Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - Spoilers Within!

*cough* Wow, this place is dusty. I should swing by more often.

So, like a good chunk of the nation, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend. I loved it! And I wanted to have a super spoileriffic discussion of some of the points in the movie. Facebook doesn't really do jump-cuts and the like well, so I figured I'd fire up this old hunk of junk.

<<< There be spoilers within >>>

Before I get into this, I do want to reiterate that I loved the movie. I'm going to be pointing out a lot of things I didn't like, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression. I'm mostly going to be nitpicking and/or Monday morning quarterbacking here.

First of all, huge kudos to Marvel just for doing this movie. On a concept level, it's ridiculously risky. It could have gone very, very badly and really derailed the whole MCU initiative. But Kevin Feige is very clearly a man who not only has a plan, but is brilliantly able to execute that plan.

Rocket and Groot were just about spot-on perfect. My one nitpick here is that Groot got a little "omnipotent Swiss-army knife" in there. Specifically the scene where he single-handedly wipes out a hallway of soldiers kind of lost me. I would MUCH rather have seen Drax rock that scene.

Which does bring me to my main complaint about the movie. Drax was a fabulous character, and Bautista did a bang-up job portraying him. But he was clearly the weak link in the team. He was just a strong guy. He wasn't super strong in any way. It was disappointing, especially given the character in the comics. He started out AWESOME in the prison sequence. But the fight with Ronan should have gone much differently, IMNSHO. Seeing Drax the Destroyer get smacked around like a rag doll made me lose respect for, and interest in, the character. Quill already had the "lovable loser" role sewn up and bedazzled. We didn't need another.

You know what would have been awesome? If Drax had charged Ronan and smacked him in the chest. And Ronan actually be knocked back a step. Eyes widen. Drax realizes he's bitten off more than he bargained for. Ronan realizes he might have an actual fight. Ronan punches back, and Drax takes it. The two trade a few scenery-destroying engagements, in which it's clear that Ronan has the upper hand, but Drax is not out of his league. The signal from Nebula comes through, and Ronan tips his hat to a worthy opponent. And just leaves Drax standing in the street.

Follow that up with being a human wrecking ball in the fight on Ronan's ship. And have Drax shoot Ronan with the BFG as "the only one here who can take the recoil". That would have rocked. It would have established Drax as being equal to Rocket, Groot, and Gamora. And it would have been completely in line with his portrayal in the comics. His original backstory was as an unstoppable force, built from the ground up for the single purpose of destroying Thanos. His retconned backstory is a bit less goofy, but still basically the same. He is supposed to be on a level with Thing and Colossus, just a step behind Hulk. The movie version just didn't live up to that.

Now, I did really like the way they altered Drax' backstory. It makes a LOT more sense. As dramatically opposed to Quill's backstory. In the (recent, because retcon) comics, a prince of a galactic empire crashes on Earth. While repairing his ship, he dallies with the woman who is putting him up. When his ship is fixed, he leaves. She never tells him that she's pregnant. However, when it turns out that the Spartax empire is in trouble and an heir needs to be found, the boy Peter is identified. Unfortunately, he is first identified by the Badoon, the race that is trying to destroy the Spartax empire. They kill his mom and try to kill him. Wackiness ensues, the Element Gun comes into play, and next thing you know, he's up in space as an alien prince. But then he gives his dad the big old middle finger, and takes off as a soldier of fortune and general rascal. And THAT is why he's called Star Lord. Because he's a prince.

Putting all of that into the movie would have been super awkward, admittedly. But, it could have easily been hinted at. One, have the mom die at home, same tearful scene. When people leave, the Badoon attack. The Element Gun is found. Yondu picks him up in the backyard. Yondu chooses not to explain why aliens attacked his house, and chooses not to deliver him to his dad (as was noted in the movie). Loads of hints at the backstory. The rest of the movie continues as is. Add a couple references to the Spartax in throwaway lines. Then, at the end, have the Nova computers identify him as the son of J-Son. Instead of some wacky ancient celestial being. Because that was seriously wacky. Boom, comics and movies are mostly in sync.

So, those are my two big "problems" with the movie. The whole thing with Quill's backstory I'm certainly willing to let go. It is mostly one knee jerking to "but that's not the way it's supposed to be" and another jerking to "seriously, invoking mysterious ancient godlike being as his dad?" I really was disappointed with Drax' power level, though.

There were many things I loved. Quill's desperate clinging to Terran culture, despite having a typical 8-year-old's view of it. The use of the mix tape was absolutely brilliant all the way through. I was pretty much sold from the moment of Quill dancing his way through the caverns at the beginning. It was a glorious introduction to the character.

Groot. Groot was fabulous. He could get angry. But he also could be happy, nice, and almost innocent. I don't think I can say enough great things about how the animation team handled him.

Rocket was also pitch perfect. While I was vaguely disappointed that he never used his catchphrase, it was clear that Disney was trying to keep the language pretty PG. "Blam, murdered you!" was not going to go over well. Again, fantastic animation work on him, but I also have to give Bradley Cooper a lot of credit. He put a LOT of emotion into his voice over work, which is not easy.

Gamora was, hmm, interesting. Her whole backstory makes her mysterious, remote, and conflicted. I think that all came across really well. Of course, it also made her out of step with Peter "heart on his sleeve" Quill and Rocket "I have no filters" Raccoon. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. But made some scenes awkward. Aw, hell, clearly I have to watch it again, and focus on her character.

The world-building was absolutely awesome. Gunn clearly either is already familiar with the celestial/galactic storylines in Marvel, or did a lot of boning up. The visuals were magnificent. The easter eggs and references were thick. I was a bit surprised to not see a single reference to Skrulls (at least, not that I noticed). I mean, I'm assuming that some variant on either the Kree-Skrull War or Skrull Invasion storylines is coming. I had actually hoped that the shawarma was going to be one of the bit parts (like The Broker) turning into a Skrull and reporting back to the homeworld that "all is going according to plan".

I definitely want to go see this again in theaters, hopefully this weekend. I want to dive into more of the details. I want to really pay attention to some of the people and easter eggs in the background.

But, mostly, I just want to ride that rollercoaster again.


  1. I was surprised to see them jump so hard core into explaining the infinity stones since they've been playing coy about it in the rest of the marvel universe. I'm also curious to see what happens with the Nova corps since they've been destroyed so many times that having them NOT be destroyed seems odd.