When will the wheels come off Marvel's billion-$ wagon? They've been cranking out hit after hit since 2008's Iron Man, and even the lesser films (Thor, Captain America) and sequels (Iron Man 2) have turned a big profit. And if there's ever a serious misstep, it seems likely the occasional Avengers team-ups will subsume any lost earnings. The company's now into its so-called 'Phase 2', having released Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World last year, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier primed for March. But now the risks truly begin, because the studio's late-summer tent-pole is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY...
Yeah, GotG. Most people haven't even heard of this comic-book, but the only name-recognition Marvel need right now is their company's name above the title. Or that's the continuing belief. The Marvel brand hasn't helped the fate of their TV venture Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which has underwhelmed and underperformed for ABC. Is GotG going to be similarly overlooked by confused masses, or is it the kick in the ass Marvel need right about now? And a good way to prime audiences for the other trickier adaptations to come, including Edgar Wright's Ant-Man and (potentially) Doctor Strange?
The first trailer for GotG was released yesterday, giving a good look at the film and a sense of its tone and style. It feels like a mix of familiar things; like Blake's 7, Buck Rogers, Farscape, Firefly and the Fantastic Four. I also detected a John Carter vibe at times, although Marvel will be praying this movie doesn't meet with a similar fate at the box-office.
GotG concerns a U.S pilot called Peter Quill (Zero Dark Thirty's Chris Pratt), who steals an orb and is pursued across the galaxy. To escape capture, Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a gang of space-faring misfits—green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana of blue-skinned Avatar fame), burly warrior Drax (WWE's Dave Bautista), tree-like alien Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), and a gun-toting talking raccoon known as Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper). Co-stars include Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) as the villainous Ronan, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) as a hunter/tracker, Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as a bald villainess, Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator), John C. Reilly (Magnolia), Glenn Close (Damages), and Benicio del Toro (Sin City).
Based on this trailer, I'm certainly more intrigued about this movie than I have been hearing about its development. I'm not a huge fan of James Gunn (Slither, Super), but as someone who learned his craft making Troma movies, perhaps he's just the kind of maverick this film needs. It will clearly be a very different film than any of the others we've seen Marvel produce, which have always been closed tied to earthly concerns and traditional superhero origin tales...
This is full-on Star Wars-y weirdness from the get-go, but with a rebellious attitude and sense of humour. The moment hero Quill gives "us" the middle-finger, and the group are described as "a-holes" by none other than Spaced's Peter Serafinowicz, said as much. And that's before you stop to realise the final third of this zany trailer is set to the "Oogachaka Baby" music, popularised as a late-'90s internet meme. You have to appreciate the sheer lunacy of that. (Or, "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Suede, fine.)
And you know what, GotG doesn't CARE if you don't know who these odd-looking characters are. Quill even yawns during the Usual Suspects-esque 'heroes shot' as the trailer's end. Getting to know this motley crew is going to be part of the fun, so I hope their personalties match their visual appeal.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY premieres 1 August 2014.