Guardians Of the Galaxy (2014) annotations
Release date: 1st August 2014 (US)
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriters: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Open on titles that read ‘Earth 1988’.
Then we see a kid holding a vintage 80s Walkman. The Walkman is a 1979 Sony TPS-L2 Walkman, and the price for a vintage one saw a bump after the release of this film.
The tape is called Awesome Mix Vol. 1. This was used as the subtitle of the official soundtrack, which featured an image of the tape.
The first song we hear is I’m Not In Love by 10CC, from their album The Original Soundtrack (1975). It reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the US.
We see a young boy and who is holding the Walkman. He’s Peter Jason Quill, aged 8. He’s played by Wyatt Oleff. Let’s talk more about Peter when we meet him as an adult.
He’s in a hospital. It’s Hemel Hempstead Hospital at Hillfield Road, Hemel Hempstead, North London.
A man comes along. It’s his grandfather. He’s played by Gregg Henry.
He goes into the hospital room. His mother, Meredith, is sick. She’s played by Laura Haddock.
Meredith appeared in the comics, and played a similar role in Star-Lord’s origin.
Haddock has appeared in the MCU before in another role. In fact, she’s extremely rare in that she’s had two speaking roles in two Marvel films (as opposed to extras work, or working on a Netflix or ABC series). She appeared as an autograph hunter who meets Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
Is there any connection? There doesn’t seem to be – there’s a significant age difference between the characters – appearing in 1940 or so and 1988. Perhaps – and this is a big stretch – the autograph hunter is Meredith’s grandmother. However, it does leave a potentially nice moment when Star Lord eventually meets Captain America, he could say his great grandmother met him once, and got an autograph.
She mentions Peter’s father. In the comics it was a character called Prince Jason, but here it’s a mystery – for another film.
All the people in the room are credited with roles. Meredith’s mother – Janis Ahern. Meredith’s brother – Solomon Mousley. Meredith’s best friend – Lindsay Morton. Perhaps they had a longer scene that was cut.
And Meredith dies.
Peter runs out into a field.
A big awesome spaceship takes him away.
We hear some of the original score, composed by Tyler Bates. He’s worked twice with James Gunn before, and would return for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).
Then Marvel titles.
We see a planet. We are told it’s 26 years later (2014, the year of the film’s release), and the planet is Morag.
There’s no planet named Morag in the Marvel comics. There is a Kree named Morag, a former leader of that alien race.
The planet’s surface is CGI, created at Shepperton studios. It’s address is Studios Rd, Shepperton, south west of London.
And here’s Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt.
Let’s look at the slightly weird history of Star-Lord. He first appeared in 1979, in Marvel Preview #4 (Jan 1979), and very much a throwaway character (creator Steve Englehart talked about grander plans in the character that were never realised). He remained a sort of Marvel cosmic side character, until 2004.
In 2004, the character was introduced, and completely revamped. He is revealed to be a child of earth with an Alien father who was involved in an intergalactic war. His mother is killed by aliens, and a young Quill escapes into space and becomes a hero. He would later join the Guardians Of The Galaxy and be their leader. His mask is more of a helmet in the comics, and it looks rather stupid. The film’s version is far better.
The 2004 version was created by Keith Giffen and Ron Lim. He first appeared in Thanos #8 (June 2004).
At this point, Pratt was best known for his role in TV comedy Parks And Recreation, where he was a charming schlub. But as he made his way into films, he managed to score leads in several huge films – The Lego Movie, Jurassic World and this. It propelled him into superstardom. Pratt told Screenrant:
I like the arc of the character, it’s a very human arc. It’s really based on who he was and what was taken from him as a kid and something that he missed and lacks that he has to gain through the course of the movie. That’s definitely what we’re focusing on.
Lots of people went for the role of Peter Quill, and lots of names were leaked as being in the running. It looks like Marvel looked at every male white emerging leading man action hero type, including Joel Edgerton, Eddie Redmayne, Jensen Ackles, Lee Pace, Wes Bentley, Jack Huston, Cam Gigandet, Sullivan Stapleton, Logan Marshall-Green, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Lowell, James Marsden, Jim Sturgess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aaron Paul, Michael Rosenbaum, Glenn Howerton, and John Krasinski. Pace would play Ronan in this film.
Quill uses his weird torch to find a cave.
He puts on his Walkman, and plays a song. It’s Come And Get Your Love by Redbone. It was released in 1973, from their album Wovoka. It peaked at #5 in the US charts.
Gunn had considered using Hooked On A Feeling here.
And he finds the Orb. We’ll talk more about what it is, when we find out what it is.
Two more spacecraft land. Out comes Korath. He’s played by Djimon Hounsou.
Korath appears in the comics, an agent of the Kree Empire called Korath The Pursuer. He was a bit more of a mad scientist in the comics, and wore a similar garb to Ronan The Accuser. Here he is a Kree but more of just extra muscle. If only he had his Jack Kirby inspired look from the comics.
He first appeared in Quasar #32 (March 1992). He was created by Mark Greenwald and Greg Capullo.
Hounsou broke out with his acclaimed roles in Amistad (1997) and Gladiator (2000). He was actually eyed to play the Black Panther in the 00s Fantastic Four film series and some Marvel Animation. Hounsou wanted to help push diversity in the MCU. He told Collider:
The lack of diversity, specifically in genre films and the superheroes our kids grow up watching and emulating, they can’t really identify with. When you see the same thing, over and over again, and it seems not to speak of you and your heritage and your culture, it leaves you out of this world, a little bit. It gives a certain social distance with your world. So, it was very shocking when my son said that. It shocked me, but at the same time, it was not a surprise. It’s one of those things that even I have been looking for. I’m looking for a hero of my kind, and I’m looking for a shero of my kind. Now, we have Zoe Saldana, who is a shero for minorities, and that’s kind of nice.
Quill extracts the Orb, but is interrupted by Korath.
Quill calls one of Korath‘s henchmen a Ninja Turtle. It is, of course, a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Starting as an edgy indie comic, it became a worldwide phenomenon on the back of the cartoon series, which debuted at the end of 1987.
Quill, I mean Star-Lord, fights it out with Korath and the Kree.
Quill’s wonderful ship. The design was created for the film. It’s called the Milano, after 80s actress Alyssa Milano.
A big wave hits the ship. We can see a moment that a Troll Doll goes flying by. Troll Dolls were invented back in 1959 and were a craze in the 60s. They continued to be popular through the 80s as Peter left earth, and today.
Peter manages to escape.
On the ship is Bereet. She is played by Melia Kreiling.
Bereet comes from the comics. She is an artist from Krylor, and had dealings with the Hulk. In the film she remains a Krylorian, although in the MCU, they have pink skin.
Kreiling is a Swiss model and actress.
Note she is wearing the T-Shirt Peter had when he left Earth.
Then we hear Go All The Way by the Raspberries. It’s the biggest hit by the band, taken from their debut album Raspberries, released 10th April 1972. Americans who loved British Invasion, their singer Eric Carmen would score major hits as a solo artist.
We hear over the, er, radio?, we hear news on the Kree, Xandar and Nova Prime. We will talk about all of them as we meet them, but they are all important references.
He gets a call from Yondu. He’s played by Michael Rooker.
Yondu is from the comics. He’s from Centauri IV, and the last of his race. A warrior, he was a founding member of the original Guardians Of the Galaxy – from the future. In the comics he is blue with a very distinctive red fin on his forehead. He also shot arrows in a conventional manner – with a bow. A new Yondu is now in the comics, based of the character from this film, who is tied to Peter Quill. For a film with a lot of weirdness, they took away Yondu’s fin, but it looks like it will be used in future films.
He first appeared, along with the original Guardians Of The Galaxy, in Marvel Heroes #18 (January 1969). He was created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan.
Rooker has played lots of tough character roles, in films like Cliffhanger (1993) and the TV series The Walking Dead. He is also one of James Gunn‘s regular players. Rooker told Collider:
I knew [James Gunn] was writing something for me, but he didn’t say what. And then, all of a sudden, it just started happening. At first, I couldn’t do Guardians of the Galaxy because I was on The Walking Dead. Literally, three-quarters of the way through The Walking Dead, I found out that I was gonna be part of the dead. So right away, I was like, “Hey, man, what’s up? Are we still on for this?” I ended up being a very fortunate, very lucky actor.
What’s the original Guardians Of the Galaxy? The Guardians name was first used in 1969 for a team of heroes set in the future, with none of the characters in the Guardians team here. Although they interacted with heroes in our time, especially in large cosmic crises. The team that formed in 2008 has very loose ties to the 60s team, are set in our time but are also cosmic misfits.
Rooker refers to Terra and Terrans. He basically means Earth and Earthlings. It’s Latin.
Yondu and his team of Ravagers are on Morag. They were created for the film, and later introduced into the comics.
He grabs one of his team by the sleeve. This Kraglin Obfonteri, played by Sean Gunn.
There is an alien called Kraglin in the comics that bears no resemblance whatsoever to this character.
Gunn is perhaps best known for his role in Gilmore Girls. He was also the human performer for Rocket Racoon. He’s the brother of James Gunn.
The other arguing Ravager is named Horuz. He’s played by Tom Proctor. Proctor has appeared in plenty of great TV shows from Westworld to Brooklyn Nine Nine to True Detective. He also appeared in films such as 12 Years A Slave.
Then in space, we see a ship called the Dark Aster. Its a Kree Warship. It was created for the film. Apparently it is bigger than 11 Empire State Buildings.
Ronan The Accuser emerges. He’s played by Lee Pace.
Ronan was one of the first Kree to ever appear in the comics. He’s a member of Kree royalty and a fearsome warrior. He’s fought most of the Marvel universe. The film retains his iconic headgear as well as his hammer weapon.
He first appeared in Fantastic Four #65 (August 1967). They were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Pace is one of the most mercurial actors around. He can play the sweet charming man on network TV with shows like Pushing Daisies and turn into an authoritative elf in The Hobbit series and whatever else in between.
Let’s talk Kree. They are one of the most prominent alien races in Marvel comics. The Kree have produced both heroes and villains that have clashed with Earth’s mightiest. They are a warrior race, who span the Kree Empire. They play a big role in origins of Captain Marvel and the Inhumans, and have dozens of memorable storylines, usually with the while race going to war. Their skin is distinctively light blue (mostly).
They also first appeared in Fantastic Four #65 (August 1967). They were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
He’s captured someone. He’s played by Max Wrottesley. He appeared in films like Hugo (2011).
We will talk about the Nova Corps when we see more of them. But he says he is from Xandar, the home of the Nova Corps.
Behind him is Nebula. She’s played by Karen Gillan.
Nebula is from the comics, the grand daughter of Thanos and a major player in the Infinity War saga. She has mostly been a villain, with blue skin and quite a full head of hair actually. She has been changed to being a daughter in the film.
She first appeared in Avengers #257 (July 1985). She was created by Roger Stern and John Buscema.
Gillan is best known for her wonderful role as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. This was her first bog role after that breakout performance.
Korath gives his report.
Watching on is Gamora. She’s played by Zoe Saldana.
Gamora is another important part of the Marvel cosmic universe. She’s from an alternate dimension future, the last member of a race that refused to bow to a powerful religion. As a child she was saved by Thanos, but found herself battling him various times, including in the Infinity Gauntlet series. She did join the Guardians Of The Galaxy much later. A lot of the complicated stuff about religion and future timeline seems to be eliminated from her story.
She first appeared in Strange Tales #180 (June 1975). She was created by Jim Starlin.
Saldana had already scored several high profile action roles in films like Avatar (2009) and the rebooted Star Trek series.
Other actresses in the running for the role included Olivia Wilde, Rosario Dawson, Kristanna Loken, Moon Bloodgood, Gina Carano, Rachel Nichols and Adrianne Palicki. Palicki would appear in Agents Of SHIELD.
A deleted scene here showed more of the rivalry between Gamora and Nebula.
And we go to Xandar. It’s a CGI creation. Marvel didn’t make a planet.
Someone is dissing the locals.
The ladies man is Stan Lee in his Stan Lee cameo.
We see the speaker. It’s Rocket Racoon. His motion capture was performed by Sean Gunn. He is voiced by Bradley Cooper.
Rocket Racoon has a bit of a convoluted origin. It involves a faraway planet, where animals were genetically altered to be carers, and ended up taking to space and meeting The Hulk. What he really was was one of those Marvel 70s ideas (like Howard The Duck) that probably just looked interesting on a comic cover in a newsstand. Even the name, a play on the Beatles song Rocky Racoon, was designed to ring familiarity. He was pretty much pulled from obscurity when he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in the late 00s.
He first appeared in Marvel Preview #7 (June 1976), but the modern version really first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #271 (May 1982). He was created by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema and Keith Giffen.
Bradley Cooper is an award winning star of many films – Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook, The Place Beyond The Pines and more.
With him is Groot. His motion capture was performed by Kristian Godlewski. Additional motion capture and his voice was supplied by Vin Diesel.
Groot, pretty much as he stands, first appeared as a one dimensional monster and a villain. He was a tree, and he could only say ‘I Am Groot’. He’s really just an alien, and only had a handful of appearances in the comics. He was essentially reinvented (as a hero) for the late 00s Guardians Of the Galaxy.
He first appeared in Tales To Astonish #13 (November 1960). He was created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers.
Godlewski has very few screen credits to his name.
Vin Diesel has had quite a few screen credits. He’s an action blockbuster star with credits leading XXX, Riddick and the Fast And The Furious films.
They’ve found a target – Quill.
Quill looks to offload the orb. He goes to see the Broker, played by Christopher Fairbank. Fairbank is a British character actor with hundreds of roles and many you’ve seen, from Tim Burton’s Batman and The Fifth Element.
Broker backs out and Quill encounters Gamora. They fight.
And then Rocket and Groot also fight.
They are captured by the Nova Corps. The arresting Nova Corp is played by Sharif Atkins. He’s best known for long running roles in ER and White Collar.
Who are the Nova Corps? It all started with hero called Nova. He was a high school kid named Richard Rider, and he was chosen to be the last of an intergalactic space force known as the Nova Corps (because it was the 70s and this happened a lot). He really took a star turn when he joined the New Warriors in the 90s and the history and mythology around the corps was greatly expanded.We don’t see Rider is this film.
They have the ability to fly, are pretty strong and impervious to basic harm. And one of the best costumes ever. We don’t see Rider is this film. Xandar has three suns. The symbols on the Nova Corp’s chests are a nod to that. The comic version of Nova also has three suns on his chest.
The Nova Corps first appeared in Fantastic Four #205 (April 1979). They were created by Marv Wolfman and John Buscema. (Nova himself appeared earlier in 1976 – he was also created by Wolfman and Buscema).
The one who recognises Quill is Rhomann Dey. He’s played by John C Reilly.
Rhomann Dey is very different from the comics. In the comics, he’s was apparently the last of the Nova Corps, and the one who chooses Richard Rider to take over the Nova mantle, beginning his long adventure. He’s character is one of a leader and a very straight up good guy. Here, he’s but a mid ranking every man of the Nova Corps.
He first appeared in Nova #1 (September 1976). He was also created by Marv Wolfman and John Buscema.
Reilly is, simply put, the best. From memorable small roles on PT Anderson films, to headlining major comedies like Step Brothers, he’s a force to be reckoned with. We love his music too. He was brilliant in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
We then go to the Nova Corps HQ. And we see Nova Prime. She’s played by Glenn Close.
Although there have been other heads of the Nova Corps, this version was created for the film.
Close is a legend. She hot fame in the 80s with a run of films that included The Big Chill and Fatal Attraction, going on to star in films as diverse as 101 Dalmations to Albert Nobbs.
The Kree Ambassador. He’s played by Tomas Arana. He’s appeared in films such as The Bourne Supremacy and Limitless.
With Nova Prime are two other members of the Nova Corp. The tall man in Denarian Saal. He’s played by Peter Serafinowicz.
He could be the loose MCU version of Garthan Saal. In the comics, Saal was an evil Nova Corps member who took the name Super Nova. He has a very different fate here.
Serafinowicz has long been one of the best actors in British comedy. From his own show to his work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (such as Shaun Of the Dead) to just his random impersonations (he does a brilliant McCartney). He also starred as Darth Maul’s voice in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
With him is another Nova agent. She’s played by Mikaela Hoover. She worked with James Gunn before, on the film Super.
These screening with the characters, with their rap sheets.
Gamora is listed as the last of the Zehoberei people. Its a nod to her comics origin where she was part of a race known as the Zen-Whoberis.
Rocket is listed as from Halfworld, same as the comics. His two associates are Groot and Lylla. Lylla is from the comics, comes from Rocket’s homeworld. She’s also an otter.
Quill’s rapsheet says he has a translater in his neck. Explains a lot.
Lots if this scene was used in the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. However, it included Drax, with Dey saying all five were picked up on Xandar, and that they were already called the ‘Guardians Of the Galaxy’. We can only assume this was a reshoot to give a stronger introduction, and they decided to include Drax and the blatant Guardians line because they knew marketing could use it.
There’s also a deleted moment here, featuring a bit of comedy between Dey and Saal.
The off to the Kyln. Its also an intergalactic prison on the comics. It has completely been redesigned for the film.
Quill makes a couple of references to film MacGuffins. Shiny blue suitcase is a reference to Kiss Me Deadly (1955). Ark of the covenant was the MacGuffin in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. The Maltese Falcon was in, well, The Maltese Falcon.
The humour and irreverence of this film is great, but this line definitely stuck out as one for the audience, and would make no sense in the scene. He might as well be saying he is Groot.
Escorting everyone is a prison guard played by Emmet J Scanlon.
Playing with Quill’s Walkman is a guard played by Dominic Grant.
He’s listening to Hooked On A Feeling by Blue Swede, released in 1973. The original performed by BJ Thomas in 1968. Swedish band Blue Swede scored a hit with it in 1974, and named the album after it. It peaked at number 1 in the US. It was put to great use in that first trailer.
They fight, leading to a montage.
Walking through the prison, Quill is confronted by a big blue guy. He’s a CGI creation voiced by Nathan Fillion. He has worked with Gunn many times, as well as starting in many films by James Gunn, he probably best known for TV work on Firefly and Castle.
There was an alternate introduction to this big prison yard.
And watching as Gamora enters her cell is Drax. He’s played by Dave Bautista.
Drax is another major player in the cosmic Marvel universe. He was initially a human named Arthur Douglas, who was turned into a powerful creature to destroy Thanos. Here, and in the comics, the killing of his family is his motivation. Over the years he played roles in various Infinity Gem stories. He was significantly powered down for the film, although he remains hilariously dim witted at times. He also keeps his name The Destroyer.
He first appeared in Iron Man #55 (February 1973). He was created by Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich.
Bautista is a professional wrestler. Guardians was one of his first film credits, which he would follow up with Spectre and more.
As Gamora is attacked, Drax talks about his family – his wife Hovat and his daughter Kamaria. The film, leaving behind Drax’s human origin, has created new names for his family.
The main thug with Drax is named Moloka Dar. He’s played by Alexis Rodney. Rodney has appeared in films like Wild Target and Kick Ass 2.
Dar is a very minor character from the comics, appearing briefly in a Thanos storyline in Thanos’ own series in 2004. He was also a minor crook at the Kyln.
Quill goes through his scars. He mentions Rajack, a planet from the comics.
He also mentions the A’askvarii, an alien race from the comics who indeed have tentacle arms with suctions.
Gamora, Quill, Rocket and Groot make plans to escape.
Back with Ronan, the creature called The Other tells him he’s been betrayed. He’s voiced by Alexis Denisof.
This is Denisof’s 2nd time voicing this role. He last appeared in The Avengers (2012).
Then off to Sanctuary, the domain of Thanos. In the comics, Thanos has a ship called Sanctuary. In the films, it seems it is now a place.
After an argument, Ronan kills The Other.
Thanos revealed. He’s played by Josh Brolin.
He is the mad Titan, and one of the very big bads in the Marvel universe. It remains to be seen how Marvel plays him in the films, but in the comics he really came to prominence in the Infinity Gauntlet comics series. He is obsessed with death and killing off half the universe. He’s strong, he’s smart, and wait til he gets his hands on a few gems.
Brolin came to huge fame with his role in No Country For Old Men, with many more acclaimed credits to follow. He is actually uncredited in this film.
Plenty of people have made fun of Thanos’ throne. He actually has a ship that looks a lot like it in the comics.
Nebula and Ronan head off.
Back at the Kyln, Rocket and gang begin to improvise.
The guard in the tower. He’s played by Enzo Cilenti. He’s appeared in films like The Martian, Theory Of Everything and much more.
The fight begins. Then Drax joins in.
Quill talks to the one legged prisoner. He’s played by Richard Katz.
Gamora fights the guards. The whose arm she breaks is played by Enoch Frost.
Quill faces his own guard, played by Ronan Summers.
The gang make their daring escape.
Something’s missing in Quill’s case. He goes to look for it.
On the Milano, Gamora realises she doesn’t have the orb.
Music becomes Escape, more popularly known as The Piña Colada Song, by Rupert Holmes. It’s from his 1979 album Partners In Crime. Another number 1 US single. It only got up to 23 in the UK.
Quill gets his walkman back.
He gets back on the Milano and sets off. They discuss the orb a bit.
The Jackson Pollack line. It was improvised by Pratt. It’s reference to Quill’s masturbation leaving stains like Jackson Pollack’s painting style.
Ronan and Nebula kill a couple of Nova Corps to get information.
Yondu and Kraglin pay a visit to the Broker. Yondu’s arrow works on whistling. This is new and not from the comics.
Then we see a museum. Working there is Carina, played by Ophelia Lovibond.
Carina has been changed significantly from the comics, where she was the daughter of The Collector. Here, she is a pink skinned Krylorian. We saw another member of her race earlier with Quill.
This is Lovibond’s 2nd appearance in the MCU, having last appeared in Thor: The Dark World (2013).
She is standing in front of a captured Dark Elf. Traditionally enemies of Thor in the comics, we last saw this race in the MCU in Thor: The Dark World (2013).
Back on the Milano, we hear Moonage Daydream by David Bowie. It’s the first single taken from The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). It was never released as a single.
They arrive at Knowhere. It was later introduced in the comics. What is from the comics is the Celestials, an ancient race of powerful giants.
Quill mentions several other Earth outlaws. Billy the Kid, an old west outlaw. Bonnie And Clyde, a romantic couple and bank robbers. John Stamos is best known for his role in Full House, where he played the most rebellious of the three father figures.
Drax, Groot and Rocket goes to watch some alien pets fight.
Peter and Gamora share their moment together.
Gamora talks about her origin. It is significantly different from the comics.
Peter talks about Footloose, the seminal 1984 dance film. He also mentions the star Kevin Bacon.
The music that has been playing is Fooled Around And Fell In Love by Elvin Bishop. It first appeared on his 1975 album Struttin’ My Stuff. It peaked at #3 in the US charts.
Drax, Groot and Rocket get into a fight.
A deleted scene has Drax explaining his tattoos.
Carina appears, to summon the team.
And back at this museum. Let’s breakdown what we see.
The dog is Cosmo the Spacedog. He’s a telepathic Soviet dog, part of the 60s space program. He would join the Guardians and be the security chief of Knowhere.
He first appeared in Nova vol.4 #8 (Jan 2008) and was created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Across from Cosmo is a Chitauri. A race that exists in the comics, we last saw one of them in The Avengers (2012).
Then The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro.
The Collector is one of the mainstays of the Marvel universe. He is one of the oldest beings in the universe, tasked with collecting one of each specie. He has faced off against The Avengers many times, and has tried to add several of them to his collection. He is extremely powerful, and we are yet to see that power in the MCU.
He was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck. He first appeared in Avengers #28 (May 1966).
Del Toro first broke through in The Usual Suspects (1995), following it with acclaimed performances in indie films like Basquiat (1996), Traffic (2000) and more.
The camera swings around as Carina is about to introduce her boss. It swings pass the giant cocoon. We saw it much better in Thor: The Dark World (2013). Many speculated this was a reference to Adam Warlock, the hero of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. He has often been rumoured to join the MCU, but the events of Guardians Of the Galaxy Volume 2 debunked this. Gunn later said it was an early pod of the Sovereign race, but it’s a retcon.
As the boss turns around, to the right of the screen is a box holding someone in a red cape. Fans speculate this could be Beta Ray Bill. He is an alien (a Korbinite) that was also worthy of wielding Thor‘s hammer and actually took over for a while. We are only going off the cape so who knows.
We pan out and we see the Dark Elf again looking down at the Collector.
They present the Orb to The Collector.
Drax, drunk, attacks a comms officer. He is played by Stephen Blackehart.
The Collector explains the origins of the Infinity Stone. Like in the comics, it’s just space babble and they just kind of…are. They were used by Elders, and Thanos managed to defeat each one to get them. That story was told in the comic Thanos Quest, first published in September 1990.
As he explains, we see briefly see Groot looking at the screens. He sees the Tesseract, which played such a big part of the MCU’s Phase 1 – confirming it is an Infinity Stone. We last saw it in The Avengers (2012).
Left of the Tesseract screen in the Aether. It is the reality Infinity Stone. We last saw it in Thor The Dark World (2013).
The Collector shows the Guardians a Celestial. This is a great fan moment. Celestials are elders of the universe, of towering height and towering power. Usually mysterious, when they come out of the corner it’s usually really bad news for our comic heroes. They are so weird that it is a genuine surprise to see them in the MCU films. Remember that Knowhere is the dead skull of a Celestial.
That wonderful design is very faithful to Jack Kirby‘s original design. They were created by Kirby and first appeared in Eternals #1 (July 1976).
We see that Celestial kill a bunch of folks. Purple energy suggests it is with the Power Gem.
Carina grabs the gem, and is killed. She takes out The Collector‘s museum and presumably kills many of the captured creatures too.
Outside, the gang argue about what to do with the Stone.
Then Kree ships arrive. We will later learn they are called Necrocraft.
Drax called them. The ships look great and are an original design for the film.
Yondu and the Ravagers are also there.
Ronan, Nebula and the Kree show themselves.
Gamora grabs a ship. As does Rocket and Chris Pratt.
Drax fights Ronan. Compared to the comics, Drax here is very much powered down.
Nebula chases and tries to shoot down Gamora.
Nice hero shot of Rocket smashing through a Kree ship.
Gamora heads out into space.
Nebula refers to Gamora as the sibling she hated the least. Who are Nebula and Gamora’s siblings? This is a mystery – as in the comics, these two are not really related. Neither character has any siblings in the comics canon either. Throwaway line, or a hint of something bigger?
Gamora is shot down and floats in space. Nebula grabs the Orb.
Drax is defeated.
Now, this scene where Quill saves Gamora. Rocket mentions her body ‘mods’ will in some way keep her alive. Quill then heads out and saves her and gives her his mask.
We can’t help it, but the logic of this scene busts our minds, and at the very least takes us out of the film. OK – so we don’t know how the atmosphere around Knowhere works. But it is thin enough to have no gravity, and for them to freeze. It is just weird.
Groot saves Drax.
Groot wants to save Quill and Gamora from the Ravagers.
Ronan communicates with Thanos, telling him he has the Orb. Then he takes the Orb for himself.
Yondu beats up Quill in front of the Ravagers. He then lets Quill go.
Then the group sit around and discuss the plan. It’s a whole lot of exposition. And it’s done pretty well.
After they all stand up, the music changes. It’s Cherry Bomb by The Runaways. It was first released on their debut album The Runaways in 1976, and their most famous song. It was an underground hit on release and did not chart.
Over the song, they lay out their plan and get dressed. It’s all a bit convoluted.
We see Rhomann Dey, watering his plants.
The one eyed Ravager is played by Bruce Mackinnon.
Then the hero slow motion walk.
Yondu has a bunch of cat figurines. They don’t appear to be based on anything specific.
And everyone goes to Xandar.
The Nova Corps rally. We see the helmets of some of the corps, which resembles the classic Nova helmet to some degree.
John C Reilly is just fantastic.
The Ravagers attack the Kree. The Kree fight back.
Yondu is taken out of the fight. And the Nova Corps arrive.
The ship designs, when fully unfolded, match the Nova Corps logo, both from the comics and the film (and looks great). It’s worth noting that in the comics, the Nova Corps don’t have ships.
When the Kree ship starts to land, the Nova Corps make a big sacrifice.
The Guardians enter the Kree ship.
Groot creates tiny bursts of light. This power is new for the film, and not one he shares with the comic.
Nebula intercepts the Guardians.
We see Yondu on the field, surrounded by soldiers. These creatures are Sakaarans from the planet Sakaar. Sakaar is the planet from the acclaimed Planet Hulk storyline. The Hulk crashed there and slowly took over the place. We are set to see more of Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), where it will probably tie closer to the comics.
Yondu kills them all anyways.
Gunn had apparently wanted the comic book alien race the Badoon, but Marvel didn’t hold the rights. They first appeared in the Silver Surfer comic, so it probably means they fall into the Fantastic Four world, and is owned by Fox.
They land on Xandar. This is no longer a studio, but the crash site is on Tilsey Farm. It’s on Horsham Road, Bramley, new Guilford.
Yondu kills them all anyways.Nebula rebuilds herself. And she fights Gamora. The Kree attack the people on Xandar.
The scene on the bridge is possibly a real set with a different sky – the Millennium Bridge in the heart of London.
On the bridge are a Krylorian mother and daughter. They are played by Rachel Cullen (mother) and the daughter’s role was split between twins Isabella and Imogen Poyton.
The Guardians fight Korath and other Kree. The Ravagers shoot down the Necrocraft.
Drax kills Korath. Groot also kills a lot of dudes.
Ronan uses the Infinity Stone.
Garthan Saal and a lot of other Nova Corps are killed.
The Guardians enter and shoot Ronan with a thing. It does nothing.
Rocket crashes the party.
Groot creates a shell to protect his friends. No, YOU’RE crying.
And they crash.
Groot is killed. OR IS HE?
We hear some music as we see the aftermath of the crash. It’s O-O-H Child, by The Five Stairsteps. Released on their 1970 album Stairsteps. It got to number 8 in the US charts.
Ronan has survived. He calls them Guardians Of the Galaxy. Pretty awkward title drop.
Quill then distracts Ronan with some dancing.
Drax shoots Ronan’s weapon, dislodging the stone.
Quill manages to grab it. Apparently sacrificing himself.
He sees his mum. No YOU’RE still crying.
Gamora, Drax and Rocket all help to diffuse that Infinity energy. Or something.
Really clunky title drop again.
We assume Ronan is killed.
Quill hands an orb over to Yondu. Quill has switched orbs. Of course.
Yondu and Kraglin make mention of Quill’s dad. Something for the sequel.
Rocket takes a piece of Groot. He gets patted by Drax.
Nova reveals to Quill that he’s only half human. Again, see the sequel.
Dey has gotten a promotion.
The Nova Corps have recreated the Milano.
Inside the Milano, Quill finally opens his present. It is his mum who calls him Star-Lord. And a tape.
No YOU’RE still, still crying.
The song we hear is Ain’t No Mountain High Enough performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It was taken from their album United, released in 1976. It was a top twenty hit, and later artists like Diana Ross would have more success with it.
Yondu finds the Troll doll. He smiles.
The Nova Corps protect the infinity stone.
Dey goes home. And we see his family were the Krylorians that rocket saved earlier.
And then our heroes on the Milano. Groot wakes up.
As they set off, the music is I Want You Back by the Jackson Five. Released in 1969, it was a number 1 hit in the US. It’s taken from the album Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5. You may have heard of their lead singer, Michael.
Then the text, telling us The Guardians will return.
We then go straight into this kind of Mid credits scene
Drax on the Milano. Behind him, Groot, or as he will come to be known, Baby Groot.
He starts dancing. The dancing was motion capture of director James Gunn.
Post credits scene.
The Collector is in the remains of his museum.
Cosmo comes up to comfort him.
And we see Howard The Duck. He’s voiced by Seth Green.
Howard The Duck is one of the more curious creations in the Marvel universe. He was a duck who could walk and talk, and like Rocket Racoon, probably just looked great on a newsstand. But the comics were pretty good, and it really felt more like an indie comic set in the Marvel universe. Howard really shot to fame with a film in 1986, that has become a cult classic. His journey would continue into Leonard The Duck, one of the greatest, most bizarre episodes in all of comic book history. Go google it.
And a bit of a shout out to Howard The Duck creators Steve Gerber and Val Mayerick. Which is great. He first appeared, unnamed, in Adventure into Fear #19 (December 1973), but became a character the next month in Man-Thing #1 (January 1974).
Seth Green is best known for his work in the Austin Powers films and Buffy The Vampire Slayer and being one of the heads of Adult Swim.
There was a lot of talk when this came out that this was the big risk for Marvel. But really, it was such a confident, crowd pleasing work full of such charming characters and wonderful action, I’d be surprised if anyone at Marvel was truly worried. In fact, this served as somewhat of a palette cleanser – no decades of reverence, no fanboy expectations. This was just a big old romp.
All credit must go to James Gunn. Marvel has worked with talented directors before (Branagh, Whedon), but Gunn brought his madcap style to the table, as well as much of his regular actors. Like in the comics, when you hire a new creative team, you let them be a new creative team. Gunn was brought on and rewrote an existing script from page one. This is his film.
Gunn also manages to sell us on the oddball aspects. It’s not just the racoon and the tree, but this intergalactic council, the variety of aliens, weapons, and the dead Celestial head. He may not have come up with this himself – all these films benefit from the imaginations of Marvel comic book artists and writers of the past – but he sells them to us, and we don’t ask that many questions.
On rewatch, some of the cracks do show. Chris Pratt is so charming that he sells a character that honestly has little to do. The pain and complexity of the characters are only hinted at – and the cast elevates it. That’s true of the team, but not true of the villains. Ronan, Nebula and the Kree are about as badly formed baddies as any superhero film. And it’s still an origin film, and still a lot of set up.
It may be feint praise to call this film style over substance, but what it really means is we’d much rather have characters we love than anything else. Audiences will put up with a paper bad guy and some generic plot machinations if we can escape to some far away galaxy and go to on a fun adventure.
- The cast. So much charm.
- The Nova Corps. So much charm
- The soundtrack. Epic
- That dead celestial skull. That live celestial footage
- We are Groot
Not best bits
- Star Lord saving Gamora in space.
- A generic origin story at heart
- CGI fights CGI