Giggling in the Galaxy
By: Meg Humphrey
Like much of the nerd community, I was eagerly awaiting Guardians of the Galaxy. I even stayed up late to see a Thursday night showing (I am usually promptly in bed by 10:00pm). Thankfully the movie delivered beautifully and was completely worth the loss of sleep the next day!
This is a little spoilery, as far as character development goes. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’ve been warned!
Like a Pixar movie, Guardians hits you hard and fast with despair, but quickly brings you back with cheerfulness and hearty laughs. Now you care; now you want Quill to succeed no matter what. They do it again in the casino with Rocket, just in case you forgot that everything isn’t fun and games. Because the plot of the movie is nothing new, they has to be something else to keep you involved. They give you just enough sadness to keep emotionally invested and that really made a difference for me.
We also need to congratulate Marvel on making a raccoon, a tree, and a pro wrestler the newest beloved characters in the MCU. I already knew I would love Rocket and Groot (huge Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel fangirl over here), but it was my fondness for Drax that surprised me the most. I have never read any of the comics for Guardians of the Galaxy, so maybe his characterization wasn’t unexpected for those who have. I expected him to be merciless and motivated by money or love of carnage, like Bautista’s character in Riddick. I mean, how much could you expect from someone who adds “the Destroyer” onto his name? Although his revenge motivation isn’t by any means unique, it at least gives him some humanity to go along with his hilariously literal nature. Plus, he actually learns and grows (a little) as the movie progresses.
I have seen several comments on Twitter about how the background aliens aren’t alien enough. And while I do love weird and crazy aliens (think Mos Eisley Cantina), I’m not necessarily disappointed in the blandness of them in Guardians. Unlike Star Wars, there hasn’t been a precedence set by Marvel for the abundance of unusual alien life. Most of the sentient aliens we’ve seen thus far (like in the Thor franchise) have been more or less humanoid. They make it very clear in Guardians that creatures like Groot or Rocket are rare and unexpected. For the most part in the MCU, being alien means skin conditions, magical powers, and exaggerated characteristics.
My beef with the movie is that it still carries basic Hollywood sexism (and yes, I realize it was penned by Nicole Perlman, but being written by a woman doesn’t mean it can’t be sexist). In general, I’m over the womanizer-with-a-heart-of-gold hero (I’m looking at you, basically every character Chris Pine has ever played). Don’t get me wrong, Chris Pratt is hilarious and endearing as Peter Quill, but besides a comedic scene with Gamorra refusing his advances, he doesn’t get called out his behavior. On the other hand, Gamorra – who doesn’t act overtly sexual, gets called “whore” for just being a woman. People despise her for her participation in murders and serving Thanos, not for sleeping around. I also had to roll my eyes every time there was an unnecessary close up of Gamorra’s backside. I understand the scene where she’s walking up the stairs and Quill looks after her commenting on how gross the Milano is on the inside. That part is to show Quill’s nature, not Gamorra’s. There’s a scene on Ronan’s ship, the Dark Aster, that particularly bothered me. It starts with a closeup on her behind and then pans out to show the group and the interior of the ship. There is no reason it had to start that way besides fanservice. Sure, we had a gratuitous shot of Star Lord’s abs, but that doesn’t have the same exploitative feel to it (maybe because being a ripped dude is as much a male power fantasy as it is something catered to women).
Overall, I still really loved Guardians. It’s a movie I could watch again and again and not get bored. I think it’s a great addition to the MCU and it opens a galaxy of possibilities for the future.
P.S. Everyone – it was Quill’s MOTHER who made the Awesome Mixes, so please give credit where credit is due.