Since the first viewing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, on Tuesday night last week, social media has been a flood of hype. Hype and questions. The big question is of course “Who are these guys?”.
Many reporting the first glimpses of the movie are stating that this movie is the biggest risk that Marvel have made since the the new Marvel Cinematic Universe began with 2008’s Iron Man. I understand and agree that the risk is there; for one thing no one really knows who any of these characters are and even those who do, really didn’t see this film coming.
The initial release of the new Guardians in 2008 was by no means a success and was cancelled after two years due to poor sales. Re-emerging in 2013 with the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, All-New X-Men) and Steve McNiven (Civil War, Old Man Logan) and adding the familar face of Iron Man to the line-up, The Guardians of the Galaxy were back on track. This had a lot to do with the fact that Kevin Feige (the man behind the Marvel movies – producing everything since Iron Man) had taken notice.
UPDATE: Second Trailer has now been released.
The man behind the camera for Guardians is director James Gunn. Gunn has previously been at the helm of ‘Slither’, a horror-comedy that managed to tick both boxes brilliantly and simultaneously, and ‘Super’, an unconventional, humorous, dark anti-hero superhero movie with depth.
Thankfully the trailer has to act as a sort of ‘who’s who’ as no average movie-goer will have heard of these guys before – giving you a little taste of what they at least look like and what they may be capable of.
Here is my breakdown of the Guardians, who (and what) they are, for all of you who loved the Avengers and are looking forward to the next building block as much as I am.
Marvel have a tendency to have crazy elaborate story lines and everything is interconnected – I will try my very best to make this an easy read.
Peter Quill aka Star-Lord:
Basically he’s a jerk! A witty jerk mind you, but still a jerk. Born on Earth, to a human mother and a Space Emperor, his Earth Dad tries to kill him due to the “infidelity” issues but thankfully has a heart attack before he goes through with it. Raising a son (of interplanetary adultery) wears on a woman and as if it couldn’t get any worse she then gets killed by a bunch of visiting aliens, right in front of Peter (who happened to bring her there to show off the aliens he discovered).
Peter becomes an astronaut to get close to those pesky bastards that killed his Mum but has a serious attitude problem (he’s a jerk!). He gets overlooked for his first space mission. He gets drunk. Talks to his pet owl. Waits two years for a second chance, encounters the Master of the Universe on a mission. Master of the Universe is offering the position of Star-Lord to one human. Peter gets overlooked again (!); gets pissed off, blasts his way through everyone (killing a few of his “own men”). He gets zapped up by the Master and given the title of Star-Lord just before the other Astronauts kill him.
That’s just the beginning of his story. He meets the other members of the Guardians in later years and becomes the de facto leader and whips the members into shape to try save the Galaxy from all damnation.
In Marvel’s movie adaptation Star-Lord will be played by Chris Pratt. You may know Pratt from his role as the lovable dimwit Andy in TV’s Parks and Recreation or more recently in Spike Jonze’s Her and voicing the hero Emmett in The Lego Movie. As he is renowned as a comedy actor we can expect sharp wit and perfect delivery from Pratt as the sharp-tongued leader but he has shown in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty he can take serious roles on and not rely on cheap laughs (although from the trailer it is pretty obvious there will be a few).
Next on the list is Gamora:
The last of her kind (the peace loving Zen-Whoberis) Gamora was rescued and adopted by the supervillain Thanos as the rest of her people were taken into a valley and exterminated by an uber-religious sect. Thanos is the reddish, purple, Hellboy look-a-like eerily smirking at the end of ‘The Avenger Assemble’ credits. Thanos used futuristic cosmic technologies to give Gamora superhuman strength and agility and an accelerated healing ability, making her the ‘deadliest woman in the universe’.
She became a bad-ass assassin and spy for Thanos but along the way found the fact that Thanos was just being a dick a little too hard to swallow. She defected and wound up crossing paths with the rag-tag bunch we find in the Usual Suspects line-up in the trailer.
Played by the gorgeous Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) who stated during the Comic-Con 2013 press conference that “I’ve been blue once, so why not try green”. She is a favourite of all nerdy fan-boys and I am personally looking forward to her kicking ass and the rivalry between Gamora and Thanos’ operative (and all-round evil bitch) Nebula (more to come about her soon).
Drax the Destroyer:
Arthur Douglas was just an ordinary Joe Soap, minding his own business and taking his family on a trip across the desert, when none other than Thanos (him again) landed on Earth and didn’t appreciate that he’d been seen. Thanos blows the car to smithereens. Arthur’s daughter, Heather, gets thrown from the car, still alive. She is found and adopted (a lot of this going on) by Mentor (Thanos’ father – seriously!). Now, as we have pointed out, Thanos is a bad dude. Even Mentor (his dad) wants him dead and so Mentor and his Dad (Kronos – that’s Thanos’ Grandad) decide to take Arthur’s “spirit” and put it into a super-charged alien body whose sole goal is to destroy Thanos. Drax the Destroyer was born. Drax is basically a killing machine with vengeance on his mind 24/7 and he will certainly be an action heavyweight in the movie.
Drax is portrayed by professional wrestling goliath Dave Bautista (Batista). He admitted at Comic Con last year that he is a newbie in the field of acting but was relieved to have the full support of cast and crew. He showed he can handle on-screen action before in RZA’s indulgent yet enjoyable ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ and more recently in ‘Riddick’.
So, we have met three of the five Guardians introduced in the trailer and they are all (apart from their crazy back stories) pretty mainstream. Star-Lord will be the Iron Man type; Gamora – a green version of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson in Avengers); and Drax – the big angry dude (Hulk).
Now we have the weird and wonderful creations that Marvel’s Universe can throw at us; a tree and a talking racoon.
Groot is an extra-terrestrial from the (brilliantly named) species flora colossus and may very well be the last of his kind. First seen in Marvel’s ‘Tales of Astonish’ in 1960 he came to his demise through the ingenious use of termites. I love that. He has since been reinvented and apart from his sheer size and power, he can absorb wood (not sure how this is helpful in space) and also sprout at will to increase his size. He also has the capabilities to regenerate from as little as a sprig (often kept and re-grown by Rocket Racoon). Although believed to be from a fine lineage of well-to-do trees and given the finest education on his home planet, he mutters but three words: “I am Groot”. He is actually speaking full sentences but this is all our humanoid ears can hear. Rocket can understand his forest friend and full conversations occur between the two.
Groot will be voiced by Vin Diesel and, to be honest, I was a little skeptical to say the least. Even though three short words are all we will hear him speak, there has to be emotion, humility, humour and rage present where needed. Director James Gunn had the following to say about working with Diesel in the voicing booth which made me at ease with the choice, “All of the “I am Groots” that were earlier voices didn’t sound very good at all, they sounded like shit. It just didn’t really work. Then Vin came in and in one day, laid down all these ‘I am Groot’ tracks, and he’s a perfectionist. He made me explain to him with every ‘I am Groot,’ exactly what he was saying… Then Vin would sit there and he would do it, and he would do it again and again and again, and his voice is so rich and so beautiful and he really opened up and was this character. It was amazing when we first put that voice in there how much the character changed and how much he influenced the character.”
Last, but certainly not least, Rocket Racoon:
Rocket was a regular racoon but was brought to a planet called Halfworld. Halfworld is an abandoned colony for the mentally ill where animal companions were genetically manipulated. This granted them human level intelligence and bipedal body construction to become caretakers of the inmates and the planet (because it seemed like a cost effective decision maybe?). On Halfworld, Rocket was the law. As Chief Ranger he became a brilliant combat tactician and marksman. Rocket is also an excellent starship pilot, previously captaining his patrol ship ‘Rack ‘n’ Ruin’ with his first mate Wal Russ (Oh yeah, that’s right, a talking walrus).
Rocket is hilarious in the comics and has a dark humour and quick wit. He is also in possession of a particularly short fuse – he is basically Joe Pesci in GoodFellas. Director James Gunn has described Rocket as “the heart of the movie” and also as “a mean-ass fighting machine”. He let it be known from the get-go that Rocket was not “a cartoon character, it’s not Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers” and went on to say “[He’s] a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that’s alone. There’s no one else in the universe quite like him”. Gunn has even been working with actual racoons on set to get to grips with their mannerisms and behaviour.
We have been allowed one line of Bradley Cooper’s dialogue from the movie in a subsequent two-second clip following the trailer’s release. Bradley’s acting credentials do not really need to be called into question (as Diesel’s do) so I am looking forward to how he throws himself into the character that I believe will make or break the movie. He will be important in two ways; firstly, as the cute-but-deadly figure that kids will love and secondly; the heart and dry wit that the older Marvel movie fans can get on board with and hopefully not just view him as ‘Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers‘. Only time will tell.
I am going to leave it there for now – however it is not quite the full story. We have some major ‘Baddies’ that feature in the trailer too and also the tie-in with all that has come before (if you haven’t started to piece it together yourselves). I will be posting a second collection of bios/info soon so keep an eye out.