I mentioned that during Phase 1 Thor was the risky property due to being so unlike the others in the slate, well without a doubt Guardians of the Galaxy was the riskiest film in Phase 2 due to not only being completely detached from anything already introduced but also for being based on a comic series that the vast majority of people had no idea existed. Despite all those things Guardians was a huge hit based purely on being a great, genuinely funny film rather than any connections to the MCU or beloved comics. Want to have a bit more detail? Let’s take a closer look!
Brash space adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain. To evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with four disparate misfits: gun-toting Rocket Raccoon, treelike-humanoid Groot, enigmatic Gamora, and vengeance-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when he discovers the orb’s true power and the cosmic threat it poses, Quill must rally his ragtag group to save the universe.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Guardians assembled! …. Wait, wrong Marvel team, sorry.
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those “perfect storms” where the script, director and lead cast are all top class. Chris Pratt was born to paly Peter Quill, a man so dorky he really wants people to call him “Star Lord” but has that Indiana Jones-style charm that allows you to believe when he actually pulls off impressive feats when the time comes. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, an assassin who wants to break free from her shackles is a good foil for Quill to lust over, sarcastic gun-toting raccoon-looking Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his mostly silent (apart from saying “I am Groot”) tree-like partner Groot (voiced, in like one day I’m sure, by Vin Diesel) are a fun duo and Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer oddly knocks it out of the park as the revenge-obsessed killer who takes everything said to him literally. I say oddly because he never showed this kind of charisma or timing in his wrestling career…
That’s just the titular guardians, Karen Gillan is great as Nebula, the equally ruthless assassin “sister” of Gamora who isn’t so quick to defy their father, Michael Rooker is fantastic as Yondu, the alien mentor of Quill who runs his group of “Ravagers” with that real roguish charm and even though their roles are limited Benicio del Toro as The Collector and John C. Reilly and Glenn Close as Nova Corps. agents all shine in their roles. Hell, Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser is well acted, even if the character itself is … dull and uninteresting (more on that down below!)
Some assembly required…. In more ways than one! (Yes, two picture captures with Assemble in some way written in. Will I make it to a third?!)
The plot is all about getting the Guardians together, with Quill stealing what turns out to be an Infinity Stone for Yondu but deciding to try and sell it himself. Thanos was the man who wanted the stone and used Ronan to acquire it, in return Thanos would destroy The Accuser’s rival planet Xandar. Gamora is sent to collect it from Quill, and during a scuffle between the two a nearby Rocket and Groot try and kidnap the self-referred Star Lord for his newly placed bounty. The four are arrested by the Nova Corps. and sent to “The Kyln”, a space prison, where they meet Drax and eventually the five of them break out of prison and head to a giant floating head with a city in it called “Knowhere” in order to sell the stone to The Collector. I really love some of the scenery in both Guardians films, real jaw-dropping “space stuff”. Drax, while drunk, calls Ronan to them in order to get revenge (being under the impression that Ronan was the man who killed his wife and children) and a whole battle takes place with the would-soon-be Guardians and Ronan’s men (plus Nebula) and it ends with Ronan getting the stone and deciding to use it himself and threaten Thanos if he interferes.
Despite the stacked odds the five Guardians decide to group together and try and save Xandar even if it will most likely cost them their lives. A large scale battle occurs between the Nova Corps. / the Guardians and Ronan’s men which sees Groot sacrifice himself to save his new allies as they take down The Accuser’s capital ship. Peter distracts Ronan by dancing for a bit before grabbing the stone and managing to hold it long enough to kill Ronan with the help of his fellow Guardians. We then get several ending scenes, including the four Guardians deciding to stick together (plus a new Groot growing in a pot), the Nova Corps discovering that Peter is half human, half something ancient and powerful explaining how he held onto the stone (more on that in Vol. 2!) and The Collector being miserable in his now-destroyed collection talking to Howard the Duck…
It can’t really be stressed how tight and funny the script is, and how naturally they all come together to form the team and how perfect everyone is in their roles. Like I said before, it really was a “perfect storm”.
Ronan gazes into the Infinity Stone before using it to assemble his new powerful hammer…
The only real “bad” about the film is its lead antagonist, Ronan The Accuser. You hear little bits about his backstory but in general he’s just a bad guy wanting to hurt people and destroy things. He just feels empty, especially while surrounded by such a well-rounded and defined cast of characters. Luckily it doesn’t impact the story much, but it still sticks out…
I’ll also mention Thanos’ underling who personally contacted Loki about attacking Earth in Avengers is killed off here with little fanfare. I just think if would’ve been more fun had he survived long enough to be killed someone more important or in a scene with more impact.
To those who haven’t seen the film this probably looks like a dramatic showdown…. Also: Assemble.
Guardians of the Galaxy was a sleeper hit when it released, and now in 2021 it’s a major franchise and it’s all thanks to this film being so perfectly crafted and cast. There isn’t much more to say than I have already, forget “MCU films” or “Comic book films”, Guardians of the Galaxy is just a great film, period.