Stan Lee, Arnold Drake, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Nicole Perlman, and James Gunn, 2014

This is the first of these Marvel movies that had virtually no nostalgia value for me—​nor for anyone else who saw them.  It’s true that the Guardians of the Galaxy have been around for a while, but they were C‐listers at best.  They spent 1978 wandering around in the margins of the Korvac Saga, then had their own series for a few years in the early ’90s.  But those weren’t even the same Guardians!  The Guardians of the 20th century were a super‐team from the 31st century, with about as cheesy a concept as you could imagine: you had the one from Mercury whose hair was made of fire, and the one from Pluto whose body was made of ice, and the one from Jupiter who was strong and squat to withstand the gravity… it’s really kind of startling that the team wasn’t based on a toy line.  This new set of Guardians dates all the way back to the misty past of 2008, meaning that by the time the movie came out in 2014 anyone who’d grown up with the new team wasn’t actually grown up yet.  The individual characters had been around for a while—​I eagerly plucked the first issue of Rocket Raccoon off the spinner rack when I was a kid, and Groot predates the Fantastic Four by over a year—​but as assembled, the new Guardians seem as though they might have been put together with the movies in mind.  And since I hadn’t imprinted on them at age nine, they had a lot more work to do to win me over.

And I guess they basically succeeded.  I did like the movie.  I figured I should say that up front, because most of what I have to say about it is critical:

  • Way too much of the tired setup‐callback screenwriting gimmick

  • While the jokes are funny enough, they also get repetitive—​yes, you’re puncturing the sentiment, we get it

  • The action sequences are too chaotic to follow and the glee the movie takes in the high body count is distasteful

  • I’m fine with the “misfit loners discover the value of connecting with and relying on each other” theme, but it is very difficult for a character learning a lesson to carry much weight in only two hours, and this movie doesn’t pull it off

  • Quentin Tarantino’s “Super Sounds of Stagflation” mix tapes are better

  • With this kind of budget, surely you can make different‐colored skin look better than caked‐on body paint

But despite all this, there was a fair amount of smiley time packed into the movie and I did develop some affection for these characters who initially meant nothing to me, so ultimately I have to give it a thumbs‐up.  I’m actually looking forward to seeing the second one, while as a kid I had no particular desire to hunt down the second issue of Rocket Raccoon.

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