Guardians of the Galaxy–Great Summer Fun But No Winter Soldier

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Drax, Gamora, Star-Lord, and random Kree in Guardians of the Galaxy. Photo courtesy Disney/Marvel.

It was with great anticipation that I took my twins to a twilight showing of Guardians of the Galaxy on Friday. I’d heard amazing things about the movie, ranging from “best Marvel movie ever!” to “perfect movie,” to Jim MacQuarrie’s post on GeekDad that termed it “this generation’s Star Wars,” and Cindy White’s overwhelmingly positive review right here on GeekMom.

My daughter immediately bonded to Rocket, my son loved Groot, Drax had the best one-liners, the soundtrack was awesome, and Peter Quill’s character arc was great. I love that a woman, Nicole Perlman, wrote the original script that got the ball rolling on this movie.

We all had a great time. And yet…it didn’t rise to the level of great for me. Granted, I’m holding Guardians to the insane standard of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and those involved in the Marvel cinematic universe deserve all kinds of credit for setting such a high bar.

But still. I wanted more.

BEWARE: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Part of it was that the dialogue was a little too on-the-nose character-wise. Everyone basically said their character motivations out loud instead of the movie showing us them. That kept me from getting emotional invested in everyone besides Quill. For instance, he didn’t say “I keep this music because of my mom.” He didn’t need to. When Quill opened his mother’s present at the end, I had tears in my eyes. That was perfect.

Groot’s big “We are Groot!” moment is a good example of showing versus telling. Groot is basically capable of three words. The movie absolutely has to show his personality and his loyalty to the team because they can’t do it through his words. And that works tremendously, ending with that great twist on his usual statement.

Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t do as well with the others. Drax flat out says (paraphrasing) “hey, maybe this revenge thing isn’t the best,” instead of it being a subtler moment. Rocket spells out his motivations too, and there’s even one moment when Peter basically says “hey, I’m learning to be heroic.” That one was played for laughs, so I’ll give the movie that, but not if every character does it.

Gamora gets the worse of this treatment.

Part of it was that Gamora’s character was the least developed among the team and she was the only women among them, so her character being so thin stuck out. As I’ve said, I’m tired of crumbs and I want the whole cake. But part of it is because the movie uses her as a romantic interest to further Peter’s character, making her seem more of an appendage than the others. The others are very consistent. Gamora goes from bad-ass assassin to romantically interested in Peter so fast and I couldn’t understand why. (On the opposite side, Peter’s interest in crazy or dangerous women is nicely drawn.)

And, lastly, The Winter Soldier, while a great action movie, also featured character arcs for Steve, Black Widow, Fury, and even a hint of one for the Falcon and it delved into serious themes that resonated in the real world: secrecy of government, what freedom is worth, and why people should fight, and when they should choose peace. It asks questions that resonate for a long time.

Guardians doesn’t go that deep. Misfits band together, stumble their way into saving a world.

It’s really fun but not quite the great movie I hoped it would be.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.