Five Reasons to Be Excited About Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
March 8th, 2014

Marvel Studios is debuting the latest in space operas and comic book crossovers with "Guardians of the Galaxy." In this action epic, pilot Peter Quill has just stolen a highly desired orb, and he enlists the help of a band of misfits to evade authorities and villains alike. This film is the likely breakout hit of its summer release, so here is what to watch for in particular.

Number 1: Peter Quill's self-deprecating charm

The movie's superhero, Peter Quill, calls himself the Star-Lord, but he is no Captain America. He does not take himself too seriously, nor does he expect anyone else to do so.

From the very beginning, when Quill is caught stealing the orb by a mutant SWAT team, the movie pokes fun at the protagonist's obscure status. When asked his name, he replies with gravitas, "Star-Lord." With resignation, he sighs over the fact that no one knows who he is.

Number 2: Killer special effects

This is a galactic space opera about misfit superheroes, and the special effects are epic. During a Comic Con press conference, director James Gunn talked about the sheer magnitude of the sets alone, "Our sets are enormous. We have a prison that is 350,000 pounds of steel." In fact, though, the special effects mix this practical element of film-making with ambitious CGI effects.

Besides all the effects that go into the space setting, some of the characters are mostly animated. Action superstar Vin Diesel loaned his voice and body movements to be the walking tree goon, Groot. Apparently turning the already burly Diesel into a tree took "the better part of a year," according to Gunn. The most ambitious character to animate, though, is Rocket. He is a genetically engineered raccoon. He loves guns. He is no bigger than an average raccoon, and the logistics alone of placing him in the set took two actors.

Number 3: Rocket Raccoon

It is not very often that a film includes an anthropomorphized animal character not aimed toward children, and Rocket Raccoon most definitely is not a children's character. Rocket is a fierce warrior with genetically engineered, human-grade intelligence. The creature has depth.

Rocket was the chief law officer of an abandoned colony for mentally ill inmates. That heritage provides the reason he was genetically engineered, so that animals could supply caretaking duties on the planet. That is a lot of pedigree for a gun-wielding raccoon.

Rocket does not just like weapons, though. He is actually an expert marksman and a master tactician. He is going to grunt, sneer and wise-crack his way through the movie, all from behind the visage of a raccoon.

Number 4: Subtle sex appeal

Marvel Comics does not go the obvious route when including sex appeal in the storyline. There are no scantily clad women with gravity-defying bosoms. While one character, Drax the Destroyer, does walk around shirtless, his hulking chest appears to be covered in red moss. Also, Vin Diesel is a tree.

Instead, the superheroes appeal to viewers in their surprising weirdness. Gamora is less femme fatale than fatalistic anti-hero. True, her curves are well-outlined in tight costumes, but she glowers through the screen with a poisonous, dead-eyed stare. She is also green.

This formula continues throughout the film. Ancillary characters and even villains may seem sexy at first glance. But their alien natures prevent their overt sex appeal. Either they are bald, have abnormal eyes, come in atypical and uneven hues or they are surprisingly goofy.

Number 5: They are unusual

"The Guardians of the Galaxy" film is not formulaic. It cannot be, as the premise alone offers too many variables. Unique is hard to come by, especially in the world of superhero movies. However, Marvel Studios' film promises exactly that.

How is "Guardians of the Galaxy" different? What uniqueness do they offer besides a walking warrior tree, gun-wielding raccoon and goofy lead? Actually, that's it. The characters are obscure. They come to the audience with peculiar backstories. Animal guardians of a mental asylum planet? Who even comes up with that?

The plot itself is unlikely to offer too many surprises. The superheroes are almost certainly going to prevail, as they usually do in such films, but in this case they are just going to do so in bizarre ways.

Marvel Comics is known for its cult fan base. Already fans of the original "Guardians of the Galaxy" are brushing up on the lore of these odd superheroes. This level of dedication is not necessary for the casual viewer, though. The producers are already introducing the audience to their alien world and its inhabitants in the film's trailers. The rest promises to be a good yarn with state-of-the-art special effects.