Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker
Production Budget: $232.3 million
Worldwide Gross: $774.2 million
My favorite movie of the superhero films to date! I’ll be honest, like many, I was hesitant when I heard Marvel was making this film. Growing up I knew of the Guardians: Yondu, Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Martinex, Starhawk and Nikki. I read about their exploits as a child. I thought it might be cool to see them brought to the big screen. Then, I read about the characters proposed for the film: Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon and Groot? I’d heard of a few of those names but never as Guardians. What was going on? I had no idea that there was a new team; I guess I was out of touch with the new generation of comic mythos. I was unsure of this movie; unsure of how it would be received and unsure if any old-school comic guys like me could get behind the story. A few months before the film’s release I saw a cool Guardians of the Galaxy t-shirt online for sale. I hesitated in buying it because I thought if the film was a flop that I’d never wear it; that’s how little faith I had in this Marvel project.
Days before the film was to be released I was asked to host two premiere screenings of the film, 2D and 3D, back-to-back; both sold out shows! I scrambled to find a suitable Guardians shirt to wear, there were none to be found. After a dozen phone calls and online searches, I had to drive miles across town to buy the last t-shirt I could locate! Needless to say, I wore the t-shirt, hosted the films to two great crowds and gave away some awesome Marvel swag – but I felt bad. I watched the film that night and loved it. I loved it and felt bad because I doubted the vision of Kevin Feige and the talents of James Gunn and Nicole Perlman. Guardians of the Galaxy is a great film. So that’s my confession, ‘nuff said, let’s get on with my argument for this film.
So by now we all know the premise, a group of intergalactic criminals form an unlikely team and work together to stop a fanatical warlord from destroying a civilization and probably enslaving the universe. Alright, so technically, intergalactic criminals does not a superhero team make, however, I’m allowing it because they redeem themselves by their actions to become a force for good (…or bad, or a little bit of both).
As my hesitation suggested, this was a huge gamble for Marvel. I love James Gunn, his quirky nature translates into fun movies with fun characters. Anyone remember his Troma films, or how about the superhero film he wrote, The Specials? The man is brilliant. I should have understood that with him at the helm, this film would be anything but boring or just some effects-laden space drama. With his background, and with a property not as big as the others, Marvel chose rightly in bringing Gunn in to direct. He definitely had the creative spin to pull it off.
And how about that soundtrack! Gunn and music supervisor Dave Jordan must’ve put in a lot of work to come up with a playlist that incredible. A space-age action film full of old-school tunes, right on! From Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” to Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child,” to The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” the film kept everyone grooving their way through the action, the comedy, the dancing and the fun. It’s no wonder the film sequel has been tentatively given the musically inspired title, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
This movie is something different and that is why, at first, I was hesitant to get behind it. In the end, that is what makes it great. Gunn had fun with the project and never took it too seriously. He kept it light only making it as serious as it needed to be when the fate of the universe was in the balance. If you look at it closely, the film ended up being a new and fun tale about unlikely friendships set against an intergalactic backdrop. In this age of reboots and unnecessary sequels, “new” is taboo for Hollywood. I’m glad Marvel took this chance and I hope the rest of Hollywood takes notice as the viewing public certainly did!
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg
Production Budget: $220 million
Worldwide Gross: $1.518 billion
This film was a dream realized. Starting back in 2008, when Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury teased us with the Avenger’s Initiative and kicked off the first Marvel mid-credits teaser scene, fans could only dream of the day when everything would pay off! The Avengers was that pay off! The goal of having a shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) had come to fruition. After years of multiple movies with multiple characters, fans of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the gang rejoiced in the unprecedented cinematic team-up. We all knew the Alien Vs. Predator and Freddy Vs. Jason films were going to have nothing on this epic gathering of movie might! The buildup led to one of the biggest box office opening weekends in film history, and ultimately a place as the third highest-grossing film of all-time!
All the hype aside, this is a great film full of developing characters, humor and good ol’ comic book action. It takes a group of solo actions heroes and forces them to work together as a team to save the planet; credit to fan-favorite Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, the catalyst for the bonding. Everyone has their favorite scenes. Whether it’s Captain America’s remark upon seeing Thor, “There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that,” or Loki’s “I’m listening,” after Thor tells him to listen well before Iron Man slams him off the landing leaving Loki standing alone. Maybe, it’s Hulk sucker-punching Thor, or Hulk’s “Puny god” reference. There are tons of quotable moments in this film and it is these moments that make the film all the more memorable. Sure, the film starts off slowly with quite a bit of buildup but that’s to be expected with an ensemble cast. The one-liners and character interaction still make it a fun watch. If the third act never came, many viewers would’ve been pretty much happy watching them sitting around the helicarrier squabbling all day. Of course, that would not have been as great a movie, but fun nonetheless.
The real accomplishment of this film is actually not that this was a great film; many could argue against me that it wasn’t. The real triumph is the legacy it created. This film established a joined cinematic universe that has now expanded from not only Disney’s Marvel but to include Sony’s Marvel properties as well. It’s only a matter of time before Fox’s Marvel properties are tied in too. Bringing in characters from different film projects together into one superhero film was something previously only seen in the comics. Marvel was able to bring this to the film world. DC saw the genius and did the same with their television shows. With next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, they will kick off their own attempt to create a shared cinematic universe.
This movie has shifted the paradigm in the way movie franchises will be made. Visionary filmmakers will now look forward to the future for what they might want to occur in which “phase” of the franchise. Future stories are now teased in mid-credit scenes. Also, actors are being contracted for multiple film deals. Sure, this was done previously: Sony locks in an actor for a 3-picture deal over 5 years, no biggie, but this is different. Now, actors are being signed to 5-9 picture deals to portray the same character on different films.
With Kevin Feige’s reported roadmap of MCU planned projects for the next two decades sitting on the wall behind his desk, fans eagerly await each phase announcement; knowing that each film will be grander, more audacious, and, most of all, connecting to a larger storyline only teased. The Avengers was the first realization of Marvel’s plans for a shared universe concept and proved that it could be done successfully.Share: