Then there’s the matter of Ronan killing Thanos’ henchman right in front of him.

Consider another science fiction villain who spends most of his time  swivelling around in a nice comfortable chair.

“You cannot comprehend the true power of good lumbar support.”

Imagine, if you will, someone came into Palpatine’s throne room and, to make a point, casually killed one of his guys in the red dresses right in front of him.

“Hey! It’s a robe!”

Sure it is. Anyway. What do you think Palps’ reaction would be?

Exactly. And not because Palpatine cares about the lives of the people who serve under him. It’s because killing his underlings is a pretty blatant sign of disrespect, something no tyrant can afford to let pass because a tyrant who people aren’t afraid of any more is a dead tyrant. Having Ronan be able to kill the Other with no repercussions just makes Thanos look even lamer than he already is.

Back at the side of the narrative that’s actually working, Rocket lays out his escape plan to the others, the last part of which involves stealing a battery from the alarm system. Unfortunately, Groot misunderstands and takes the battery first which triggers a prison lock down and Groot has to fight of a load of flying robots.

“FUTILITY IS BENEATH GROOT!”

But Rocket manages to turn off the artificial gravity and the five escape with the orb, Rocket’s weapons, Peter’s Walkman and a lot of fond memories and interesting anecdotes. They head for Knowhere, a space colony carved out of the head of a dead space god. While waiting for their contact to show up, Groot, Frax and Rocket take in some gambling while Gamora and Peter share a quiet moment on the balcony. He lets her listen to his Walkman, explaining that the tape contains all the songs that his mother recorded for him. Oh, and then he tries to teach her of the thing the Earth men call “kissing”. Dun go well.

“Dammit Captain Kirk made this look so easy!”

Kissy stabby time is cut short, however, when a bar fight breaks out between Rocket and Drax. Rocket is drunk and pissed (as in angry, I’m not just repeating myself) because Drax called him “vermin” and gives an impassioned monologue about how he didn’t ask to be a weird freakish talking animal in a human world who’ll never belong anywhere. It’s actually fucking heart-breaking but maybe that’s just me.

“Stop looking at me like that. I don’t need your pity, damn you!”

Drax storms off alone and The Collector’s slave, Carina, arrives to bring them to him. The Collector, (Benecio Del Toro) asks to see the orb and gives them a little exposition since they’ve come all this way and why not? So the six infinity stones are older than Methusalah, actually predating the universe itself. The Collector explains that only seriously powerful beings, like, guys who have a 10 in all categories on their Marvel Top Trumps card, can wield an Infinity Stone and that these beings could wipe out entire planets at a stroke. He says that once a bunch of regular dudes did manage to wield the orb for a few moments but then went blooey.  Carina decides she likes them odds and grabs the stone to try and kill The Collector because he’s a really bad boss. Instead she ends up burning herself to crisp from the inside out and blowing up the Collector’s entire museum. Gamora freaks out, telling the others that the Orb is too dangerous that they have to give it to the Nova Corps. Both Rocket and Peter are a little leery about calling Galactic Five Oh but suddenly they realise that they have a bigger problem. Namely, Drax has done a very silly thing.

Drax got bored waiting for Ronan to show up, so he broadcast a message of “Come at Me Bro!”, letting Ronan know where the orb was. So while Ronan beats Drax like a rented mule who slept with his wife, Gamora tries to escape with the orb in a maintenance pod but gets shot down by Nebula who takes the orb and am-scrays. Gamora’s body drifts in space and Rocket tells Peter that they have no choice but to leave her. But, in Knowhere they say, Peter Wuill’s assholishness shrunk three sizes that day. He radios Yondu, letting him know where he is and then he floats out into space and gives Gamora his breathing mask.

This scene feels really implausible because we’ve seen people exposed to the vacuum of space so many times in movies and it looks nothing like this. But actually, those depictions have almost always been horrendously wrong and Guardians comes a lot closer to an accurate depiction of what unprotected exposure to deep space would look like. For starters, you wouldn’t explode and your eyes wouldn’t pop out of your head because the human body is actually crazy good at keeping itself pressurised. Likewise, you don’t suddenly freeze solid because it’s not like being dunked in freezing cold water. It’s not like being dunked in freezing cold anything because there is literally nothing there. You wouldn’t even feel cold because there would be nothing touching your body for your nerves to register a temperature off of. Now, you will freeze eventually as the heat from your body radiates out with nothing to replace it but you’ll suffocate long before that becomes a problem.  

Meanwhile Ronan calls up Thanos and tells him that he now knows that the Orb is an infinity stone and he has it soooo…why does he even need Thanos? Why, indeed, do any of us? Thanos tells Ronan to reconsider his current course of action and Ronan doesn’t listen and wow, it’s almost like Thanos is completely impotent and unthreatening. Ronan tells Thanos that he’s going to wipe out Xandar and then he’s coming for him and then he hangs up on Thanos. Jesus Marvel, it’s like you’re trying to make this guy look like the biggest putz in the galaxy. Ronan asks Nebula if she’s okay with murdering her Dad and she’s all “Are you kidding, that’s every bald-headed angsty emo chick’s dream!”

Back on Knowhere, Groot pulls Drax out of the pool of Celestial Ear Wax that Ronan left him in and resuscitates him. Drax is ashamed of his actions and tells Groot that his lust for vengence is a cover to mask the grief he feels over the death of his wife and daughter. Rocket returns and tells them that Peter and Gamora have been captured by the Ravagers and that they need to run as far as they can before Ronan kicks off his genocidal rampage tour. But Groot says that they need to rescue Pete and Gamora because they’re the only friends he and Rocket have ever known. Okay, he actually says “I am Groot”, but you gotta parse these things. Rocket reluctantly agrees and they intercept the Ravager ship and threaten to blow it up if they don’t hand over Peter and Gamora. Peter, meanwhile, has just convinced Yondu to join him and get the orb from Ronan, using Gamora’s knowledge of his forces to give them an edge. All they need now is a plan, so Peter, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket argue in the Ravager’s rec room as to what to do next Peter’s only got 12% of a plan which, as Gamora points out, is barely even a concept.

Peter may not have a plan, but he does have the next best thing: an inspiring speech, and being Chris Pratt he’s actually pretty good at those. He tells the others: “Do you know what I see when I look at us? Losers. I mean like, folks who have lost stuff. And we have, man, we have, all of us. Homes, and our families, normal lives. And you think life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it’s giving us something. It is giving us a chance. To give a shit. And I am not gonna stand by and watch as billions of lives are being wiped out.”

“It be a fine speech, laddy.”

One by one they agree to fight, until they are all standing in a circle.

Bunch’a jackasses.

So this movie is about deeply flawed people coming together to form something greater. Each one of the Guardians has to overcome some flaw to take their place in the team; Quill has to overcome his selfishness, Gamora her guilt, Drax his rage, Rocket his bitterness and Groot…well Groot is perfect in every way so there’s really not that much room for growth as a character, y’know? But now, all our main characters are where they need to be and the team is finally formed.

So the Guardians, the Ravagers and the Nova Corp join forces to try and stop the Dark Aster from reaching the surface of the planet Xandar with the orb. The Guardians board the Aster and battle Ronan but he’s now on another level, power-wise. The Guardians look like they’re goners until Rocket divebombs the Aster with his ship. The Aster’s power begins to fail and the ship starts falling straight towards the planet’s surface. To save his friends, Groot envelops them in a cocoon of branches even though, as Rocket tearfully says, it’ll kill him. And so, Groot gives his life for this sinful world.

“SUPERMAN.”

 The Aster crashlands and Ronan staggers from the wreckage and yells at the terrified Xandarians like a drunk uncle at a wedding, telling them that the end has come. He’s just about to bring the orb down and destroy everything when he suddenly sees Peter challenging him to dance off.

Poor guy. He hit his head so many times he thinks this is the end of a Dreamworks movie.

And I will admit, while I’m not really a fan of Pace’s performance as Ronan, his bemused and slightly scared “What are you doing?” is just glorious here. What Peter is doing, of course, is distracting Ronan so that Drax and Rocket can shoot the orb out of his weapon which Peter then catches. Holding the orb with your bare hands, attentive readers will recall, is ill advised at best and Peter instantly starts going to pieces.

“YOU AH TEARING ME AHPART ORB!”

Yes. I made a Room joke in 2017. I’m too old to change.

Gamora yells at Peter to take his hand but when he looks at her he sees his mother which honestly is a problem with a lot of guys. But he takes her hand and she too starts screaming in agony and glowing purple and having bits break off her and go floating away like wafer thin apple slices. Drax naturally sees this and thinks it looks rather fun and he grabs Peter and then Rocket takes Drax’s hand and that’s enough for them to control the orb’s power and they blast Ronan and defeat him through the power of friendship.

The Guardians are perfectly fine after all this and apparently have suffered no ill effects which frankly I find a little hard to buy.

I mean look at him! He looks like he was made by Ravensburger!

The battle’s over but Peter now has to give Yondu the orb which he very unwillingly does. But Peter has actually switched the infinity stone with a troll doll. As they fly off, one of Yondu’s men says that it was probably good they never delivered Peter to his father like they were hired to all those years ago and Yondu replies, “Yeah, that guy was a jackass.”

Mystery solved.

The Guardians are pardoned by the head of the Nova Corp, Nova Prime who is played by Glen Frickin’ Close. Jesus, at the rate the Marvel movies are working their way up the Hollywood food chain it’s only a matter of time before Meryl Streep appears in one of these things. Ooh! I know!

How many Oscars do you want, Marvel?

 And so the movie ends with Peter, Gamora, Drax and Rocket heading out for new adventures amongst the stars. Oh, and Groot’s a baby now.

***

Guardians was a huge gamble for Marvel but it paid off and then some. The movie does a great job (mostly) of knitting the non-Fantastic Four related cosmic elements into a cohesive universe. It looks great, it sounds great, it has a distinctive vibe all its own and it has genuinely funny and likeable characters. If it’s not the best movie space opera outside of the Star Wars franchise then it’s certainly close. But it’s not perfect, and if the MCU starts to go off the rails around the time of Infinity War, I think that this movie may end up shouldering a lot of the blame. Fingers crossed that’s not the case.

Scoring

Adaptation 14/25

A real mixed bag here. Some of the changes made to the characters (mostly on the hero side) are absolutely for the better. But a lot of meat got trimmed with the fat and I can’t help wishing we’d gotten to see more authentic versions of Ronan and the Nova Corps.

Our Heroic Heroes 24/25

Just a really well put together team. Everyone fills their niche, the performances are all great and the group dynamic is rock solid.

Our Nefarious Villain 08/25

Ronan and Thanos should sue, honestly.

Our Plucky Sidekicks 24/25

A universe full of weird-looking, interesting characters.

The Stinger

Baby Groot trolls Drax by only dancing to The Jackson Five when he’s not looking.

And the audience went

I WANT ONE!

The Second Stinger

As the Collector sits in the ashes of his former home, his dog Cosmo licks him. “Why do you let him lick you like that? Gross.” Says a voice, and we pan around to see…Howard the Freaking Duck.

And the Audience went

Those that recognised him anyway. Everyone else was probably going “What’s Donald Duck doing here?” 

Infinity Gem Count: 4

DING! DING! DING! Technically we get to see all six but outside of flashbacks the plot revolves around the Orb, or the Power Gem to its mates.

Wait a minute, was that Stan Lee?!

That was Stan Lee, bein’ a Class A prevert on Xandar.

Any names of comic book characters clunkily worked into dialogue that no one would ever say in real life?

“Behold! Your Guardians of the Galaxy!”

Hey, what’s Thanos doing?

Thanos is pissing away his chance to establish himself as a credible threat. While sitting in his chair.

FINAL SCORE: 70%

NEXT UPDATE: 23 March 2017

NEXT TIME: Had to happen, didn’t it?

34 comments

  1. My favorite Marvel film. and until Civil War is was far from close. It reminded me of watching the first episode of Justice League, seeing these great heroes meat, bicker, and save a world together.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks Squirrel Girl looks like she was paid a visit from the Other Mother in that picture?

    1. In her current series, she takes a dig at how stupid her makeup used to look. Apparently that was like her teenage goth phase.

  3. I actually do enjoy Ronan as a villain.
    1. The first time we see him he literally bathes in the blood of his enemies. Not only is that delightfully disturbing, it is such a great example of Marvel getting crap past the radar.
    2. He is believable powerful, meaning that I am actually invested when the team goes up against him.
    3. There is something really satisfying of taking a character which is basically a terrorist, ham him up and then ending him in a dance off.

  4. After Ronan killed the Other, I was fully expecting the scene to end with the Other standing up and popping his neck back into place. Looking back, I really wish they had done that. It would explain Thano’s non-reaction and it would show that Ronan is really out of his depth here, dealing with beings so powerful that even the manservant of the place can just shrug off grievous injuries.

    1. I recall right after the first Avengers movie came out there was speculation that The Other was going to reveal himself to be Mephisto, who would either become the true Big Bad in Infinity War or become the new one after Thanos after the fact. Obviously, neither option is on the table now…

  5. “My mother’s always throwing stuff like that in my face “You could have been in the half of the litter I did eat, y’know.” Yeah. Thanks for only eating thirteen of my brothers and sisters, Mom.”

    Wait, but…Mouse….I thought you were born Human.

      1. Honestly, I’m mostly taking the piss. I find it far more amusing(and graphically disturbing), however, if you were born human and this still occurred.

        *Frantic Fanfic*

    1. I propose, modestly, that there is no contradiction here.

      Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll need to go take communion with the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

      1. Man, guys. One throwaway slightly-out-of-continuity gag, and now we’re all convinced that Mom of Mouse is actually a baby-eating cannibal.

        As a certain orange baboon would put it, we are the best commenters. Simply the best.

  6. I really liked this movie and it’s the only thing I’ve seen where Chris Pratt is not completely insufferable.

  7. I remember an article that predicted this would be the third biggest flop of the year, based mostly on the failure of Green Lantern.
    Gotta love a prediction made with so much confidence turn out to be utterly, astoundingly wrong.

  8. I saw this movie eight times in the theater. No jokes or typos here. I liked it so much, I bought myself a Rocket Raccoon plushie….I’m 23 going on 24 right now.

  9. I recently marathoned Parks and Recreation for the first time (which you should all do), and seeing Chris Pratt there made me want to rewatch this movie. I’ll get to it sometime before GotG2 comes out.

    1. Parks and Rec flew under my radar during its full run, but I gave it a full Netflix run a little while back. I had first heard of Chris Pratt via The Lego Movie, which made it odd for me when I saw that earliest promotional material for Guardians, where they were all in a line-up. I was like, “Wait, that ripped dude right there is Emmett?”

  10. You made some good points about Thanos not seeming like much of a threat in this film. However, I submit that there weren’t a lot of great options for the writers, here. If Thanos had been the main villain and the Guardians had beaten him, then him fighting all the heroes from the previous films at once in the next Avengers’ films would be rather anti-climactic because we know he’s lost to less heroes (or “heroes” perhaps in this film’s case) previously. Having it be a draw wouldn’t be a very satisfying ending, and OF COURSE Marvel wasn’t going to make a film where the bad guy wins. I’m curious how you would’ve addressed this problem, however. How would “Guardians of the Galaxy” as written by unshaved mouse go?

    1. Hmmmm…well, it’s definitely a problem but there’s ways around it. First of all, they have to just barely squeak out the win. Secondly, you have to make it clear that Thanos is now even more dangerous because of this loss. Before, he was bored, apathetic, barely considering the Guardians to be more than a nuisance. But they lucked into a victory against all odds and now he’s PISSED. Also, assuming he has the infinity gauntlet at the start of the movie you don’t really have a problem with selling him as an even bigger threat this time around. Or alternatively, a good old Xanatos gambit.

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