Blueberry Pie with Blue Vanilla Ice Cream
Guardians of the Galaxy is over-the-top, borderline nonsensical, deeply irreverent, highly bombastic, deathly sarcastic, but they are the most engaging, emotionally driven characters in the MCU. I’ll be honest, the action was more limited in this movie, the plot discombobulated, the overall phase 3 build-up nearly non-existent, but the characters were given the screen time to be fleshed out and built up. It put any doubt out of my mind that this was the golden child ensemble of the Marvel universe and that has to say something.
Guardians of the Galaxy is eclectic in its production design, character development, and action sequences setting the scenes against the backdrop of classic music from the 80’s on. Its cinematography and aesthetic has an empathy for the sci-fi nostalgic culture of the 80’s which hearkens back to the comic’s origins and feel. It’s a science fiction film with American pop-culture infused in the world-building. It reminds me of movies like Shrek where a fantasy, obviously set apart from our world, is interpreted by our culture with classic rock and Smash Mouth encapsulating it. Or what about Knight’s Tale, a “modern” day story about knights duking it out on horses set to rock music from the 90’s? Some movies try to employ this eclectic mix of world-building clashing, but none has done it better than Guardians of the Galaxy. The production design and aesthetic sometimes feels like a cross between Tomorrowland escapism, Spaceballs parody, and Back to the Future romanticism. It’s a great mix just like Starlord’s own mixtape. Take all these elements of superhero genre, space parody, nostalgic sci-fi tropes, bombastic action, throw in a little modern day sarcasm and you have one slam-bam American movie.
The movie really works though in its character development where family is the essential running theme and although the plot is rushed, disheveled, and at times, a let-down, I mostly enjoyed seeing the character’s interaction and the humorous interplays. The key relationships reside in Rocket Raccoon and Yondu’s relatable camaraderie; Mantis and Drax’s awkward, blunt yet sweet friendship; Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) insecure relationship that suffers from a fear of commitment; and the parental love that all have for Baby Groot. The forefront relationship though and the character arc that really satisfies is the tension between Star Lord’s relationship with his biological father Ego (Kurt Russel) and Yondu. I won’t give anything away, but the tension isn’t necessarily between good guys and bad guys, but between family and the past. The problem isn’t whether or not the Guardians can save the galaxy, but whether or not they can function as a family.
This is where I really enjoyed the movie. Imagine Little Miss Sunshine as a superhero movie and Guardians is what you’ll get and it’s great. It’s about dysfunctional family relationships that need healing in order to accomplish a unified goal. You get more out of the interactions between the characters than the plot. And thankfully the humor shows up to be more than unintelligent quips (unlike what the Avenger’s have been suffering with). Visual comedy is fresh, running jokes aren’t forgotten, nonsensical twists are employed, and best of all its set to some awesome music.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a refresh for phase 3. I’m excited to see more of them, but I am also seeing how tired I am of the cliche tropes being used in Marvel’s other movies where character development seems to be suffering under the burden of same-old ethical dilemmas and relational problems. Perhaps the Avengers need some family time like the Guardians because when you start to appreciate the characters apart from what they deliver for the plot, you know you’re making a good movie. Blueberry pie for that quality reunion of family. Ice Cream for cold sarcasm, vanilla for sweet action, and Blue Vanilla Ice Cream for that sensational opening with Mr. Blue Sky and your’s truly, baby Groot.