A Guardians of the Galaxy film was always going to be a gamble. In a recent podcast with Kevin Smith, Comic Book veteran, Neal Adams spoke about how intellectual property plays a big role in the comic book world and that many creators, writers and artists who do not essentially know the copyright/IP world well have burnt their fingers. As a result of this, the Marvel Studios do not have rights to many of the famous characters, and are essentially left with ‘junk characters’ like GotG.
While Adams was quite high-handed in his dismissal and generally rejects everything current as you can read here, GotG isn’t exactly a Marvel goldmine. As characters(created by Dan Abnett & Andy Laning) they have seen few moments of glory until recently(the film decision led to a series of books – standalones/crossovers post 2010 and second installment of the team’s appearance was in 2008’s Annihilation Conquest) in Marvel crossover events.
This could have turned into one of those high on action films which looks great and entertains your kids, but James Gunn has done quite the impossible by turning these ‘junk characters’ into a pop-culture juggernaut of today’s comicbookmovie-ridden times. To get an idea of the kind of cultural phenomenon I am talking about, hop over to the links at the bottom of the review.
What you have here is an utterly entertaining, comic book sci-fi fantasy, cleverly informed by the classic 80’s cinema. While Marvel was churning out entertaining films in Phase 1 & 2, one had not seen a bunch of unknown characters like these come to the fore and amaze the world like they have.
GotG pretty much builds everything from ground zero here- a goofy lead(bounty hunter with a human past), weird sounding places in the galaxy, interesting characters with a human side, swashbuckling space fight sequences, and all that you could ask for in a thrill-filled space adventure. The film does not have one giant knock-you-off-your-feet sequence like The Avengers but many little moments that sum up beautifully after you are done watching it. It is like the Star Wars movie your mom would make.
The film is remarkably low on high-octane action and focuses instead on playing classic rock songs and character building. Perhaps one of the biggest victories here is that you don’t walk out with one character in your mind, you walk out with all of them, with a bonus classic song or two, and the comic book association just makes it an infinite world of possibilities.