Saturday, August 02, 2014

Popcorn for One - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (some Spoilers)

I have been excited about this film since it was first announced, as I have been a fan of the Guardians since the very, first team was introduced in an issue of MARVEL SUPER-HEROES back in 1969.  The team, created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan was very different from the characters currently making up the GotG and appearing on the Big Screen.

I find it interesting that the only character from the original team used in the film, Yondu (played by Michael Rooker) is very, different except for skin tone and weapon from the way he was portrayed in the initial series. Then he was a 'noble savage' and apparently the last of his race, while the new Yondu isn't given a back story other than he was the one that abducted Peter Quill/Star-Lord the night that Peter's mother dies on Earth.  Other wise the team is the one put together by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning from characters they had used in Marvel's ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST company event involving a number of the companies inter-galactic heroes and worlds. A mixed bag for sure. With some new and others having appeared in slightly different fashion over the years throughout the Marvel Universe. Star-Lord (created by Steve Englehart in '76) has gone through a number of recons over the years.Rocket Raccoon (created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen as 'Rocky Racoon' in tribute to the Beatles song, also in '76), as in the film Rocket was genetically modified from his actual form and his intelligence increased a great deal. Both Drax the Destroyer and Gamora have origins in the film very similar to those in the comics, with their connections (one way or the other) to Thanos.Of all the Guardians, it is probably Groot that is most different from his original characterization. Co-created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers for a one-shot SF story in one of those pre-Marvel Age "monster comics".  Called there the "Monarch of Planet X" Groot had come to Earth to experiment on humans in order to discover how he could conquer the planet.  As always happens in those stories, Groot discovered that we humans really didn't take kindly to that sort of thing.  As with the other new GotG, Groot was made over for the ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST  series and has continued as a member since.

The film begins with in 1988, with a young Peter Quill in a hospital waiting for the expected death of his mother.  Unable to take her hand as she lay dying the grief stricken child runs out onto the lawn only to be suddenly engulfed in light from a large spaceship that appears overhead.  This is the last time that Quill will see Earth, his only memories of his past those items he had in a backpack he had when he was taken aboard by Yondru and his mercenary Ravagers.  Among those is a cassette player that holds a mix tape his mother made for him of her favorite songs.  It's those songs that provide most of the sound track of the film, and they are used perfectly, IMHO. Reflecting the action and mood of many of the scenes that take place.

Twenty plus years after his abduction, Peter, who has taken the name Star-Lord (a name his mother would call him) as a member of Yondru's crew and is in the midst of stealing an object for an unknown client when events come into play that lead Peter into conflict with the other members of what will become the Guardians.  Initially confrontational, the future heroes find themselves imprisoned by the Nova Corps, the police officers and protectors of a world that has become a target for a renegade Kree (one of a number of Marvel alien races), Ronan the Accuser who refuses to recognize a peace treaty between his race and the Nova Corp. Rocket devises an escape plan, which more or less works, allowing the group to get away.

We discover along the way that Ronan has had to ally himself with Thanos (introduced at the end of the first AVENGERS film), with the goal of getting the object Quill stole. With this Thanos has promised to give Ronan the power he needs to get his own revenge.  There is a lot of Marvel history going on here, which you can find better explained on Wikipedia, involving the Infinity gems and gauntlet that Thanos, among others, has sort for years.  The gems were first mentioned in the second THOR film, where The Collector was also introduced. Lots of battles, between individuals, armies and star ships take place and our heroes come to understand that they must unite in order to save the world and perhaps the galaxy from Ronan's obsession.

A lot of things are tied up at the end, but a number of questions remain unanswered, leading to the next film in this new franchise.  One of these may be the identity of Peter's actual father.  Personally, I can't wait since there are probably a lot more cool songs on that cassette we haven't heard yet.

The movie captured me with the opening sequence and never failed to keep me excited throughout.  As with all Marvel movies, you really need to stay for the closing credit sequence. Two in the case of this movie. The first is cute and the second might only appeal to die-hard Marvel fans, but I actually applauded and laughed while some other folks screamed out the name of the character revealed.  'Nuff said!
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