It was announced this week that Marvel Studios’ 2014 Summer plans hinged on bringing the interstellar Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen. While not as famous, or, frankly, recognizable at all to the mainstream, I believe this movie could actually pay off in a huge way for the studio.
So, who are these “Guardians of the Galaxy”? They first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1969. They were not originally part of the regular Marvel Universe continuity. Since they were active in the 31st century, they operated on their own giving writers the ability to build stories of their own. By the 70s, a new team that was connected directly with the regular Marvel Universe (known as the 616) appeared. This team would make a guest appearance in the Avengers title before moving onto a particularly well-loved series in the 1990s.
In 2008, a new team came together in a second volume of the series. These characters came from a very popular mini-series known as Annihilation. Members of this new team, consisting of Star-Lord, Quasar, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Adam Warlock, later would appear in the animated Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! series. A variation of this very team is still out there appearing in their own runs of mini-series, or as guest stars in other series, ever since the conclusion of Annihilation.
Now, the original team seemed more in line with your typical superhero gang. Both teams have this, but the original Guardians seemed much more like a future version of the Avengers. Think of them a little like an adult Legion of Superheroes being a future incarnation of the Justice League. The newer team, while still having members with powers, is almost more of a task force or a squadron than a band of superheroes. They are often seen in uniform like a group of special, space police handling the toughest of cosmic issues that not even the most powerful of Earth’s heroes can handle.
So, there’s a bit of a background if you weren’t familiar with this group. How will Marvel approach this movie and make it profitable?
Well, let’s face it, ever since Iron Man, it seems that everything Marvel Studios touches turns to gold. With The Avengers now the highest grossing, non-James Cameron movie ever, perhaps now is the right time for them to try some other things. With the X-Men and Fantastic Four’s movie rights at Fox, and Spider-Man’s at Sony, this doesn’t exactly leave Marvel in the easiest position to expand on their heroes. Obviously, there’s still plenty of room to expand on the Avengers characters, and Ant-Man is one that appears to be the next as director Edgar Wright has begun shooting test footage.
Marvel has decided to turn their attention to their vast set of cosmic characters. A movie about a group of largely unknown characters to the public is most definitely a risk. Is it a risk worth taking? Yeah, I think it is. If there’s one thing Marvel Studios has done much better than Warner Bros. has with the DC characters is know how to tell stories that are as fun as they are easy to follow. Iron Man and Thor, though always known characters to anyone who ever picked up a Marvel comic in their youth, didn’t seem, on the surface, to be characters that could be profitable movie stars. Marvel did it. They knew how to make the characters interesting and entertaining. They had faith that the most loyal of readers would love seeing their heroes handled well, and had enough smarts to guide the movies toward being enjoyed by just about anyone who came to the theater.
I feel Guardians of the Galaxy could just turn out to be one of the most surprisingly entertaining movies Marvel will ever do. However, Marvel needs to be careful not to treat this movie as anything beyond simple entertainment. If they try to bend too much to exactly what readers or fans of the team would want, then this movie will fall apart and come off as a bad movie. This was a major problem with the Green Lantern movie. It tried to incorporate too much of what the readers knew from the comics when it simply needed to be a fun, sci-fi/action movie. It bogged itself down with relationships between characters, ideas, and locations that the readers felt were more important than it really was to tell the story.
Let this be fun, Marvel. Find the bare essence of the characters and then open all the doors to see what happens next with them. Give it a adventuring attitude. It doesn’t have to have the same amount of comedy The Avengers did, but it should have that recognizable Marvel wit we’ve seen in the other movies. If these things exist in the movie, this could stand to be a real big hit for the studio.
Time will tell what we will see out of this most unexpected announcement for the next big Marvel franchise to hit theaters. As images and trailers come we should have a fairly solid idea how this is going to be handled. It’s awfully early, but I can’t help to be excited about what this could end up being.
Also, I can’t help but believe this bit of news really changes Thanos’ appearance at the end of The Avengers and what that could potentially mean for Marvel movies.
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