By Cameron Heffernan
Marvel lays all the marbles on the galactic table, and find yet another hit.
Do you like sweet mix tapes? Do you like scenes with a lot of explosions ? Do you like real heart-string pulling shit in like the first two minutes of a movie ? Do do you like to then be turned around into non-stop, action-packed awesome-ness, where a raccoon can talk and kill, a tree can talk, kill and do tree things in awesome ways, a “space Stalin” named Ronin The Accuser (yes the Marvel villain. You know the guy. Yep, this guy. played by Lee Pace) as your mainstay baddy for the entire film? Do you like genuinely great movies?
In that case, “Guardians of The Galaxy” is right up your alley. Even if you don’t agree with those questions, go see it anyways. and after that, see it twice more. Because, Marvel is here to stay, and this, like when the first “Iron Man” dropped, solidifies Marvels place as the better comic company. (And this is coming from a DC Fanman.)
With phase two in full swing, “Guardians of The Galaxy” looked like it could sink the massive Marvel ship traversing the fickle seas of the movie industry. It seemed like a too-over-the-top venture for the comic company. That this film would ring the death knell for the other uncommon Marvel hero franchises waiting in the wings. An anthropomorphic raccoon and tree (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) teaming up with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a green woman who is also the slave-daughter/assassin of a galactic tyrant, Thanos (Josh Brolin); a human named “Starlord” (Chris Pratt); a buff blue dude named “Drax” who is played by ex-WWE Superstar, Dave Bautista, and the Nova Corp (with Glenn Close and John C Reilly as the leads for the galactic space squad.).
When looking at the ridiculous space opera premise to “Guardians”, it just appears to be more eye-porn in a summer that’s included a new “Transformers” and a re-franchising of “Hercules”. That this was just here to sell toys and further along the plot getting to “Avengers 2”. Guardians serves as more than just a bridge – like how “Thor: The Dark World” was a lackluster bridge – to the ultimate goal of “Avengers 2”. Guardians goes out of its way to not be apart of the other movies. It becomes, 100%, it’s own entity and exists outside of the already contrived and massive world Marvel has built on film. It adds a galactic element; tales of gods who created and destroyed various sections of the Universe. So far to the point there’s a museum of sorts that exists in a galactic crossroads inside the severed head of a Celestial.
You’re not seeing any of that in the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America. The level of depth they bring to the stage with characters, settings and general premise as ridiculous as an anthropomorphic tree and raccoon plotting a jail break. James Gunn (“Super”, and also wrote the 2002 live-action classic, “Scooby Doo”) , who directed and co-wrote with first-time screen writer, Nicole Perlman (Who is supposedly doing the treatment on a Black Widow script) brings – like Shane Black did with “Iron Man 3” – a new light to comic movies. More of a character evaluation than it is a “lets crush a city with giant interdimensional space dragons” typical superhero movie bullshit. The Chris Nolan effect, if you will.
The biggest question though, is it better than “The Avengers”?
Hell yes, it is.
Although it exists in the same “universe” and is ultimately just a stepping stone in the path to the ultimate cash cows, “Avengers 2: We Printing Money Now, Yo!” and “Avengers 3: We Just Bought You. Like You as a Person. How Does That Feel?”, it doesn’t feel like that kind of summer blockbuster. Like someone took the script of a B-movie from the ’70s, gave it a $170 million budget, didn’t call it “Star Wars”, and created some of the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater since the first Clinton term.
It even goes so far as to not have a post credit scene that leads to some other film or some piece of the “Avengers” puzzle. It’s just SPOILER ALERT
Okay…. Are you ready?
HOWARD THE “MUTHA FUCKIN’” DUCK
Not all things are roads paved in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.
Marvel has now cut out a piece of movie realty all to their own. One where they can bring back Howard the Duck, have a Guardians movie be projecting for $75 million on opening weekend, and also have upcoming, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist TV Shows planned, as well as the creme de la creme, an upcoming Dr. Strange movie.
I was hesitant about all of those and hoped “Guardians” would be a lightning rod of creativity to a bland style. Thankfully, it does just that.