MCU Retrospective: Guardians of the Galaxy
In 2010, Kevin Feige changed the landscape for the MCU and superhero films when he announced that Marvel had a Guardians of the Galaxy movie in development. Guardians was a relatively unknown property to almost everyone who wasn’t a comic enthusiast, but in 2008 Marvel found a big hit in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s cosmic epic that spanned from the Annihilation event through Annihilation: Conquest, which included a 25 issue Guardians of the Galaxy arc that spun into the Thanos Imperative. The “DnA” run ran for two years and was a huge influence in putting the Guardians back on the map when it came to Marvel comics, and, eventually, the MCU.
After the initial announcement, Guardians of the Galaxy began the long process to actually making it onto the big screen. In 2012 the film really began to move when Kevin Feige announced Guardians was officially in active development with a targeted release date of August 1, 2014. More importantly, Feige dropped the first true big piece of news surrounding the movie: who would be a part of the team. This is where fans learned Guardians of the Galaxy would officially feature the team of Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and Groot.
In August of 2012, James Gunn was announced to be the director of the motion picture with high praise from Joss Whedon:
James [Gunn] is what makes me think it will work… He is so off the wall, and so crazy, but so smart, such a craftsman and he builds from his heart. He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon… He has a very twisted take on it, but it all comes from a real love for the material. It’s going to be hard for [the human characters] to keep up.
Whedon really hit the nail on the head with Gunn, who turned out to be the perfect director for this property. Gunn’s past work on movies like Super, Slither, and Dawn of the Dead showed that he had interest in all the correct genres to make Guardians of the Galaxy work. The comic content was weird and unique enough to capture Gunn’s attraction and the rest was history.
The director’s ability to craft a well-written script that brought these characters to life is what elevated the film from being simply another movie to a space opera. Gunn saw clear stories that brought lots of additional depth to a concept that could have easily been just as generic as other action adventure movies in the market.
At this point, Guardians of the Galaxy was officially on its way and the ball was rolling. In January of 2013, Marvel announced the filming would take place at Shepperton Studios in London and in the following month Chris Pratt was announced as Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord. Pratt was a surprising but solid choice; the actor displayed he could easily bring the charming comedic side to a character as seen in Parks & Recreation, but after his physical transformation for the role he really looked the part. The rest of the cast was filled out in the following months and filming officially began in August of the same year. Guardians of the Galaxy premiered on July 21, 2014 and followed with a wide release in the United States on August 1. The film was a massive hit and earned $773.3 million in the worldwide box office making it the third highest grossing MCU movie behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy was truly a surprise hit that opened up the MCU’s cosmic portion to a whole new side of things. The characters were all extremely well received and Gunn really nailed the tone and theme of the film. The cast members felt perfectly chosen, especially Pratt as Star-Lord and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon. The movie really set the bar for Marvel and revealed that the studio didn’t necessarily need a staple name hero like Iron Man or Captain America in order to put out a well-received film that could succeed in the box office as well. Following its release, Guardians of the Galaxy received stellar ratings, earning a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.8/10 with 277 reviews. Guardians of the Galaxy was an important installment to the MCU and was probably one of the few movies that really needed to succeed. The movie was seen as a risk because it was an unknown to the general public, yet, by receiving so much critical acclaim it showed that Marvel could bring some of their lesser known projects to the screen and find major success.
The motion picture was a great mix of the traditional adventure and action found in the MCU with a cosmic sci-fi setting blended in. Guardians of the Galaxy accomplished numerous things but revealed how bold Marvel was willing to be as well as the amount of trust they put into their directors. James Gunn really brings this film together with his immense creativity and passion, which is seen throughout. On top of being a fun movie to watch, the soundtrack blew everyone away with its classic 80’s hits. The soundtrack, titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1 as seen in the movie, flowed well and intertwined with the motion picture flawlessly. The soundtrack included famous hits such as “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie, “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 and “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum, to name a few. Awesome Mix Vol. 1 seemed like a great vessel to help people of all ages connect with the movie; for any parents taking their kids, its a nice nostalgic soundtrack while also being catchy and fun for young adults and kids. The soundtrack in Guardians of the Galaxy is something everyone can dance to, which fits the film’s style of being an enjoyable story to become engrossed with. The soundtrack gained so much traction; it was released on cassette during Record Store Day for the fans that really wanted to get their hands on a physical replica.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy was an extremely well-planned and thought-out movie by everyone involved. It takes a team to produce a successful end result, which Marvel Studios seems to realize. The decision to bring Guardians of the Galaxy to life was bold in itself, but trusting James Gunn so much was the best decision they could have made. It displays that Marvel Studios cares about their director’s input. With Guardians being such an important film, the entire team seemed to realize that they needed to get things right. Everything came together and the result was a glorious space opera that fans and viewers fell in love with.
The film’s sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is scheduled to release on May 5, 2017. Everyone is returning and Gunn seems to have a clear path set up for these characters. There will be more rejoicing for Guardians fans after the second film as well. With the Guardians team being included in the future Avengers movies, it only adds to the excitement of these MCU properties finally crossing paths.
For now, though, go have a good ol’ fashioned dance off to make the wait less painful!