If this is your first time reading one of these, it’s the latest entry in a series where I go back and watch each movie in the Marvel Cinematic universe from the very beginning. Coming as a result of me realising that I’ve haven’t seen most of them a second time since the cinema. Check this link out of you want to see the archive so far.
This series came about because of my realisation that I hadn’t rewatched most of the MCU movies after the initial cinema experience, Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly not an example of that, being the movie that I’ve found myself watching over and over. For a long time, I said it was my favourite movie in the MCU, and upon revisiting it, I find it difficult to budge from that position.
It’s, ironically, Marvel’s most human story
In a movie starring a bunch of aliens, a genetically modified racoon and a half celestial, Guardians tells a more human story than any of the entires in the MCU that came before. Up until now, the movies told tales of larger than life characters and how the world had to make way for them.
Tony Stark’s story may one of personal growth, but it doesn’t stop him from making huge waves and becoming a rockstar superhero as he surges forward. The same goes for Steve Rogers and Thor. One wakes up in a world where he is a symbol and an icon, the other is a literal god.
It’s not like that for the Guardians. They’re quite literally the lowest of the low. At least, that’s how they are when the movie starts out. A bunch of petty criminals, thieves, bounty hunters and assassins. They exist out in an unfamiliar galaxy where tree people, psychic arrows and infinity stones are the norm.
Thus the story isn’t about how they come to terms with being extraordinary, instead it’s a story about how they can band together and save the day while being ordinary. Well as close to ordinary as this messed up bunch of a-holes can get.
Because It’s about family
Ironic that another movie heavily focusing on family being where you find it stars Vin Diesel. Despite there being so many high science fiction concepts being thrown at the audience throughout this movie, at its core the movie is a relatively grounded one. Individually, the Guardians are messed up people, with complicated histories that have shaped them into… let’ say less than upstanding individuals.
It’s only together that they can achieve something greater, not just that though, as together they can start to feel accepted and “human” again. For lack of a better term. Each of them carry pain within them, the pain of loss. As a result, they all struggle to connect and form new relationships as remain stuck on those that left them behind.
Seeing them at each other’s throats in the beginning, moving into an uneasy alliance of convenience and joining together as a family by the end; it’s actually the most touching and heartwarming movie in the series so far. We care about this collection of asshole because they care about one another, not because they love one another or that it’s the right thing to do, but because you can see that they actually need one another in a way the other heroes of the MCU don’t need anyone.
They really are family.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s hilarious either
Guardians, aside from being the most heartwarming movie in the franchise is also the most genuinely funny one too. Chris Pratt plays a great affable, but good hearted dope. Bradley Cooper brings Rocket to life as a prickly, reluctant hero. Zoe Saldana is a great straight man to the rest of the group whilst also being way cuter in this than I remember. And everything Groot and Drax do is downright hilarious.
Before I saw this, If you tole me Dave Bautista would steal every scene he was in. In a movie with a CGI talking Racoon, I wouldn’t have believed you. Every actor brings their comedy chops to this movie and there isn’t really a bad performance in it.
Despite being one of the most flat villains the franchise has ever produced, even the look of horror on Lee Pace’s face when Peter Quill starts dancing at Ronan during the film’s finale is utterly priceless. It makes me smile now just thinking about it.
The comedic tone to this movie made real waves in the MCU and allowed for the series to lean even further into comedy than it had before. Ant-Man and Ragnarok would take inspiration from Guardians and become straight up comedies, Although none, I feel, reached the peaks of amazing moments that was this movie.
Which is, in large parts thanks to the soundtrack
A great soundtrack can make a great movie amazing. And that’s the case for Guardians. Even I bought the soundtrack for this, and I don’t listen to that much music.
While the movie has its own, MCU sounding score, it’s packed with a pretty great selection of songs from the 60s-80s. The greatest thing being how it’s all used diegetically, one of the few words I remember from my film studies days. Every time one of these songs is heard, it’s because it’s being played somewhere in the world through Peter’s Awesome Mix tape.
It’s part of the reason Tarantino’s movies have such a defined hallmark of him as director, and it’s also the thing that helps James Gunn’s Guardians stand out amongst the rest of the MCU as something completely unique.
It’s still within the MCU and setting up for the big one
This is the movie that really starts to feel like it has Endgame in its sights. Thanos plays a large role in this movie, and we also finally get an, in universe explanation of what the infinity stones are, and what kind of threat they pose to the universe.
I adore this movie for so many reasons, but mostly because I like and connect the characters far more than I do any of the other heroes of the MCU. Historically, Marvel have made their character more human and relatable than the characters of other comic book franchises.
The Guardians are the most relatable of any characters they’ve introduced so far. Because they take what might be the most outlandish, ambitious movie and setting of the MCU so far and tell the most basic, human story within it. Which ends up being the real strength of the MCU in a nutshell. No matter what the stakes are or how big the explosions, the human story is what connects us to the story.