Yesterday, I had some fairly negative things to say about the prospects of an upcoming Justice League movie, because of how different it’s going to be from Marvel’s The Avengers, which was a huge success last summer.
But all that negativity got me to thinking. Maybe DC/WB shouldn’t try to copy the formula that made The Avengers so successful. One doesn’t have to look hard to find a formula that might work much more to their advantage: The formula Marvel is currently working on in regards to next summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Guardians are a pretty well-known team to comic book fans, but the general movie-going public has no clue what they’re all about, a fact that I don’t think is inevitably going to matter all that much. Whereas the Avengers took the long approach to developing each individual of their team in their own standalone movies before adding all the parts together for the team-up, Guardians is instead just throwing as much talent as they can possibly muster into a gigantic cast for a movie that will eventually, presumably, somehow tie into everything else in the Marvel Universe.
It’s a huge gamble. But I think it’s going to work. Let me explain why.
First of all, now that Marvel has established where they want to go with their properties during what they’re calling “Phase Two” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Joss Whedon has taken on a supervisory role, offering advice to the various filmmakers tasked with each individual film and acting as a guiding hand over the entire process. His involvement on Guardians is probably minimal, but at least they have a guy who’s making sure everything is fitting together. That’s important.
Next, I’m excited for something different. One of the things that made Iron Man so great when it came out is that, here was a movie where the main superhero wasn’t afraid of people knowing his secret identity. We’d grown so accustomed to superheroes preserving their secret identities to protect the ones they love (while staring wistfully out of a window or crying in the rain), that it was nice for a guy to finally stand up and say, “Y’know what, I can handle the heat. I’m Iron Man.”
This promises more of that same sort of departure, away from what we’ve come to expect in a superhero movie. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy, I’d recommend you get caught up on Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s recent run (available at comic book shops everywhere!). But this is a team that features a talking Raccoon that serves as the team’s weapons specialist. His best friend is a giant tree named Groot. Don’t worry, if you forget that name, he’ll remind you of it constantly.
But what has me most excited for this movie is the cast. It’s as weird as the team itself. Of the actors announced so far, we don’t know for sure who they’re all playing, but it’s still shaping up to be extraordinary. In brief:
Chris Pratt – Peter Quill aka Starlord – The Leader of the Group
Zoe Saldana – Gamora – Thanos’ adopted daughter
The Animal Batista – Drax – The team’s muscle, created specifically to murder Thanos
Michael Rooker – Yondu – Founding member of the original team
John C. Reilly – Rhomann Dey – Nova Prime
Glenn Close – unknown
Benecio Del Toro – unknown
Hopefully they’ll add Major Victory to the final roster, just because it’d be a cool tie-in to have somebody wielding Captain America’s shield. Plus, Adam Warlock has to be involved somehow, doesn’t he? And I’d love to see a guy like a Quasar or a Nova that serves more as a team member than just Nova Prime, who I’m guessing will be something like the Agent Coulson of the Guardians. That’s just me daydreaming and fantasizing, though. None of it adds or detracts from what they’re working on here.
But just look at those names. They don’t belong together in a superhero movie. At all! That’s friggin’ weird!
And that’s why I think it’s going to work. When you’re dealing with a team that features talking raccoons, telekinetic cosmonaut dogs and time-displaced heroes from entirely different dimensions and centuries, you need to either embrace the weirdness and hopefully capture something spectacular, or you shy away from it and make something that will likely seem ashamed of itself. I, for one, am excited to see them try to embrace the weirdness.
If they fail, at least they’ll fail in a manner befitting the Guardians of the Galaxy.