It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! Today, to commemorate the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we’re picking our favorite Marvel movie to date! To read up on Andy’s ludicrous selection, go ahead and click right here: Iron Man: The Best Marvel Movie To Date. Now, let me tell you why I’m right and make him look like 100% a dick.
I am unabashedly a Marvel fan. I’ve enjoyed every one of their films that have come out so far, and they have me damn excited for their upcoming releases. Yes, even Ant-Man. I mean, Paul Rudd looks as self-deprecating and smarmy as ever! Why aren’t YOU excited for it? But I digress.
Marvel’s story is actually pretty inspiring. I mean, back in the 90’s, the company filed for chapter 11, and now they are a movie powerhouse and part of one of the largest companies in the world! Don’t get me wrong, I worry for their soul, being part of a massive corporation like that, but so far their films have been true to the spirit of the comics, so…all’s well that ends well? So far, I guess.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, the best Marvel movie so far! It’s definitely Guardians of the Galaxy.
It would be easy to pick Iron Man or the Avengers, as they are more obvious Marvel superhero commodities. Heck, Captain America 2 was a downright amazing film with intense action and a very smart script and Thor was like watching Macbeth in Space. But from out of nowhere, here are the motherfuckin Guardians of the Galaxy! Who expected Marvel to make a movie starring these guys? Like, seriously? We got Rocket Raccoon and Groot on the big screen before anyone made a Wonder Woman movie!
So why does this deserve to be at the top of the Marvel list? It certainly didn’t make as much as the Avengers did, and Star Lord isn’t as recognizable as Iron Man is (yet), so what gives? Isn’t this basically “Avengers in Space” anyways?
It’s true, the film’s plot is basically the same plot as The Avengers. Good guys have to overcome their differences and work together in order to stop the bad guys from killing everybody. Even the characters could be considered counterparts for members of the Avengers.
We have The Leader, a handsome white guy who is also a man out of time (Star Lord/Captain America). The alien who is brutish and doesn’t understand nuances and customs of others (Thor/Drax). The acrobatic, assassin woman with a sordid past who is trying to make up for whatever those sins may be (Gamora/Black Widow). The cocky engineer who seemingly can make anything using any parts that he comes across (Iron Man/Rocket Raccoon). And the massive, green muscle (Hulk/Groot).
But even though there are similarities, I wouldn’t go so far as to call this movie a rip-off of Avengers. (Can a movie studio rip-off itself?) No, I would say more that they are relying on familiar tropes in order to introduce us to this new and really wild universe. When it comes to films like this, it helps to have a familiar feel to them, especially when we’re just first being exposed to a world as crazy as the Guardians inhabit. So we get a familiar story, we have a human lead who listens to songs we know and love, and we get plenty of comedy to make us feel comfortable. It’s not a bad thing, especially in the first film of a sci-fi franchise.
Speaking of comedy, that is another thing that this film does very well. Comedy doesn’t get enough credit in the film industry, when it really should. Now I’m not saying that a few fart jokes and a pie in the face automatically constitutes a work of art, but intelligent and well-placed comedy can elevate a film to a different level. This film is the definition of that principle. While we remember the fights and the aerial battle, what we really remember from Guardians of the Galaxy is the fantastic humor. Not only that, but it endears these weird characters to us. Drax should be kind of gross to the audience, but when he says things like “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it,” you can’t help but love him.
Speaking of, the performances in this movie were top-notch. Chris Pratt as Star Lord could charm Black Widow out of her skintight leather pants. Zoe Saldana as Gamora was vulnerable and completely badass at the same time (though, I admit that she was underutilized and hopefully her character gets more in the sequel). Bradley Cooper gave some serious pathos to Rocket Raccoon while still keeping the character tough and funny. Dave Bautista brought to Drax, who could easily be a one-note character, real depth and personality. The character was basically autistic (and that’s not meant as any form of insult) and he made the character relatable and badass at the same time. It’s not often that a character like that emerges, and I think it’s fantastic. And finally, Vin Diesel voicing Groot did an amazing job of giving a character with one line (I know, techinically 2), a real voice and heartfelt emotion. Everyone here gave a stellar performance, and while all the performances in Avengers were good, there was way more character work going on in Guardians of the Galaxy, and it was all the more captivating.
It didn’t hurt that each character had an individual story arc, as well. The script was very well crafted in that each character had their own motivations, then having reasons for their motivations to change. Star Lord and Rocket were selfish pricks out for personal gain, Drax was a revenge-crazed madman, Groot was just Rocket’s muscle (hard to say how selfish he actually is), and, ironically, Gamora, the “daughter” of Thanos was the only one actively working against the villain at first.
Throughout the course of the film, however, they butt heads and argue, they more than once are at each others’ throats, but they all come together and meld into a family by the end. Rocket was willing to say “fuck the galaxy” but by in the final battle he and Groot are willing to sacrifice their own lives to save their friends. They don’t have to ultimately, but they’re willing to! That’s some serious character development, which is severely lacking in the Avengers. This film is truly an amazing ensemble piece where everyone shares the screen and their characters are fully fleshed out.
And also, how about that fucking soundtrack? In addition to the beautiful score by Tyler Bates, the Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 soundtrack is amazing and gives the movie some serious oomph. You may not remember the Avengers theme, but you will remember Star Lord dancing around to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”.
James Gunn, the director, did a fantastic job picking the soundtrack for this movie. Hell, he did a great job all around in bringing this movie to fruition and deserves tons of praise. His twisted sense of humor, toned down for this film, struck the perfect chord and I can’t wait to see what he does with the next film.
Guardians of the Galaxy is, without a doubt, the best Marvel movie to come out yet. With it’s blend of character, action, and humor, it stands out amongst its peers as the high bar for Marvel films.
PS: Also, how hot are those pink Krylorian girls? Good lord.
I am Groot? I am Groot, I am Groot? I aaam Groot: