Posts Tagged ‘Marvel’

 

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Intro and Outro music, “Left Hand Free” by alt-J

Sam chats with Kelly Thompson about reviving Jem and the Holograms for a modern audience and the emotional gut punch of Heart in a Box. Also, get the official shipper name for Kimber and Stormer!

kelly thompson

 

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Logo by Nicole Jekich @NJekich
Music: “Jem and the Holograms Theme” by Freezepop

 

Sam chats with artist Sara Talmadge and the two bond over their mutual love of Tangled and their mutual not-as-much-love for Frozen.

SaraTalmadge

 

Sara’s website: http://charapoo.storenvy.com/

Follow Sara @Charapoo

I don’t know if anyone noticed but there were a lot of big deal pieces of news that dropped recently from Marvel, DC Comics, and Comedy Central. While I definitely plan on elaborating on most of these topics with more in-depth pieces, I thought you all might enjoy my thoughts on a few key subjects.

 

Spider-Man Joins the MCU!!

Great day in the morning, people! Spider-Man is finally gonna get the Marvel Studios treatment as it was announced that Sony, who owns the film rights to the webslinger, and Marvel reached a deal that will put Spider-Man into the billion-dollar empire that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the clean break fans of Spidey were hoping for since Sony will still distribute any films involving the world of Spider-Man, but at the very least we know that producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal will have significantly more creative control over the character.

Spider-Man MCU

With the addition of Spider-Man to the MCU roster, Marvel has already begun the search for a new Peter Parker. Rumor has it that actors Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fury) and Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf, Maze Runner) are being considered for the role of Peter since Marvel wants to start fresh. So far, the plan seems to be introducing Peter into an upcoming movie in the MCU, most likely Captain America: Civil War, with a solo film to follow scheduled for release in 2017. While I can understand wanting to draw a clear separation between the MCU’s version of Peter versus how Sony has depicted him, it’s a bit of a shame that Andrew Garfield won’t be continuing the role. He and Emma Stone were the best parts of the Amazing Spider-Man movies.Spider-Man-Joins-Marvel-Cinematic-Universe

The announcement has produced plenty of excitement but also concern on the part of fans – not just of Spidey, but the MCU in general. With the addition of Spider-Man’s solo film, Marvel has pushed back the release dates for the Black Panther and Captain Marvel solo films that were originally due out in 2017 but are now coming out in 2018. It’s not a drastic change, but it does send a message. We’ve seen Peter Parker in five movies, so it’s not like audiences won’t know the character. What we haven’t seen, at all, is Black Panther or Captain Marvel on the big screen. Maybe it was part of the deal with Sony that Marvel had to put out a Spider-Man movie by a certain point, but it’s a bit disappointing that Spidey seems to come before other characters when Marvel has been doing just fine without him in the MCU so far.

There’s also the issue of Peter Parker being Spider-Man. It’s not surprising that when the deal between Sony and Marvel was announced that Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe, almost immediately became a trending topic on Twitter. One of the long-standing problems with the MCU has been diversity and adding Peter to the list of Marvel movies led by a yet another straight white guy has its drawback in terms of inclusion. Of course, with Marvel actually having a hand in shaping Peter hopefully it won’t be too long before Spider-Verse becomes a cinematic reality. If we could somehow get Miles or Spider-Gwen out of this, then I’ll be a happy camper.

 

All-Female Avengers!a-force-female-avengers.0

With Secret Wars promising to alter the comic book universe of Marvel by smushing the various realities together to make a cohesive Marvel Universe, one of the bigger sub-announcements of the event is the book A-Force. Starting this summer, co-writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett and artist Jorge Molina will bring all of the MU heroines together, along with a new hero named Singularity, to show exactly what happens when the women of Marvel get together to kick some ass!

Announced on The View because ABC and Marvel are both owned by Disney and anything involving female superheroes must have an outlet via a show with an all-female panel of hosts, G. Willow Wilson had this to say about the book:

We’ve purposefully assembled a team composed of very different characters — from disparate parts of the Marvel U, with very different power sets, identities and ideologies. They’ll all have to come together to answer some big questions: What would you sacrifice to succeed? What is being a hero worth? [Source: Mashable]

 

singularityThough the cover features just about every heroine of Marvel, the core group of A-Force, according to Wilson, will consist of She-Hulk, Dazzler, Singularity, Nico Minoru, and Medusa with appearances from Captain Marvel, Storm, Spider-Gwen, and Wasp all but inevitable. While this isn’t Marvel’s first book with an all women cast, it’s certainly the most anticipated. What has me so excited, based on the cover alone, is the presence of Jubilee and Rogue in their “classic” X-Men cartoon outfits. Hopefully this will be the return of mutant Jubilee because I’ve never been a fan of no powers, vampire Jubilee. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about…it’s a long story.

 

DC Announces Post-Convergence Lineup!

In an effort to focus on diversity (to some degree) and once again bring in new readers, DC Comics has announced the 24 new titles coming out in June after the Convergence summer event. Though Convergence is essentially a mini-crisis event that focuses on all eras of the DC Universe pre-New 52, the aftermath will see the company dropping the New 52 moniker in order to publish books less dependent on continuity in favor of emphasizing titles that are more “inclusive”, “accessible”, and “contemporary”. Said co-publisher Dan DiDio:

In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry. [Source: Newsarama]

dc-new-hed2-630x419

One could argue that DC hasn’t been all that focused on either continuity or storytelling, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one if only because it seems like they’re actually trying to make an effort. I still wish that de-emphasizing the New 52 meant abandoning that continuity entirely, but alas it shall remain. A girl can dream, right? Anyway, here’s the list of new titles and creative teams ready to grace our pull lists in June! I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the ones I’m interested in!

New Titles:

Batman Beyond
Written by Dan Jurgens, art by Bernard Chang

Black Canary
Written by Brenden Fletcher, art by Annie Wu and Irene Koh

Constantine: The Hellblazer
Written by Ming Doyle, art by Riley Rossmo

Cyborg
Written by David Walker, art by Ivan Reis

Dark Universe
Written by James Tynion IV, art by Ming Doyle

Green Lantern: Lost Army
Written by Cullen Bunn, art by Jesus Saiz & Javi Pina

Doomed
Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Javier Fernandez

Earth 2: Society
Written by Daniel Wilson, art by Jorge Jimenez

Dr. Fate
Written by Paul Levitz, art by Sonny Liew

Justice League of America
Written and drawn by Bryan Hitch

Justice League 3001
Written by Keith Giffen, art by Howard Porter

Martian Manhunter
Written by Rob Williams, art by Ben Oliver

Midnighter
Written by Steve Orlando, art by ACO

Mystic U
Written by Alisa Kwitney, artist to be revealed

Omega Men
Written by Tom King, art by Alec Morgan

Prez
Written by Mark Russell, art by Ben Caldwell

Red Hood/Arsenal
Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Denis Medri

Robin, Son of Batman
Written and drawn by Patrick Gleason

Starfire
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, art by Emanuela Lupacchino

We Are Robin
Written by Lee Bermejo, art by Khary Randolph

In addition, there will also be four six-issue mini-series

Bat-Mite
Written by Dan Jurgens, art by Corin Howell,

Bizarro
Written by Heath Corson, art by Gustavo Duarte

Harley Quinn/Power Girl
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, art by Stephane Roux

Section Eight
Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea

[Source: Nerdist]

What titles are you excited for?

 

And finally…

Jon Stewart to Leave The Daily Show Later This Year

Yeah, I’m definitely going to cover this more in-depth, but suffice it to say that The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart in particular, have meant the world to me since I was in college. Some of the most profound, hilarious, and poignant moments have come from The Daily Show and I will always have Jon to thank for that. Sixteen years is a good run, Jon, and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

And now, your Moment of Zen

Sam is joined by her friends Sean and Cara to talk with Phil LaMarr and boy does it get nerdy! Phil is the nerd’s nerd, the geek’s geek and the group get into animation, Star Wars, comic books, Lord of the Rings, and other topics!

Phil LaMarr

Website: http://www.phillamarr.com
Twitter: @phillamarr

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl
http://mrshowl.bandcamp.com/
http://www.reverbnation.com/mrshowl

8007cef6b23ae281bb2242c0f39f9123If you’ve been listening closely on a few of the more recent podcasts of That Girl with the Curls, you might have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about Storm. She’s one of my favorite X-Men and, if you haven’t listened to the episodes linked, her trading card back in the early to mid-nineties was one of my most prized possession. Whenever my mom took me and my sister to the local game shop – we didn’t exactly have a comic book store close by to my recollection – I always asked (or begged) for another pack of X-Men cards. I was in love with the 1992 cartoon and I was infatuated with Storm. More accurately, I wanted to be Storm. Not only did she have what I believed to be the best mutant powers ever, but as the cartoon progressed I became wrapped up in her story. Like many of the X-Men, and villains, featured in the cartoon, Storm was fleshed out as a character, showing a wide range of emotions fueled by her past and her present position as one of the most powerful mutants on the X-Men roster.

Goddess, thief, mutant, queen, leader, friend, lover, and hero; Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, was introduced, along with Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Thunderbird, and Banshee in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May, 1975) as part of a new diverse generation of mutants created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockram. When Chris Claremont took over writing for Uncanny X-Men from Wein, he established Storm’s backstory and continued to feature her as a prominent character for the next sixteen years. Since her first appearance, Storm has been in every iteration of the classic-x-men-inside-coverX-Men to date; cartoons/anime, movies, and video games have all utilized Storm not just as a powerful mutant but also as a valued team member and friend. However, in the nearly four decades she’s been part of the X-Men Universe, she’s never had a solo book until now and it’s already facing cancellation after only five issues.

Currently being written by Greg Pak with pencils by Victor Ibañez and colors by Ruth Redmond, Storm’s solo book has finally taken the Mistress of the Elements out from under the greater umbrella of the X-Men team to explore her as an individual on her own terms. Yes, she’s still as much involved with the team as ever but Pak uses her relationships, past and present, to key us into what makes Storm so significant and so different. In the five issues thus far, Pak has firmly established Storm as a defender of anyone in need who’s grown tired of working within systems (societal and political) that prevent her from helping others and doing what’s right. As she tells Wolverine, she doesn’t want to hold back anymore and Pak succeeds in making each issue function partially as a one-shot but tied together through the 1398611782000-Storm-1-Ibanez-Coveroverarching theme of Storm’s personal journey to make good on her statement. Much of that journey means going back to her roots in Africa, making her book significant on a cultural level. Africa is a hotbed of socio-economic and political conflicts, so putting Storm in the midst of these problems makes sense and gives her an added dimension of relevance.

But really it’s the diversity angle I want to stress here because it’s at the heart of the #SaveStorm campaign started not too long ago in an effort to keep the book afloat. In the wake of Marvel’s cancellation of Elektra and She-Hulk‘s solo books, the common denominator was low sales. As Brett White at Comic Book Resources pointed out:

According to the October sales charts, “She-Hulk” #9 sold 21,418 physical copies and “Elektra” #7 sold 15,021. You know what series sits between those two terminated ongoings? “Storm.” The fourth issue sold 19,862 copies, which, if “She-Hulk” and “Elektra’s” ultimate fates are to be used as proof, puts it in danger of being cancelled.

StormaProblematic to this entire situation is the way in which copies are being counted. The October sales chart only covers physical copies sold to retailers in North America. Sales from countries outside North America and digital sales aren’t factored into the charts, making the numbers unreliable in their representation of the actual market of readers. But if these are the numbers Marvel is using to justify cancellations, then we have to work within the same parameters.

Are the low sales the result of terrible marketing? Personally, I found out about the book when maybe one or two websites mentioned it, but I can’t recall any huge push from Marvel. Then again, a lot of the solo books have fallen by the wayside mostly due to event books taking precedence. It’s still surprising how little attention she’s received given that Storm is one of the most recognizable characters in the X-Men universe, if not Marvel as a whole. She was Marvel’s first major black female superhero and one would think they’d try to market the hell out of her solo book. Then again, there’s been a lot of speculation about how Marvel has been handling titles with characters they don’t have the rights to for their cinematic universe. Just sayin’.Storm_h622

Is it the readers? I doubt Marvel would give the greenlight on a solo book unless there was enough interest in the character to warrant hiring the talent and spending the money to bring the book to fruition. But, as stated previously, event books are the company’s bread and butter, and with the glut of comics coming out from Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Boom!, Archie, and other independent publishers, readers need to decide where to spend their money. This means they often purchase books they’ve always bought instead of opting for something new, especially if they’re working with limited funds.

Is it the character? Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean dollar signs and there could definitely be a bit of mental gymnastics going on in the minds of readers trying to justify not buying the book. Storm, as part of the X-Men, still appears in several titles and she’s a regular participant in the crossover events due to her affiliations with multiple teams. It’s easy to think, “Well, she’s in these other books, so I’m still going to have Storm but also all these other characters.” Then again, Wolverine’s been around for the same amount of time and he was (RIP Logan) in almost every book Marvel could stuff him into. Personally, I don’t think it’s a gender or race issue in terms of the lack of interest or cancellation, but it is important in terms of representation in comic books. Diversity is integral to the survival of the comic book industry, not just in the creative teams, but in the characters put front and center. Storm tumblr_mdcss8EKxX1qzgx3uo1_500is on par with Wonder Woman as a character who inspires others. Her strength, compassion, and wisdom, coupled with her very human flaws, make her relatable to readers of all ages, races, and genders. Featuring her as a major player and representative of the Marvel brand, however, gives validation not just to the character but to those who identify with her yet feel overlooked.

The question then becomes: Is that enough? Marvel is a company and numbers are what matter to companies. If a book isn’t selling, even if the higher-ups love it for all the right reasons, it will eventually boil down to numbers. So, for now, all we can do is support the hell out of Storm. Buy or order it from your local comic book store, buy it on Comixology, tweet about the book with the hashtag #SaveStorm, go on Tumblr, shove a copy of the book into the hands of your friends and families. Help Storm because she’d do her damnedest to help you.

Oh yeah, baby, it’s a good time to be a comic book movie fan! Only two weeks after Warner Bros. announced their DC Cinematic Universe through 2020, Marvel decided to roll out the entire Phase 3 of their cinematic universe during the “Marvel Event”. Hyperbole aside, this was definitely a showcase that genuinely surprised fans of the Marvel movies. Though we’ve already had several casting and movie rumors made, debunked, and confirmed, it’s fantastic to see that we can still be blown away by the scope, scale, and ambition of a universe that continues to expand.

So here’s what the timeline looks like:

Marvel timeline

 

 

But let’s break it down a little more since there are a few corrections to be made.

 

Captain America: Serpent Society Civil War – May 6, 2016Civil War

Yeah, that was a weird fakeout on the board. According to a few people I follow on Twitter the Serpent Society is an old-school Cap enemy, but I’m not sure why they bothered to do that unless in Kevin Feige’s way of being cheeky. Either way, Cap’s third solo film will be Civil War, based on the comic book event that pitted Cap against Iron Man over the registration of superhero secret identities with the US Government. As has also been pointed out, with the lack of mutants or Spider-Mans in need of hiding who they are, everyone in the MCU is already known to the world. Well, maybe not Hawkeye. Poor Hawkeye. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see where they take this since Winter Soldier ended on Cap and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, setting out to find Bucky.

 

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016Doctor Strange

While Benedict Cumberbatch was recently announced as Marvel’s choice to play Stephen Strange, his absence from the event so soon after his confirmation either means it’s not entirely set in stone, or the actor wasn’t available to show up at the event. As far as I can tell from various articles, Cumberbatch is their choice and the “final negotiations” are being hammered out. Take that for what you will. As far as characters go, Doctor Strange is the Marvel Universe’s neurosurgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme – protector of Earth against all forms of magic and sorcery. In light of the fact that the Thor films skirted the issue of magic as being interchangeable with science, it’ll be interesting to see how Doctor Strange is handled given there isn’t a lot of leeway to just say “ALIENS!”

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017Guardians 2

This was a no-brainer after the first movie did so well at the box office. Moved up only slightly from its original summer release in July, it looks like Guardians 2, which will again have James Gunn directing and writing along with co-writer Nicole Perlman, is going to kick off the summer movie season for Marvel instead of closing it out. And if all goes well, the film may pick up a new audience in the wake of the animated series slated for release in 2015.

 

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017Ragnarok

After the less than stellar sequel, it’s not surprising that Thor’s third solo film was moved to the closeout of the summer, but if the title delivers on what it promises, then there’s all the possibility in the world for the Thor franchise to bounce back. Ragnarok, for those not caught up on their Norse mythology, is the Nordic version of the Apocalypse only instead of absolute destruction, the result is the renewal of the Earth. First it’s all gods fighting each other, natural disasters, dog and cats living together, and the Earth submerged in water, but then it turns into sunshine and rainbows as the only two surviving humans repopulate the Earth. Good times! Or, more likely, this movie will be based on the comic book character Ragnarok who first appeared in Civil War – a cyborg clone created by Tony Stark when the real Thor went missing for a while. Either way, good stuff!

 

Black Panther – November 3, 2017chadwick-boseman-black-panther

And this is where things really got interesting. There had been plenty of hints that a Black Panther movie was coming, even from Stan Lee himself, but for the most part we could only piece certain things together from the Easter Eggs in the movies. Wakanda, the country from which T’Challa/Black Panther, hails from was briefly seen on a map in Iron Man 2, and the very presence of vibranium, the material that makes up Cap’s shield, tells us that Black Panther showing up was likely since it’s primarily mined in Wakanda. That and in the recently released Age of Ultron trailer, Andy Serkis briefly appears and has a very striking similarity to Ulysses Klaw, one of Black Panther’s rogues. And not only did Marvel announce the movie, they also brought out Chadwick Boseman in order to confirm that he’d be taking on the role of T’Challa. This will be the first superhero movie from Marvel featuring a person of color as the lead, but let’s hope that they get a devoted creative team to bring the King of Wakanda to the big screen.

 

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 – May 4, 2018Infinity Gauntlet

Anyone paying attention, regardless of their level of fandom for Marvel comics, knows that the build up to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline started all the way back in Thor, although it took Guardians of the Galaxy to actually explain it in a way that made sense (sorry Thor 2). So, yeah, this is a big story with a big villain primed and ready in Thanos, so I’m not surprised it’ll be split into two movies.

 

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018Captain_Marvel_Vol_8_1_Textless

Other than Black Panther, this is the film that made a whole heck of a lot of Marvel fans squeal in delight right before they screamed with passionate joy. Though the Marvel films have sported several prominent female supporting characters, Black Widow is the only featured player in the Avengers and Cap 2 and even she hasn’t gotten her own movie despite being the most recognizable female character in the MCU. But after Black Widow, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, has been the female hero most desired to show up among the ranks of the Marvel films. Well, now we’ve got it! And thank God it’s Captain Marvel, not Ms. Marvel. This means we’re most likely getting the rebooted version of Carol as depicted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Dexter Soy, and David Lopez, depending on which volume you’re reading. It’s about time Marvel added another kickass woman to their universe of films.

 

Inhumans – November 2, 2018Inhumans

Of all the movies, this is the one I’m the least knowledgeable on since I’m not a diehard Marvel reader. But, from what I can piece together through a rapid Google search, the Inhumans are superpowered beings whose ancestors were genetically experimented on by the Kree, an alien race, back in the days of early Homo sapiens. Deemed the inhuman race, they developed a society of their own separate from normal humans. Technological advancements allowed them to create a mutagenic mist that gave them powers but also caused deformities, which pushed them to practice selective breeding.

So, for all intents and purposes, the Inhumans will probably function as a stand-in for mutants, since Fox isn’t giving that up for a while. Still, I’ll be there to watch it. I didn’t know anything about Guardians of the Galaxy and I was all the better for it!

 

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 – May 3, 2019thanos_avengers

The conclusion, which I assume will be epic!

 

So that’s Marvel’s Phase 3 and I’m all kinds of excited. For me this doesn’t boil down to Marvel vs DC, it’s all about getting the next six years worth of films coming out and seeing how Marvel continues to build their franchises and DC starts to build theirs. I can only win.

What are your thoughts on this lineup? Excited? Underwhelmed? Overwhelmed? Just whelmed? Let me know!

Meet-The-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

Even by comic book standards Guardians of the Galaxy is an obscure property. Not that Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America were household names like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, but at least people were somewhat aware of the characters whether through comics, cartoons, or embarrassing early 90s movies. Hulk was probably the most well-known amongst the Avengers and even he suffered through two middling movies. Given the success of The Avengers, Marvel could’ve easily picked any number of heroes to launch within their Phase 2, so why Guardians of the Galaxy? Why take the risk on a group no one, not even some die-hard Marvel readers, was aware of with a cast of characters that included a gun-toting raccoon and a sentient tree with a limited vocabulary? I could give you a long explanation about how Guardians fits into the overall mega-event Marvel’s leading towards with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet storyline from the comics, but in simplistic terms? They could, so they did.

Okay, yes, there’s more to it than that but from the get-go there’s been an attitude surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy, one of “Yeah, Guardians of the Galaxy. Trust us. We got this.” And as moviegoers, we collectively consented to the idea. Marvel had earned enough goodwill that we believed in their vision. The result is yet another blockbuster to keep Marvel on its unprecedented streak of solidly entertaining superhero movies. No two Marvel movies have been entirely alike save for a through line of tone and world building. Thor took us into the realm of fantasy, Captain America gave us a World War 2 era film as well as an action-packed spy thriller, and The Avengers gave us the ultimate team-up. Guardians, however, is straight sci-fi adventure that expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe across the galaxy. Director James Gunn infuses Guardians with his snarky, rebellious attitude coming out of his experience with indie and Troma films, but also rises to the challenge of delivering his first big budget, special effects laden homage to the sci-fi genre.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-posterPeter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, having spent most of his life in space after being abducted from Earth in 1988, unknowingly stumbles upon a highly valued orb that contains one of the infamous infinity stones. Seeking the orb is Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) who sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin), to retrieve the orb so that Ronan can get revenge on the planet Xandar despite a peace treaty between Xandar, home to the Nova Corps, and Ronan’s people, the Kree. Quill is also pursued by bounty hunters Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) after his boss Yondu (Michael Rooker) puts a price on his head for going rogue. When the four end up in prison, they gain another ally in Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who seeks revenge on Ronan for the death of his family. Seeing that they share a common enemy, and a desire to continue living, the five band together to thwart Ronan and save the galaxy.

From the moment the first trailer dropped and the first poster circulated around the internet, the marketing campaign for Guardians was unabashedly cocky in its presentation of a team formed from a rag-tag group of outlaws, assassins, thieves, and thugs. It was a choice reflective not just of James Gunn’s style but also the journey towards heroism made by the team. The Guardians aren’t necessarily brought together through nobility of purpose. They’re outcasts, misfits, and loners. They’ve all suffered loss because of the hand dealt to them by the universe, but in finding each other they have a reason to care about something bigger than themselves. Gunn and his co-writer, Nicole Perlman, manage to get this across via cinematic tribute; starting the film with Star-Lord, alone on a planet, retrieving an artifact a la Raiders of the Lost Ark and progressing the narrative the through a visual spectacle invoking Star Wars until the team is truly formed in a shot straight-up lifted from The Right Stuff. Through it all the movie maintains a lighthearted tone, but isn’t afraid to go for the gut-wrenching darkness needed to delve into the backstories of the main characters. It’s the humor, however, that sustains the movie. That and a soundtrack that acts as a time capsule of 60s and 70s pop music sure to make even the surliest fanboy tap his feet. Hell, I’ve had just about every song stuck in my head for days after seeing the film.Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Rocket-Raccoon

For an ensemble piece like this you couldn’t ask for a better cast. Pratt truly solidifies his status as a leading man, channeling every roguish character imaginable into a ball of charm and overconfidence that would make Han Solo nod in approval. Saldana makes being a deadly assassin look easy; kicking ass and taking names without breaking a sweat, yet still managing to exude some of Gamora’s vulnerability despite the cold exterior. Bautista is surprisingly good as Drax. I don’t know anything about his career as a wrestler, but whatever limited acting skills he has never made it on-screen. Drax’s inability to understand metaphors actually worked to Bautista’s advantage, giving him some of the funnier lines in the film. And though they weren’t present for filming, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel turn in wonderfully nuanced performances as Rocket and Groot respectively. These were the two characters everyone worried about in terms of audience acceptance, but the special effects team knocked it out of the park with the two bounty hunters. They were textured and expressive, making us believe, from the moment we see them, that they belong in this world. Cooper’s Rocket is a damaged soul, the only one of his kind and his rage and sorrow are played straight during several unexpected moments. But he’s right up there going snark for snark with Quill. Rocket easily steals the movie with his one-liners and overall awesomeness. Oddly enough, Diesel delivers as Groot. He only has three words to work with, but Diesel manages to make each reading different, showing that inflection, spacing, and emotion can make three words seem like a paragraph.

Star-LordAs an ensemble, the Guardians are the epitome of a Marvel family. Their clashing personalities work off each other as they fight and bicker over just about everything. Scenes between just the five characters are the strongest in the film. The timing is perfect and Gunn seems to take great delight in throwing the typical clichés in our faces with a well placed one-liner. The main characters are bolstered by a strong supporting cast including Glenn Close, John C. Reilly , Peter Serafinowicz, Djimon Hounsou, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, and cameos from Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie, Seth Green, and Troma director/producer Lloyd Kaufman. Gunn even includes a nice little role for his brother, Sean Gunn, who was the body actor for Rocket during filming. It’s an amazing cadre of actors assembled and shows the pull Gunn and Marvel has for getting quality talent. Even the smallest roles could potentially lead to bigger things in the future.

So with all the praise I’ve been doling out, there are a few problems that most Marvel movie aficionados will see unfold. For one, Ronan the Accuser’s motivation is about as surface level as any Marvel villain. He wants to destroy Xandar because EVIL! and that’s as far as it really goes for him. His myopic goal ultimately aids the Guardians in stopping him because he does little else to prove himself as a formidable villain other than throw Drax around and yell at Thanos. Maybe if we’d seen him destroy a planet that wasn’t Xandar to show exactly how powerful he’s become with the infinity stone and the failed attempt to stop him by the Guardians. Their failure than motivates them to make sure Xandar doesn’t meet the same fate. Something like that. It doesn’t help that the complex backstories of each character only get brief enough mentionsRonan-the-Accuser-in-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy for the needs of exposition. Quill has the biggest arc of the movie in order to ground the audience, but it means Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot’s stories need to be put on the back burner. To the movie’s credit, though, they give us just enough background to give certain scenes the proper emotional weight. Rocket’s drunken outburst about being a monster feels genuine given what we’ve seen and know about him and Gamora’s anger at Thanos for being turned into an assassin is palpable.

Overall, the movie is well paced but there are times where it feels like scenes were inexplicably cut that were needed to make the transitions within the story smoother. Characters just happen to have vital information or show up at the right time out of plot convenience rather than a more organic flow. Yondu and the Ravagers happen to end up on Knowhere at the same time as things go awry with The Collector and Ronan shows up upon Drax’s drunken request because…reasons? It serves the purpose of making the stakes higher and giving us a kickass chase sequence, but how we arrive from point A to point B is a bit hazy. The fight between Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) also exemplifies the need for better characterization and editing. The whole sequence feels like it was supposed to be longer – the trailers at least indicated this was so – since Gamora and Nebula’s sibling rivalry drives the savagery of the fight. Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-GamoraUnfortunately the editing makes it much shorter, which could also be the result of underutilizing Nebula as a character. Though she appears badass and definitely carries plenty of attitude, Nebula becomes more of an obstacle for Gamora and their fight lacks the emotional impact it should between the “daughters” of Thanos. Hopefully there’s a director’s cut that will get released because I’d love to see what Gunn’s complete vision was for the movie.

The problems, however, shouldn’t dissuade you from seeing the film. Like I said, they’re typical of Marvel movies, but there’s definitely an opening for further characterization and storytelling now that the team/family has been formed. If anything, Guardians of the Galaxy shows how a team-up movie can be made without the building block process of individual films Marvel has relied upon in the past. Not only does this open up more possibilities for other Marvel movies, but shines a light of hope on certain other comic book team movies coming out in a couple of years.

Until then, go see Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m more than twelve percent certain you’ll enjoy it.