Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge risk. It’s adapted from a comic book that mainstream audiences are completely unfamiliar with, there’s relatively little star power in the cast, and two of the main characters are a talking tree and a sassy racoon. In the wrong hands, it would have been so easy for this to flop with Marvel fans. But despite all odds, Guardians of the Galaxy is the most fun summer blockbuster I’ve seen in a very long time. This is without a doubt the best Marvel Studios movie so far.
One of my main issues with the Marvel Universe is the characters feel one-dimensional to me. In tandem they are entertaining, but when you really break down the individual personality traits, there’s really not a lot of depth. Tony Stark makes snide comments at the expense of everyone else, Thor sulks and complains about his family, and Captain America is, well, patriotic.
Guardians is a huge step in the right direction as far as character development goes. Every main character gets his/her time in the spotlight, and nobody is a one-trick-pony. There’s humor aplenty for all ages. Combine that with the fact that there’s more heart in this movie than all of the other Marvel movies combined, and you have one hell of a flick. The few moments of genuine emotion were a huge surprise, and one that was definitely welcome in a genre that often lacks empathy.
Director/writer James Gunn brings a much-needed breath of fresh air to a franchise that is beginning to grow a bit tedious with its yearly releases. It’s clear the studio kept him on a relatively tight leash (refer to his previous films Slither and Super to see what I mean), but his unique style is all over this thing. The landscapes and action sequences are impressive enough to make your jaw drop, but the real charms come from the smaller moments. Whether it’s a perfect response from a character or an unconventional visual flourish, these additional quirks are present in every scene, and they elevate the movie from simple eye candy to quality cinema.
The real strength of Guardians of the Galaxy is it never takes itself too seriously. It’s a rollicking romp through space with an oddball sense of humor, and it acts like it. There’s no weird tonal shifts, or moments of self-importance. Just non-stop fun. This is the Marvel movie I see myself returning to over the years. Bring your friends, plop that bucket of popcorn in your lap, and enjoy one of the best movies you’ll see all year.