I...I...I'm...hooked on a feeling!
The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is the fifth franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. It is based off of various Guardians of the Galaxy comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldaña.
"When I look around, you know what I see? Losers." - Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy)
When a group of misfit criminals assemble together to take down a powerful enemy, they discover that they are the family that none of them had ever had.
Guardians of the Galaxy has solidified itself as one of Marvel's best franchises.
The best thing about this franchise is the characters. When this movie came out in 2014, no one knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were. They weren't B-list or even C-list Marvel characters. They were unheard of. Even some of the biggest Marvel fans probably didn't know who these characters were. And these movies have made them some of the most popular characters in the comic book world. I released a ranking of the Guardians yesterday (check it out here), and it was really difficult, because all of these characters are fantastic. They are all memorable. They all have standout moments. They all have great arcs across the trilogy. They are awesome, awesome heroes and prove to be some of the most compelling living characters in the MCU.
I also love the concept of this story. A band of misfits coming together and becoming a family is a heartfelt template that has been used plenty of times before, but James Gunn makes it weirder and funnier with the Guardians. The first movie makes you cry because a talking tree says "We are Groot" to an anthropomorphic raccoon. That's ridiculous! And it shouldn't work! But it does. And it is amazing.
I will also go ahead and say that this is the funniest franchise in the MCU. The Spider-Man movies can be really funny. The Ant-Man movies can be funny. None of them are really on the level of Guardians. Part of what makes these movies so funny is the dynamic between the characters and the super weird things that they do. For example, Drax and Mantis are an extremely odd duo, but they are so funny, because Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff riff so well off of each other. Drax's literal humor and Mantis's strange way of interacting with people just mesh together so nicely. It's one example of how the Guardians movies are the funniest in the franchise.
I'd also say that this franchise consistently has the most distinct direction in the MCU. James Gunn is a great filmmaker. I'm not getting into the controversy and everything with that, so looking at him just from a filmmaking perspective, he has this wacky style that just works perfectly with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The great characters, gooey and gross set pieces, weird creatures, and fantastic soundtracks are all courtesy of Gunn. It's sad that he's moving onto DC, because I think he does a great job with Marvel, but he could make DC awesome.
This could also be the most emotional franchise in the MCU. Obviously, a lot of the MCU's premier franchises have great, big emotions, but Guardians feels a little more poignant because these characters are done so well. As I said earlier, the family aspect is one of my favorite parts of the trilogy, and that just makes this group feel tighter-knit. Especially because of all of these tragic backstories. Star-Lord's mom, Rocket's creation, Drax's family, Gamora and Nebula's early lives...all of it makes for some of the most compelling and emotional stuff in the MCU.
I also think that this franchise, along with The Avengers, is the most complete in the MCU. There is a clear, three-story arc across the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. James Gunn clearly had this thing fully planned out from the beginning. If you watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it reframes things that were introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy. The characters are all setup to have these fantastic journeys that are all completed by the end of Vol. 3. We could not see a single one of these characters again and I would feel okay with it, because all of their stories are complete. The trilogy kicks off with a bang and lands swiftly, and that cannot be said about a lot of the franchises in the MCU.
I think the biggest problem with the Guardians movies are the villains. None of the films have great villains. Ronan is a pretty generic space conqueror that receives barely any development. We don't find out Ego is a villain until the end of Vol. 2, so our main antagonists for most of the movie are the Sovreign and Taserface, and that kind of speaks for itself. And, while I think the High Evolutionary is the best villain in the trilogy, I think he could've used a bit more depth and a lot less shrieking. They are definitely the weakest characters in the trilogy, but it proves that you don't always need a great villain to have a great trilogy.
I also think that the Guardians movies don't really mesh great with the rest of the MCU. I love the Guardians in both Infinity War and Endgame, but I think it kind of throws a wrench in their story. Gamora's death throws things off, so her usage in Guardians 3 feels weird. They have Thor become a Guardian for a few minutes. It's easy to forget that the Guardians are in Love and Thunder, because they just don't quite fit in with the rest of the Marvel universe. Their story doesn't fit together as well as it should with the other ones in the MCU. That's not a huge problem, but it is something to point out.
But there's nothing else I really have negative here. I love these movies.
Final Thoughts and Score
The Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy is one of Marvel's strongest and weirdest franchises. Fun, distinct direction, thrilling visuals, hilarious moments, and, of course, incredible characters make this franchise great.
I will go Sweet here. Age range is 11+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
Fun Factor: 9/10
Directed by James Gunn
Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, frightening themes and images, language, thematic elements
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as Groot
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri, Young Rocket Raccoon
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Will Poulter as Adam Warlock
Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser
Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet
Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan / The Collector
Kevin Bacon as Kevin Bacon
Maria Bakalova as Cosmo the Spacedog
John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey
Glenn Close as Irani Rael / Nova Prime
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill
Seth Green as Howard the Duck
Linda Cardellini as Lylla