Marvel Studios officially commences its Deep Cut era with this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a wild departure from the comic book adaptation factory’s previous (and hugely successful) franchise launches. The lead characters aren’t Avengers. Heck, most of them aren’t even human. And as the first official trailer makes clear, they’re definitely not golden-god heroes like billionaire Iron Man, super patriot Captain America, or actual-golden-god Thor. They’re misfits…in space.
Let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?
We meet lead human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) as he tries to sneak into some kind of outer-space temple and steal an important-looking orb. There’s a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark homage in his careful approach…
…but when he grabs it, he’s immediately mobbed by armed men. One of them is Djimon Hounsou, playing Korath the Pursuer, in classic comics lore a super powered member of the Kree species. To clarify: Yes, we are entering territory where people have “the” as a middle name, like Young the Giant or Foster the People.
From there we cut to the local galactic lock-up, where a couple of functionaries check in some nasty criminals. Said functionaries are played by John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz, and wear the insignia of the Nova Corps, an outer-space police force known mainly for their helmets and for their tendency to get completely destroyed over and over again.
“We arrested these five on Xandar,” says Reilly. And it’s time for a high-tech Usual Suspects roll call. First up is Drax the Destroyer, played by wrestler-turned-actor Dave Batista. “Since his wife and family were killed he’s been on a rampage across the galaxy in search of vengeance,” explains Reilly. If you look closely, his readout indicates that he has “Enhanced Musculature,” “Impact Resistant Skin,” and “Augmented Cellular Regeneration,” meaning he’s strong, tough, and heals up good. (He also weighs 3892 Grets; unsure what that is in jigowatts.) Drax has been a figure in the Marvel cosmic arena for decades, though he used to model more purple.
Next up is the beautiful and deadly Gamora: “Soldier, assassin, wanted on over a dozen counts of murder.” She’s played by Zoe Saldana, who basically owns space between this and Star Trek and Avatar and the long-in-development sequel Crossroads 2: In Space. Gamora’s enhancements include “Ocular & Respiratory Implants,” “Enhanced Neurological System,” and ”Cybernetic Appendages” meaning she sees good, breathes good, is a smart cookie, and could probably tear your limbs off if you called her a smart cookie to her face. In the comic canon Gamora was at one point nicknamed “the deadliest woman in the galaxy.” Also – possible mild spoiler although they said this explicitly at Comic-Con – Gamora was the adopted daughter of presumptive franchise-knitting Final Boss Thanos.
And this is Rocket Raccoon. He is a raccoon, “wanted on over fifty charges of vehicular theft and escape from lock-up.” According to his file, he is a “cybernetic/genetic experiment on a lower life form – has a tendency to bite associates.” He also apparently commits arson. So actually a fairly typical raccoon. We don’t hear him speak, possibly because Bradley Cooper hasn’t gotten around to recording this part yet. Anyhow: Hipster parents, stare into the eyes of your child’s next Christmas gift.
And this is Groot, who is apparently currently traveling as Rocket Raccoon’s “personal houseplant slash muscle.” Groot actually predates all his fellow Guardians, not to mention most Marvel superheroes. He first appeared as “The Monarch of Planet X” way back in 1960, although he’s better known now as a decidedly less murderous (but still quite mysterious) figure. In the comics, Groot only ever says three words: “I am Groot!” Also, to clarify, Groot is a tree. He will be played by Vin Diesel via performance-capture. Fun Fact: Diesel and Batista costarred in last year’s Riddick. Those two, they’re like the original Odd Couple of outré space romps!
And last but not least is Peter Quill, who calls himself “Star-Lord” because nobody else will. Generally wanted on an assortment of mild charges: Minor Assault, Public Intoxication, Fraud. In the comics, Quill was originally conceived as a disreputable astronaut, although later history would recast him as half-alien.
More importantly, Quill carries an old-school Walkman with some old-school music. This is about when the Blue Swede version of “Hooked on a Feeling” strikes up. Also, just to clarify: There will be lots of people in this movie with unusual skin.
See? It’s like the Mos Eisley cantina expanded into a fast-food chain!
In what appears to be a prison, Groot and Rocket Raccoon go on a tear. This is the scene where the living tree yells loudly while a cute little anthropomorphic raccoon fires a huge gun from his shoulder. Which is not a sentence you’ll ever write about The Monuments Men.
Remember last summer when all those shots showed up online of the lovely and genial
Irish Scottish actress Karen Gillan rocking an Alien III Ripley non-‘do? That’s because she’s playing Nebula, an alien space pirate of ill repute. (Fun Fact: When she was originally introduced in the ’80s, Nebula claimed to be Thanos’ granddaughter.) Gillan’s Nebula looks much closer to the Marvel Masterpieces Series 3 version of Nebula than the Marvel Series 2 version, which is the kind of factoid that will definitely impress someone at some bar somewhere.
Also in the villain roll call: Benicio Del Toro’s Collector, a.k.a. Taneleer Tivan, a cosmic wheeler-dealer who collects all kinds of things/people. He first appeared in Thor: The Dark World’s mid-credits scene.
Worry not! Dogfights! Also, this brings up an interesting long-term talking point. When Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, it always seemed like a somewhat unlikely prospect. But imagine if this movie is good. It’s a space opera about a gang of misfits, filled with weird-looking aliens and a scruffy-looking rascal hero. Will this make people more excited for Star Wars: Episode VII? Or more skeptical?
On a less heavy note, this closeup of Gamora strongly implies that this will be the five millionth superhero movie where the leading lady has a completely unbelievable shade of red hair. Though at least she has the excuse of being, like, a green alien. Black Widow has no excuse.
“They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy,” concludes Reilly. “What a bunch of a-holes,” concludes Serafinowicz. So, to reiterate: This is not The Dark Knight Rises.
The niftiest thing about the trailer is how Marvel is clearly steering into the skid. Guardians is very weird and very different from their past movies – and the trailer certainly owns that, with the purposefully goofy soundtrack and the general sense that we’re seeing a gloriously art-directed mash-up of The Mighty Ducks and The Last Starfighter. What do you think? Fans of the comic, is this what you imagined? Non-fans, are you intrigued, scared, or excited to feel so scared?