When people think of Marvel movies, they most likely will think of the Avengers. Maybe Iron Man more specifically. Looking back at The Avengers from 2012, the story took place on a planetary level. However the heroes who saved the world seemed to have little in common, well from a glance. The Hulk is big and green, Cap is literally from a different era in time, Thor is from a different dimension, while Iron Man comes off as being very egotistical. Everyone was an outcast in their own right, mostly due to their great individual powers. However despite their different backgrounds the heroes found unity in the fact that they all wanted to save the Earth, as most of them live there, and have loved ones residing there. Moreover through their fighting and arguing, the Avengers realized that they actually share certain ideals and can even relate to one another on a more personal level.
However Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn, approaches the super hero collective in a different light. Not only do most of the team have differing reasons for living, they aren’t even the same species. And really thats one of the main driving ideas in Guardians of the Galaxy. Unity through collective rejection. As all of the characters meet through reaching their lowest points in life, specifically all being incarcerated in the same prison. The team is rallied by Peter Quill/Star-Lord, as he figures they’re all losers, and only coming together as a team can they be a greater force in the galaxy. Specifically something a force for good.
Looking at every character’s background gives us a better idea of what type of group the Guardians of the Galaxy are.
Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Chris Pratt, was abduct as a young boy right after his mother died. Furthermore Quill didn’t know his father, the fact that he has no family is something that does weigh on Quill throughout the film. As evidenced by him carrying around a Walkman his mom gave him, while often listening to the mix tape she made him. Another curious element is that Quill kept a present his mom gave to him, but never opened it. Perhaps he still hasn’t come to terms with his final meeting with her, a meeting that was emotionally grueling for him. He was raised by the Ravagers, and became a great thief. While the Ravers obviously consider Quill part of their group, Quill doesn’t always identify himself as part of the Ravagers. Then theres Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. Her family was killed, while she was captured by Thanos, and forced to become one of his assassin “daughters.” Like Quill, Gamora does not associate Thanos as being her father in any context, she does however consider Nebula a sister. Gamora is ultimately seeking to stop Thanos from attending a great power. Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is probably the most peculiar of the group as he was a common raccoon, who was then experimented on be means of dissection and reassembly, until he was final modified with cybernetics and a genius intellect. Of course he has no family, and being that hes basically a one-off experiment he feels like hes a monster/joke.Though Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, does service as Rocket’s surrogate family. Goot is a humanoid plant, which can almost only say “I am Groot.” As a result we know nothing about Groot’s family or background, though The Collector insinuates that Goot’s people may have gone extinct. Groot unlike the rest of the group does not seem to be motivated by loss or tragedy. Instead he may be drawn to Rocket, as he recognizes Rocket and himself as being the only ones of their kind. As such Groot is never far from Rocket, while Rocket some times belittles Groot, both do look out for each other’s well being. As evidenced near the climax of the film, with Groot nearly dying. Drax is the last member to show up onscreen. While having a similar story to Gamora’s, Drax lost his wife and child to Ronin’s armies. His sole desire is to kill Ronin, because of this he is filled with great anger.
Their primary antagonists are Ronan The Accuser, portrayed by Lee Pace, and Nebula, played by Karen Gillan. Ronan is a Kree who heavily believes in their traditions and seeks to give the orb to Thanos, so that the Xandarian people will be exterminated. Nebula initially helps Ronan because Thanos orders her to help him retrieve the orb. While Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, seems to be after Quill for stealing the orb before he and the other Ravagers could.
The film opens with Quill talking to his mom on her death bed, she gives him a present and wants him to open it, which he refuses. Moments later she dies and unable to bare the pain Quill runs off and is abducted by the Ravagers. 20 years passed and Quill goes to steal an orb from Ronan. Later as he tries to hock the orb, Quill finds himself in a fight with Gamora, Rocket and Groot. This lands them all in prison.
The Guardians of the Galaxy start out more as criminals in film, because of this they aren’t really a team until the latter of the film. Save for Gamora, who is initially the only one of the collective looking to do something noble. Specifically storing the orb, whichs holds an infinity stone, somewhere where no one will be able to use it for evil. While Quill is looking for a greater purpose in his life, which at first seemed to be becoming a well known and great thief. Rocket and Groot are mercenaries looking for a big pay day, so they can retire somewhere nice. Then of course theres Drax who simply wants revenge. Everyone’s differing desires, causes clashes amongst these criminals.
After the group escapes from prison, their plan is to meet with Gamora’s client, who will give them enough money to live out their lives comfortably. They meet up with The Collector, who reveals that the orb is an Infinity Stone. An object of great power that can destroy worlds, and do more. The Collector’s assistant grabs the stone, infusing her with great power, though she can’t contain it. As a result she explodes, and nearly destroys The Collector’s gargantuan home.
From here the mission changes. Gamora seeks to give the stone, to the Nova Corps on the Xandarian home world. However due to Drax’s strong desire to kill Ronan, he actually gives him their location. Causing the Guardians to flee. Ronan shows up with his army and takes the orb, while easily beating Drax. Quill, against Rocket’s wishes, saves Gamora by floating in space and giving her his mask to breath, and contacts Yondu. Quill is able to convince Yondu that together they can get the orb back and make a great profit together. Rocket, Groot, and Drax tag along.
Ronan discovers that the orb houses an Infinity Stone and places it on his hammer, which is able to stabilize the stone’s power. He also declares to Thanos that he will kill him, which causes Nebula to continue her alliance to Ronan out of her hate towards her adoptive father. With this last part, the theme of family should already be obvious to the audience. As all of the main and most of the supporting characters have particularly strong feelings of family, which ultimately does play a role in each character’s motives in the movie. All of the GotG members have lost their family, so they initially only rely on themselves for support. While Ronan desires to fulfill the wishes of his forefathers by killing the Xandarians.
Again things change, this time in everyone’s mentality. The Guardians of the Galaxy are symbolically born through Quill’s speech to the others. Gamora’s desire to strive for redemption, driven by her time killing for Thanos, inspires Quill. He decides that together this group of criminals (Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax, and himself) can do great things, specifically being a force for good. As he says they’re all “losers” and have have encountered great losses, but can overcome this if they unite with a singular purpose in mind. Quill contacts Rhomann Dey, played by John C. Reilly, who earlier had arrested the GotG except for Drax, and informs him that Ronan is coming with his forces to destroy Xandar. The Nova Corps is put on alert, and with help from the Ravagers are able to greatly slow down Ronan’s assault.
The GotG are able to infiltrate Ronan’s ship. Nebula is subdued and later flees. Ronan is then confronted by the GotG, however they fail to neutralize him. As a result most, of the Nova Corps are killed and Ronan’s ship crashes on Xandar. At around the same time Groot encases himself and his team within his own body mass and suffers most of the impact from the fall, seemingly killing him. Ronan proceeds to bestow The Guardians of the Galaxy moniker to Quill and his friends, while in same breath taunting them for not being able to kill him.
In an odd scene Quill challenges Ronan to a dance off. While it seems very out of place, its actually a distraction for Rocket to shoot Ronan with his makeshift weapon. This causes the hammer to break, thus freeing the Infinity Stone. Quill is able to grab the stone, however he doesn’t explode. During this time Quill confronts his mother in his mind, and comes to terms with her death. Zamora and the other Guardians grab Quill’s hand, and are able to control the power. Together they use the stone to kill Ronan.
The aftermath results in the Guardians of the Galaxy being recognized as an official galactic force for good by the Nova Corp. Yondu is given a fake orb, while he realizes this he obviously has no ill feelings towards Quill. He then reveals that the Ravagers were supposed to transport Quill to his father, but decided not to as he was an “asshole.” They are also absolved of their crimes, and the Nova Corp feels confident that Quill will be able to keep the team united. As well as informing Quill that he is only half human, and maybe part Ancient. With the celebration over, Quill finally feels its time to open his gift that his mother had given him before she died. Its revealed to be another mix tape, and he proceeds to play it. A piece of Groot is revealed to have survived and is slowly growing back into its form. Afterwards the Guardians of the Galaxy proceed to venture off into space, presumable to their next mission.
Howard the Duck is teased in the after-credits scene, drinking a beverage with The Collector. This in particular is an example in how Disney handled The Guardians of the Galaxy. Simply put, discord and alienation can breed unity. Unlike The Avengers, The Guardians have little in common, each character is vastly different. The Avengers all come off as being heroic individuals, who while having slightly different ideas regarding defending the Earth, can come together in perfect unison and defend the Earth. At their very core, they are all the same the archetype, being heroes with typical heroic traits with certain variations to paint them as more unique individuals. Each of The Avenger’s stand alone movies, like Captain America, is of course able to delve deeper into each character. However all of the members of The Avengers, had much of their personalities watered down in The Avengers movie. Being in the presence of one another they did show some uneasiness, but nothing too volatile. Whereas The Guardians of the Galaxy were very aggressive to one another, because their personalities seemed much stronger. However this is necessary as the GotG were unknown and therefore the viewer needed to see them as individuals before being convinced that could really be a group of heroes. Being that these characters were all new giving them strong attitudes helps us better understand these characters as individuals.Quill is a selfish thief, Gamora is an assassin looking for redemption, Drax is killing seeking revenge, while Rocket and Groot are outcasts/mercenaries.The fact that they’re all different races further cements that these protagonists are indeed unique. Of course they can all put aside their differences and through unconventional means form a dynamic team.
James Gunn was able to help the audience understand these characters, by devoting a good amount of screen time to their origins, Though only Quill’s life is actually shown onscreen. The movie flows pretty well with a few hicips that make you wonder whats going on. Most of these are usually caused by Quill, at times he comes off as being too awkward. Likewise in a few shots Pratt’s acting doesn’t seem believable. so he sometimes seems like a flat actor. Though for the most part Quill is very comedic and brings some relief to tense moments, while still showing signs of being human. The group arguments between the Guardians is always fun to watch being that they are all trying to prove themselves to each other. Ronan makes a good villain and so at times he seems overqualified to be the main villain of the film. He also elaborates on who Thanos is and what he wants. setting things up, for possible The Avengers 3. The effects are without question well made and executed. Especially when Quill saves Gamora from dying in space. There are many great scenes in the movie. Though the opening scene with Quill and his mom is probably one of the best photographed in the film. So overall Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely worth a watch, at least two. You may not like it compared to other comic book films as the heroes aren’t typical, however you may find yourself empathizing with the Guardians of the Galaxy regardless about what you may initially feel about them.