Guardians of the Galaxy – journey down memory lane

Embed from Getty Images
Cast and crew of “Guardians of the Galaxy” during Photocall on July 24th 2014 in London, England.
From left to the right side: James Gunn, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan and Dave Bautista.

!May contain spoilers!

In several weeks the cinemas across the globe will be showing the highly anticipated sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy” titled “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and many more incredible performers including Kurt Russell and Nathan Fillion. So today I would like to share with you some thoughts on the first movie, which I watched for the second time with some friends the other night. At this point, being so close to the release of the second film I believe it to be quite nice to look back and reflect on the first movie. So lay back and enjoy a trip down memory lane to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

In the last years there has been an increasing interest in movies based on diverse comic books and graphic novels. For most times such films deliver incredible action scenes, breathtaking visual effects, superb ensemble of actresses and actors and much more, fulfilling among other things a goal of entertaining audiences across the globe. Thanks to innovations in technology and computer science motion pictures about superheroes alongside all other films from the science-fiction and fantasy genres benefit significantly from these modern age technological advancements and thus deliver astonishing content. The idea of bringing film adaptations of comic books to the big screen is certainly not new. The movie titled “Superman and the Mole Man” aired 1951 in the cinemas and is one of the first superhero films ever made, and the first live-action adaptation of a DC comic book. Since then a huge number of films and TV shows have emerged portraying the lives of superheroes. However, this genre experienced an unbelievable popularity acceptance especially in the recent years and became a major playground for the two biggest comic publishers Marvel and DC Comics.

Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn is a film based on one of the Marvel Comic book series under the same title. The movie tells a story about a group of compelling individuals who rather unwillingly and unexpectedly come together as a team and save the world from the biggest threat. James Gunn who directed the movie, also wrote its screenplay and was able to apply his skills gained in the superhero genre in the past. His very first movie “Slither” starring Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks was brought to the big screen in 2006, in which James showed his skills as a director and writer of a horror comedy. The movie was received quite well by the critics, gaining a 69 score at metacritcs.com and 86% on rottentomatoes.com. Years later in 2010 James published his first superhero movie titled “Super”, where he once again acted as a writer and director. The comedy film focused on the life of the superhero Crimson Bolt, failed though to convince critics (50 metascore on metacritics.com & 49% on rottentomatoes.com). However, having quite a talented cast including Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon the movie was still perceived well in some circles and was rated with 6.8 out of 10 by IMDB users. It was then 4 years later that James ventured into the superhero genre once again with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This time James wrote the script for the film together with Nicole Perlman and based it on the Marvel comic book written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Using his expertise in the comedy as well as the superhero genres, James masterfully included comical scenes in the film binding them together with action loaded, superhero, sci-fi elements and thus created a highly entertaining and tremendously funny motion picture. One of his most brilliant contributions was the inclusion of music from the 1970s and 1980s and actually filming a movie having these great sounds already at hand, thus creating a unique atmosphere in the film. In his interview with IGN James stated that:

“Those [songs] are cultural reference points. I knew that when we were making a movie that’s in outer space, you want to have it be this big grand adventure, but you also want to ground people in something that’s real, that seems familiar. It’s striking the balance throughout the whole movie, through something that is very unique, but also something that is easily accessible to people at the same time. The music and the Earth stuff is one of those touchstones that we have to remind us that, yeah, this is a real person from planet Earth who’s just like you and me. Except that he’s in this big outer space adventure.”
Tilly, Chris (May 16, 2014). “15 Reasons To Get Excited About Guardians Of The Galaxy”. IGN. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved April 9th, 2017.

Through the entire movie the mixtape Peter Quill, the main character, listens to and has on him in his walkman demonstrates the significance of his life before his actual endeavours and establishes a direct connection to Earth and to his mother. Directly in the opening sequence after the prolog you see Star-Lord listening to the the mixtape while exploring an abandoned site and later on you see this exact mixtape in a sort of old fashioned music player, as illustrated in the picture on the right, and when the camera moves around you realize that you are on a futuristic spaceship somewhere in outer space. Just these moments set an incredibly enjoyable mood for the entire movie. Even at this moment while writing this article I have this urge to listen to 1974 version of “Hooked on a Feeling” performed by the Swedish band Blue Swede. Excellently done, James!


The main male lead of the film is Chris Pratt portraying Peter Quill (or Star-Lord), who is a sort of scavenger hunter fulfilling tasks for a criminal organisation led by Yonda Udonta (performed by Michael Rooker). As illustrated in the screenshot you can see Yonda lecturing Peter Quill on the current tasks at hand.

Chris does an amazing job playing this funny and easy going character who at the same time has a difficult and tragic past centered around the death of his mother. This was the first time for Chris being in a live-action superhero movie, who got his breakthrough in television in series such as Everwood and The O.C. and went on being part of the cast of such notable films as Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. However, in my opinion his career received an incredible boost after his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy, for which he received several awards including Saturn Award for Best Actor from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. He delivered a really likable and funny performance, which was well perceived by the critics. Here a comment by Scott Foundas from Variety:

“But the core characters are lovingly fleshed out by the performers, especially Pratt, who seems to be grooving to his own private soundtrack even when he doesn’t have his headphones in his ears…”.
Foundas, Scott (July 24, 2014). Film Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Variety. Retrieved April 15th, 2017.

Chris really seems to be enjoying his role and is having fun on the set and thus delivers a great portrayal of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. In an interview with IndieWire, James Gunn revealed that Chris Pratt was not his first choice while he was in the casting process and he even refuses to see him at the time. Despite that, James finally saw Chris and was fascinated:

“Chris came in and read it and within 20 seconds I knew he was the guy.”
Taylor, Drew (July 31, 2014). ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Director James Gunn Discusses Working With Joss Whedon, Sequels, Marvel “Risks” & More. IndieWire. Retrieved April 15th, 2017.

I believe Chris found something he really enjoys and is good at performing in science-fiction and fantasy movies. After Guardians of the Galaxy he went along with a sequel to Jurassic Park and later on with a science-fiction adventure “Passengers” starring alongside Jennifer Lawrence. At this moment Chris is tied up within the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the movies “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War”. To be honest with you, Chris is doing everything absolutely right as I would really like to see him as Star-Lord once again, joining up with other Marvel’s superheroes.

The fictional character of Gamora was created for the Marvel Comics by Jim Starlin back in 1975 and was performed by the talented and beautiful Zoe Saldana. Zoe, though having very little experience being in the superhero genre, aside from her role in the adaptation of the DC(Vertigo) comic book “The Losers” in 2010, brought a lot to the table due to her previous performances in several ground breaking science-fiction films. At this point I would have to mention James Cameron’s Avatar which was brought to the big screen back in 2009, where Zoe portrayed Neytiri (representing an alien race the humans encountered). I am not a fan of the Avatar movie and do not support this current hype around Cameron’s movie franchise, therefore I will refrain from mentioning it further. Striking for me was Zoe’s involvement and her performance as Lt. Nyota Uhura in the long awaited Star Trek movie, starring alongside Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. The movie premiered back in 2009 and received outstanding critical acclaim (a score of 82 on metacritic.com and 95% on rotten tomatoes) and gathered many awards including an Oscar for the Best Achievement in Makeup. Zoe performed great in Star Trek, playing this strong woman Lt. Uhura who stands out as an essential crew member of a team mostly consisting of men lead by James Kirk (performed by Chris Pine). Before joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, Zoe went on performing once again as Lt. Uhura in the second installment of Star Trek in 2013, called “Star Trek Into Darkness”. In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, Zoe was asked what she finds so appealing in playing these sci-fi roles, to which she replied:

“I get to imagine the unimaginable.[…] Plus, you get to play characters who defy gravity. I like that.[.. ]So I think science fiction has given me the ability as an artist to be colourblind, and gender-blind, and to imagine and reinvent myself and be the chameleon actors are supposed to be.”
Piper, Robert (April 8, 2017). “Why Zoe Saldana prefers sci-fi to the real world”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 15th, 2017.

Such way of thinking underlines Zoe’s passion for the sci-fi movies and helps her deliver a stunning and authentic performance. So having all these experiences gathered in science-fiction movies, Zoe brilliantly adapted and wonderfully portrayed Gamora, the adoptive daughter of Thanos (one of the biggest villains within the Marvel Universe). Fitting within the movie concept Gamora rather unwillingly finds herself part of this unlikely team “Guardians of the Galaxy”, trying to defeat Ronan and subsequently oppose Thanos. Slightly different to her role in Star Trek, Zoe now shows her wild and raw side playing Gamora who clearly acts on her passions and follows the paths laid out by her own priorities. Nevertheless, Gamora’s character evolves throughout the movie influenced by Star-Lord and other team members so that she appears to be more stable towards the end when the team receives a ceremony celebrating their accomplishments, as illustrated in the picture above. Zoe wonderfully shows this transition of Gamora’s character and leaves us hoping to see more of her in the upcoming Vol.2.

Accompanying Zoe and Chris on this adventurous and funny journey, was an ensemble of incredible actresses and actors including Bradley Cooper (as Rocket), Dave Bautista (as Drax), Vin Diesel (as Groot), Lee Pace (as Ronan) and last but not least the breathtaking Glenn Close (as Nova Prime) as well as Academy Award Winner Benicio Del Toro (as the Collector). Having these talents on a superhero sci-fi movie such as Guardians is amazing and gives the film additional value at the same time showing that even strong dramatic performers such as Glenn Close have a lot of fun being part of this kind of crazy sci-fi adventure. Certainly, Marvel movies have attracted a lot of high-profile actresses and actors in the past and still do that today. In one of the interview James Gunn mentioned regarding these A-list actors being part of Guardians:

“I think they were fans of Marvel and I think they liked the script and I think, more importantly, we got along.”
Taylor, Drew (July 31, 2014). ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Director James Gunn Discusses Working With Joss Whedon, Sequels, Marvel “Risks” & More. IndieWire. Retrieved April 15th, 2017.

I believe that quite a few great actors and actresses take pleasure in science-fiction and fantasy movies but mostly do it because they just want to have some fun on the set and would like to be entertained. Just look at this picture of Glenn Close, who is definitely reveling in her role! In case of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, we actually do not really see them on screen but just hear their voices. Bradley goes all the way and does incredible things with his voice making Rocket’s performance highly enjoyable and authentic. As for Vin, well he just says one sentence during the entire movie using different intonations which is however very funny within the concept of the film.

Summing up, all of the cast and crew worked wonderfully together on this adaptation of the Marvel’s comic book and through joined efforts delivered a high quality content for a diverse audience. Guardians of the Galaxy premiered in the USA on July 21st 2014 and had its European premiere in London 3 days later. The film got some pretty good reviews from the critics (gathering a score of 76 on metacritic.com) and was well received by the public having up to date an 8.1 out of 10 score from the users of IMDB.com. The movie was even nominated for Academy Awards for the categories of Best Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling. In my opinion the first installment of Guardians of the Galaxy was a great stepping stone for many more movies to come centered around Star-Lord and his team of funny, crazy and highly entertaining friends. As mentioned at the beginning of the article there are less than two weeks left until the premiere of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”. I share the anticipation of the fans and I am curious to see what James Gunn and his cast and crew accomplished this time. It still remains to be seen if the bar can be raised with the second movie. As for the other films, there has been an announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy being part of the “Avengers: Infinity War” which will premiere in 2018. This will give us an opportunity to see the Guardians alongside Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man and many more other more famous Marvel heroes fighting together against a common threat. Such a crossover of heroes looks to be very promising and lets us hope to expect 100% entertainment and a lot of fun!

I will be writing a review on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” after I have watched the movie in the cinema end of April. In case you have not watched a trailer yet, be sure to visit the following link: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Trailer World Premiere.

I hope you enjoyed this article about the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this current review or my blog, please do not hesitate to leave me a message in the comments section or to just email me.


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