Category Archives: Guardians of the Galaxy

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ takes us out there

guardians infinity stone

A lot of people are saying “Guardians of the Galaxy” is this generation’s “Star Wars.” I’m not sure that’s the case, or that anything could be this generation’s “Star Wars.” Some people forget just what a game-changer “Star Wars” and, two years earlier, “Jaws,” were. Those two movies solidified summertime as a time for big-screen escapist fare and proved that people would pay to see it.

Others say that “Guardians” is this generation’s “The Last Starfighter” but I think that’s selling “Guardians” short. As fond as my memories of “Starfighter” are, I think “Guardians” is a better movie.

So what role does “Guardians” fill?

Roles, really.

First of all, it’s a really good summer movie. It’s good-natured and funny and full of action.

Secondly, it’s a sure-footed next milestone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although it only slyly references the quest for the Infinity Stones – the sources of power that will, almost certainly lead Thanos to Earth in the third “Avengers” movie, probably in 2018 – it keeps that subplot to the first three phases of Marvel movies in moviegoers’ minds.

Thirdly, it expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s how:

The comics published by Marvel in the past half-century-plus have covered a lot of territory, literally and figuratively speaking.

There’s the street-level superheroes, like Spider-Man and Daredevil, dealing with maniacal villains and street punks alike. The non-Marvel Cinematic Universe “Spider-Man” movies and Marvel’s upcoming Netflix series like “Daredevil” map out this world. (They’re the Marvel counterparts of Batman, for you DC lovers out there.)

There’s the global superheroes, like the Avengers, who have the power to face threats to the entire world. The non-MCU heroes like “Fantastic Four” also fall into this category, as does DC’s Superman and Justice League.

What “Guardians” does is give Marvel Studios a beachhead in the cosmic universe where the comic books have played for a half-century.

There’s always been some crossover among all these Marvel realms, such as when Galactus, devourer of worlds, shows up and is tackled by the FF. Cosmic threat comes to global heroes.
But quite often, the links between the cosmic and Earth-based heroes have been only tenuous. Captain Marvel or the Silver Surfer or Warlock show up and fight and eventually team up with the FF or the Avengers to face a menace like the Kree-Skrull War, but by the end of the story, things are back to a Marvel status quo and the Avengers are dealing with Earth-based villains like Doctor Doom.

“Guardians” plunges us headlong into that cosmic Marvel universe with only occasional looks back at Earth.

I won’t recap the plot I’m sure you’re familiar with by now or even go on and on with my thoughts about “Guardians.” Director James Gunn had made a fun, “Star Wars”-ian adventure pitting an unlikely band of heroes against evil forces. Along the way, the movie introduces, more smoothly than most would have thought possible, fantastic creatures like Rocket Racoon, a small but ferocious animal with a pitiable past and a love of big guns, and Groot, a walking, talking (well, a little) tree creature. Space raccoon and gentle plant-based giant you say? Sure, why not. It’s a testament to Gunn’s handling of the characters and plot of “Guardians” that what the characters are matter less than who they are.

If you remember, Thanos, Marvel’s go-to cosmic bad guy, showed up at the end of “The Avengers” to take credit for pitting an invading alien army against Earth and grin at the thought of courting death.

Thanos wants the Tesseract – the Cosmic Cube in the comics – that the Red Skull wielded in “Captain America” and Loki sought in “The Avengers.” Along with the Aether, the cosmic power from “Thor: The Dark World,” and other Infinity Stones, Thanos can make the Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon of unimaginable power. It’s a certainty that will be the major plot point of the third “Avengers” movie.

One of the most amusing things about “Guardians” is that much of the history and power of the Infinity Stones is laid out midway through the movie … but to the protagonists and antagonists of “Guardians,” who don’t even know as much as Captain America and Iron Man about the importance of the Stones but know a thing to keep away from bad guys when they see one.

So the collected Guardians, led by the effortlessly charming Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, take on Ronan, an upstart ally of Thanos, in an effort to keep a handle on their particular Infinity Stone and keep it away from Thanos.

It’s an effort that will continue for another four years before the contest for the Stones pits Avengers – and likely other allies – against Thanos in the third Avengers movie, which will likely act as capper to the first three phases of big-screen Marvel.

“Guardians” is so much fun, so funny, so charming, that it carries all the responsibility of furthering the over-arching plot of big-screen Marvel as if it were a feather. Despite its many accomplishments, that might be the movie’s handiest achievement.

By the way, I wanted to mention Marvel’s other comic-book universes, besides street-level, global and cosmic playgrounds, because the big-screen Marvel universe will no doubt incorporate them as well.

(I won’t get into a couple of lesser-known Marvel comic book universes here because, frankly, I don’t think we’ll see big-screen versions of Marvel’s romance and western comic worlds anytime soon.)

We’re all but certain to see Marvel’s mystical and horror universes come into play in movies before long, perhaps in a combined venture.

The studio has already named a director for its “Dr. Strange” movie, about a physician who became a master of the mystic arts and fought supernatural creatures. It’ll be interesting to see who the studio picks to play the part because Strange could be as much of an anchor for ongoing Marvel movies as Robert Downey Jr. has been as Tony Stark.

A “Strange” movie would not only introduce the mystical and supernatural Marvel universes to the big screen but could encompass the company’s long history of horror characters, some of whom regularly cross paths with heroes like Spider-Man (I’m looking at you, Moebius the Living Vampire) but operate in a realm that ranges from the dark corners of the Earth to other dimensions. It’s a world of magic – already explained in the “Thor” movies as simply science that humans can’t understand – and wild creatures.

If the idea seems strange to you, consider how strange a space raccoon and a talking tree might have seemed before this record-breaking opening weekend for “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

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Secrets of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron?’

avengers-age-of-ultron-

Are you ready for some total guesswork?

I’m going to speculate on what we might see next May when “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters.

I don’t have any inside knowledge (my friend in the movie business doesn’t work on these Marvel movies). I’m speculating based on what I’ve read online recently and on recent re-readings of half-century-old comics that told this story before.

And I’ve already written about Marvel’s long game, the climax – most likely in the third “Avengers” movie – that will pit Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes against Thanos, the god-like destroyer and embracer of death.

Josh Brolin voices Thanos in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and likely in future Marvel movies. From scenes we’ve already seen in the “Thor” sequel and in “Guardians,” we know Thanos is pursuing the Infinity Stones to make his all-powerful weapon, the Infinity Gauntlet. Heck, Brolin took the stage in San Diego wearing a mock-up of an Infinity Gauntlet.

But what happens in the meantime, in “Age of Ultron?”

While the MCU has taken big variations away from the established Marvel comic book shorelines we’ve known for a half-century now, I think “Age of Ultron” will mix elements from a couple of milestone “Avengers” comic books.

We already know Ultron is in the movie, obviously, The murderous robot is invented (in the movies at least) by Tony Stark but, like Skynet, gets his own ideas on how to run the world.

And we know that Vision, a synthetic person created by Ultron to kill the Avengers only to end up joining them, is in “Age of Ultron.” He’s played by Paul Bettany, the voice of Tony Stark butler Jarvis in the “Iron Man” movies and “The Avengers.”

“Age of Ultron” creates Ultron (voiced by James Spader) and sets up the conflict depicted in the original 1960s “Avengers” comics, namely issues 55 through 57, when the Vision is introduced. In the comics, of course, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas in “Ant-Man” but that movie’s not coming out until later in 2015.

So Ultron on a collision course with the Avengers, with Vision changing sides. Check.

But who else changes sides?

For this, we go back a few years in the “Avengers” comics, to issue 16, in which the Avengers experiences the biggest line-up change in its young history.

Although Hulk had come and gone and Cap joined the team in “Avengers” 4, the big change didn’t come until issue 16, when Thor flies off to deal with Asgardian issues, Giant-Man (the former Ant-Man) and Wasp decide to leave and Tony Stark decides to retire his “bodyguard,” Iron Man, from the roster.

Who joins?

Three former criminals/crooks/super villains: Hawkeye, the archer (already on the team in the MCU), Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (who we know are in “Age of Ultron).

While I’d LOVE to see the “Ultron” footage screened at Comic Con, I’m pretty sure the final scene shown – the Avengers lying defeated at Ultron’s hands, Cap’s shield broken – isn’t the end of the movie. Despite the fact I believe it will end up being “The Empire Strikes Back” of the “Avengers” series, “Ultron” won’t end that way. That’s a vision (pun intended) or dream of something plaguing Tony.

No, I think “Ultron” will end with something more dire: The team breaking up. The powerhouses will be gone and Cap will carry on, as he did in the comics, with less powerful teammates like Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision.

Which will make it all the more essential that big guns like Thor and Hulk return in 2018, the likely release date of the third “Avengers” movie.

Groot and Rocket poster for ‘Guardians’

rocket groot poster guardians of the galaxy

If you ever find yourself wondering whether the geeks have inherited the earth – here’s proof.

Who would have thought a few years ago that a movie version of “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be forthcoming, no less a character poster featuring Rocket Raccoon and Groot would be released.

It’s a pretty amazing time we live in.

New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ trailer

groot flower guardians

We’re all a little Groot, aren’t we?

Marvel released the new trailer for “Guardians of the Galaxy” today and it’s pretty fun.

The trailer gets across that the movie is – aside from an adaptation of the comic series and Marvel’s attempt to branch out into the cosmic superhero realm – sort of a mix of “Star Wars,” “Firefly” (especially with the ragtag band of borderline criminals as heroes) and its own brand of comic adventure.

guardians of the galaxy

Fun tough guys.

rocket racoon guardians

And Rocket, the space raccoon who’s probably the heart of the movie.

You can find the trailer here, on io9.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” opens Aug. 1.

Nice: New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ poster

guardians of the galaxy new poster

I’m still not quite sure how “Guardians of the Galaxy” will feel for general moviegoing audiences, but I think that between now and Aug. 1, at least the moviegoing public will know what it is.

There’s a new poster – seen above  – and a new trailer coming Monday, I believe.

Right now, “GOTG” is “that space raccoon movie” to some people.

And it’s not a blip on the radar for many people.

For the rest of us, it’s Marvel’s attempt to broaden the Marvel Cinematic Universe the company has been building since “Iron Man” debuted in 2008. Even more so than in “Thor” and the use of the Nine Realms in those movies, “GOTG” is a movie that will play out on a cosmic scale. It’s likely to be as much “Star Wars” as “The Avengers.”

I don’t know a lot about “GOTG” yet, but it’s a pretty sure bet to feature Thanos, the alien bad guy at the end of “The Avengers,” and likely to include a battle over at least one of the Infinity Stones, those powerful artifacts referenced in “Thor: The Dark World.”

And I think all of this is building to a showdown between the Avengers – possibly with the help of the Guardians and others – and Thanos in the third “Avengers” movie.

Right now, though, we’ve got “GOTG” to look forward to. This poster looks familiar enough for those who studied posters for “The Avengers” but also sparks memories of “Star Wars” and other space-faring soap operas.

Which, I think, is what director James Gunn and the Marvel folks want.

Also cool: New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ art

guardians of the galaxy promo art

The website Guard the Galaxy – I guess you can kind of tell their orientation, huh? – has just published some new art of “Guardians of the Galaxy” tie-in merchandise.

Cups and stuff, coming to a store near you, this summer. So you can enjoy sipping from a plastic cup depicting a gun-toting cosmic raccoon and a sentient, walking tree.

Above find a close-up of the cup art.

The big-screen Marvel movie comes to theaters on Aug. 1.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ new photo

guardians galaxy new photo

I’m excited about and worried about this movie at the same time. That has to be a good thing, right?

Marvel today released a new photo from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” next August’s big-screen release featuring the comic company’s kinda obscure but cultish space-faring superhero group.

The photo above captures a moment from that trailer that played at Comic-Con, with the main Guardians members in a line-up.

From left, they are Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Rocket Racoon (voice of Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel).

Here’s the official Marvel statement today:

An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

As I’ve said before, I think the Guardians are after another of the cosmic Infinity Stones mentioned at the end of “Thor: The Dark World.” (The Cosmic Cube, or Tesseract, from “Captain America” and “The Avengers” is another one.)

The Infinity Stones are sought by Thanos, the bad guy revealed in the end credits of “The Avengers.” It’s all building to a huge showdown in the third “Avengers” movie, perhaps set for 2018.

Meanwhile, “Guardians of the Galaxy” opens Aug. 1, 2014.