Live Action, Live Action, Reviews

MCU Countdown #10: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy marked a huge turning point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both in terms of the direction that the franchise was heading, as well as for me personally. For the series as a whole, this marked an introduction to elements that will eventually become the ‘Cosmic Phase’ of the MCU.

There had technically been aliens in the Marvel movies before this one, but they were mostly the ‘gods’ of Asgard in Thor, and an invading threat to be defeated in The AvengersGuardians of the Galaxy marked the first real foray into outer space, and the beginnings of a sci-fi series that had the potential to rival the scope of Star Wars.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of Peter Quill, a man from Earth, or Terra, as it’s known in the greater galaxy, abducted as a child on the night his mother died. Years later, after being raised by an intergalactic criminal named Yondu, who’s part of a group called the Ravagers, Quill strikes out on his own, intent on making a name for himself. Calling himself Star-Lord and working as a bounty hunter, Quill eventually becomes the bounty himself, after obtaining an orb that would be revealed to contain an Infinity Stone, sought by a mad Titan named Thanos.

After being arrested, Quill teams up with fellow outlaws, Gamora, the daughter of Thanos, Drax, a man bent on revenge against Thanos, Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon, and Groot, a giant, sentient tree. Together, these five random individuals, thrown together by chance, eventually become friends and form the group that would later call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy.

As I said at the beginning, Guardians of the Galaxy also marked a personal turning point for me in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it was the first MCU movie that I actually loved. I had seen most of the movies that came before this one, but none of them had made that big of an impression on me. Before the movies in the MCU, I really had almost no exposure to any of the characters. I didn’t know much of anything about any of the core Avengers beyond their names, and I never really got invested in any of them. I watched the movies hoping they would wow me, but none ever did.

As an example, and I know this is a vile heresy of the highest order to many Marvel fans, but I actually fell asleep halfway through The Winter Soldier, one of the most critically acclaimed movies in the MCU, and one of the most cited by fans as their favorite of the entire Marvel franchise. I literally fell asleep and couldn’t get back into it.

I grew up on the DC superheroes, as well as Spider-Man and the X-Men. I was all about the powers, the stranger the better. None of the Avengers had anything really that remarkable, beyond superhuman strength, which, when compared to things like adamantium claws, teleportation, and shapeshifting, just seemed kind of boring to me. They were entertaining enough, but none so much that I wanted to buy the movies and rewatch them. Until Guardians of the Galaxy.

I loved the Guardians. Yes, none of them had much in the way of powers, aside from, arguably Groot, but there was just something about the characters and their dynamic, as well as their designs, that made them instantly click for me. Their chemistry was fun and engaging, the action and spectacle could hold its own against Star Wars, and the movie was just flat-out hilarious. Guardians of the Galaxy was everything I had been looking for in previous Marvel movies and more!

With this one movie, I was instantly more invested in the series as a whole, and since then I have not missed a single installment of the franchise. Yes, most of them don’t quite live up to the precedent that this one set for me, but I can tell I am now far more invested in the lives and stories of the other characters, just knowing that they all tie in to this same expansive universe.

And for those wondering, I actually did eventually go back and rewatch Winter Soldier, and I can now see what all the fuss was about. Don’t ask me why, but it took the Guardians of the Galaxy to show me how great Captain America could be.

I am not one to make expansive lists of my favorite movies, because it is just so hard to choose, but if someone asked me, this one would be one that comes to mind, and if asked about my favorite comic book movies, not just Marvel, but all comic book movies, this one would definitely be near the top of the list.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an epic, space-faring adventure filled with awesome special effects, amazing world-building, gorgeous design, great humor, an engaging story, and characters that you can actually empathize with on a real, human level, which is an amazing feat considering one is a raccoon and another is literally a tree! If you haven’t seen this one yet, I could not recommend it higher. Even if you haven’t seen any of the other Marvel movies, see this one. If you’re anything like me, this could be your gateway into the entire series, and trust me, this one is only the beginning.

What are your thoughts about Guardians of the Galaxy?

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Jonathan North

Jonathan North is writer, photographer, video editor, and animation fan from Iowa. He studied advertising and design at Iowa State University, and also has degrees in multimedia and art. His favorite movie is Fantasia, and his favorite cartoon is Gravity Falls. Or maybe Steven Universe. He can’t decide. You can find more of his work on his blog, as well as his YouTube channel, where he reviews all manner things, including (almost) every version ever of Alice in Wonderland. His favorites are the 1999 version starring Tina Majorino, and of course, the 1951 Disney version. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, @jonjnorth.