There are lots of reasons to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. The most obvious one is that it’s good. Then there are those other things, like how it’s a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s all adding up to an even bigger picture, Thanos is in it, blah blah blah. You know the drill by now. You’ve searched Wiki and found out how it’s doing, you’ve learned where the Easter Eggs have been hidden and laughed as Stan Lee makes yet another cameo appearance.
You may have read some of the billions of reviews out there that got posted online instantly, a large majority saying exactly the same thing: that it’s a good film and a rip-snorting Star Wars-like space adventure. You may have read a couple of the negative ones out there, and sneered at the handful of critics who still have sticks up their butts regardless of whatever happened with Kevin Bacon. It’s okay, those people are entitled to their opinions… although sometimes they just say it to get attention. Trust me on that.
Spoilers be damned, reviews be damned, Easter Eggs be damned, it’s a popular film and yet another middle finger at DC who keep insisting on their films being so painfully serious. Except for Green Lantern, which didn’t know which way to turn. Guardians of the Galaxy is fun, it’s making cash and it’s another tick in the WIN column for Marvel. It’s also the least likely contender to have done any of these, and here are some of the things that surprised me the most…
1) Bankable Stars: Once again, Marvel’s casting choices have been unorthodox but good. They also cast one of the most bankable stars in movie history: Stan Lee. His recent appearances mean he’s been in films grossing, what, 10 billion dollars or something? He may be the most successful extra ever, and one of the most bankable actors on the planet! Exelsior!
2) Wooden performances: The biggest scene-stealer was also the most wooden performance ever. Going in to this, there was soooooo much hype about Rocket Raccoon and yes, he delivered. But Groot, the walking tree creature, was the real scene-stealer. With one line delivered repeatedly (but with different inflections) he showed a caring nature to match his powerhouse capabilities. Plus his knowing smile to the camera after delivering a Hulk vs. Loki excessive beatdown to Ronan’s guards was priceless!
3) Boo-tista: Seriously, did anybody expect Dave Bautista, better known to wrestling fans as Batista, to be so damn good? From taking jokes literally to laughing at wholesale destruction, Drax was incredible to watch and Batista made it happen. His last appearance in the WWE was so bad he got booed constantly. If only they’d waited to bring him back. They could have given him the comeback they wanted.
4) Howard, the Bucks: Howard the Duck’s cameo was brief, odd and very, very cool. Back in the ’80s he was the first Marvel character to be on the big screen in 40 years, and he bombed. His film made Superman IV look like Citizen Kane. Yet now we live in a world where “Howard the Duck stars in $160 million opening weekend smash hit” is a true headline. What is this, a new reality created by the Cosmic Cube?!
5) Star-Lord has balls: Yes, we saw an Infinity Stone and got a whole load of exposition about those cosmic doodads. We also saw the destruction they’re capable of causing, which is impressive since they can be contained inside big steel marbles. Star-Lord swapped one of these balls for another, but wouldn’t it have been funny to see Thanos take delivery of what turned out to be a troll doll? Sigh…
6) Doctor who? : Karen Gillan did a great job as Nebula, proving there’s life after Doctor Who. She may have been a henchwoman to the henchman of the real big bad guy Thanos, but she also survived the final battle and there’s hope she’ll return. When she showed up bald at Comic Con, she looked weird. But paint her blue and she looks better than Doctor Manhattan or Tobias from Arrested Development.
7) Baby Got Bacon: The reference to Kevin Bacon and Footloose was one of the biggest laughs of the film. In a movie layered with gags and tongue-in-cheek parodies of movie clichés, it scored. However, to see a cosmic villain stopped in his tracks by a dance-off challenge as well as one of the most juvenile insults ever, that was inspired. Tony Stark’s digs at Loki don’t seem that impressive anymore.
8) That ’70s Show: One critic complained about the ’70s soundtrack, saying it pointed to a lack of originality. Uh, did that critic miss the obvious point that this was the only Earth music Star-Lord had brought with him into space? I’ve had the Awesome Mix soundtrack playing on a loop since Saturday, and I’m shocked that something so cheesy can be so much fun. Even the Pina Colada song.
9) No More Tears: Rocket rocks. When Drax has an emotional breakdown, Rocket tells him to suck it up and stop being such a baby. Rocket’s sarcastic, argues the morality of theft and has the most demented sense of humour seen on screen in a long time. It’s Rocket the way we want him. But more surprising was how he didn’t just make us laugh but made us want to cry too.
10) Nova Prime’s hair: Looking like an ice cream spiral, Glenn Close’s hairstyle was so crazy it was cool. It may not catch on as a fashion statement, but it was still eye-catching.
11) Naughty words: There were a few of these scattered about, more so than in their other films. Yet remarkably they never seemed out of place, fitting the action and comedy precisely. How did they do that?! It doesn’t matter. Odds are that Guardians of the Galaxy toys are going to become hot properties amongst kids and adults alike.
12) I hear voices: Nathan Fillion finally got to appear in a Marvel film, and so did Rob Zombie. They may have just been voices, but it was good to have them included. The real shocker was Howard the Duck, with a voice that sounded suspiciously like Seth Green. What, it really was Seth Green? Nice! Now all we need is a Howard the Duck Marvel One-Shot. Any takers on that?