Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel Goes Cosmic
– a Hero Corner Catch-up Review by David 2

At the end of “Thor: The Dark World”, Lady Sif and Volstagg of Asgard pay a visit to “The Collector” to give him the Aether.  They mention that they have The Tesseract on Asgard, which was the cosmic McGuffin of “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “The Avengers”, and it was “unwise” to have two “infinity stones” in the same place.  So we know of two “infinity stones”.

Now it’s time to find the third.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” was released in 2014 and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, John C. Riley, Glenn Close, Josh Brolin, and a returning Benicio del Toro, along with the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.  Stan Lee also has his required quick cameo.

Unlike other Marvel movies, this one takes place in space.  It starts on Earth in 1988, with a young boy named Peter Quill having to watch his mother die from cancer.  She asks him to take her hand, but he is afraid and she dies before he could.  He runs away into the night only to be picked up by a hovering spaceship.

Fast-forward to the present, and that young boy Peter (Pratt) is now grown up and he’s looking for a strange artifact.  He’s a Ravager, which means he does stuff for money.  And he has his own ship, the Milano (as in the actress Alyssa Milano).  Oh, and he wants people to call him Star-Lord.  He’s out searching for a certain orb, but soon discovers there are plenty of other people that are looking for it as well… and they don’t want to call him Star-Lord.  One of them is Ronin the Accuser (Pace), a Kree extremist who refuses to recognize the new peace treaty with the citizens of Xandar.  He’s looking for the orb to give to Thanos (Brolin), the cosmic tyrant, so Thanos will reward him by destroying Xandar.

When Quill’s buyer on Xandar hears that Thanos is also looking for the orb, he cancels the deal and kicks Quill out.  This brings him in contact with Gamora (Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos, who was sent by Ronin to retrieve the orb.  They have a quick tussle over the orb, and are then joined in by bounty hunter Rocket (CGI and voice of Cooper) and his simple tree-partner Groot (CGI and voice of Diesel).  Rocket and Groot are there to collect the bounty placed on Quill’s head by the other Ravagers for getting the orb without them.  However all four of them are arrested by Xandar law enforcement and soon sent to the toughest of prisons.

Gamora is an easy target for the other inmates because of her violent past, but she’s spared from their retribution by Quill and by a fifth member of the group, Drax the Destroyer (Bautista).  Drax wants Gamora to take him to Ronin so he can get revenge.  Quill gets Gamora to give up who the real buyer of the orb is, and Rocket comes up with a way for them to break out of prison so they can get their things, get to the Milano, and cash in on the orb.

That brings us to “The Collector” (del Toro), whom you briefly saw in the after-credits scene of “Thor – The Dark World”.  The Collector will pay any price for the orb, which we learn is actually one of six infinity stones.  (Odin hinted at this in “The Dark World”.)  Once they see the destructive power of this infinity stone, they realize that they need to keep it away from Ronin.  Unfortunately, a few people had their own agendas for the stone.  One tried to grab it and blew everything up.  And then Drax decided to bring Ronin to them, and he ends up with the stone.

Of course there is more, but I’ll leave it here for you to see it for yourself if you haven’t already.

This is, without a doubt, the best of Marvel’s “Phase Two”, and it is also the most unexpected one to have a tie-in with “The Avengers”.  The “Guardians of the Galaxy” actually became far more of a cohesive team than “The Avengers” were, not to mention the most unlikely of team-ups.  The characters were well-cast, which wasn’t difficult since two of the main characters were CGI creations, although it is hard to reconcile the live-action Gamora with her more daring (and busty) comic book original.  Live-action Drax, on the other hand, was a welcomed improvement.  Missing from this group was the original Nova Corps hero from Earth, Richard Rider, but I’m guessing having two Earth heroes would have been confusing.

The use of Earth nostalgia, especially music, helped make the characters relatable.  Although some of the bad references to past Earth pop culture were rather cringe-worthy, they were outweighed by the good ones.  Speaking of nostalgia… there is a certain duck that makes an after-credit appearance that surprised me.  And, no, I’m not talking Donald.

All-in-all, “Guardians of the Galaxy” brought “Phase Two” back on track.  Hopefully it will stay there.

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