Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be fascinating.
To be honest, I was really worried about Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel has been batting a thousand in Phase 2 so far, with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World huge hits, as well as the success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and with the interesting and dark-looking Captain America: The Winter Soldier still to come. But Guardians of the Galaxy was destined to be the hardest sell for the company, given it’s out-there premise and the general lack of familiarity among the public with the comics. But then they go and give us this new trailer for the film, and as far as I’m concerned they knocked it out of the park. Take a look below and read on for my thoughts:
The trailer opens with a Raiders of the Lost Ark style intro, as we see Chris Pratt stealing some kind of artifact in the same style as Indiana Jones did when we were first introduced to him. Except that instead of the room collapsing when he takes the item, he’s surrounded by guards and immediately drops the artifact. Clearly he’s not your typical hero.
One of the men pointing weapons at him is none other than Djimon Hounsou as Korath, one of the handful of villains and henchmen in the film, who asks Pratt’s character who he is. “Star-Lord,” he answers, earning a confused “who?” from Korath and this awesome facial expression:
Clearly, this is not your standard superhero film. Anyone who calls himself Star-Lord and is met with snarky skepticism is not your typical hero. Clearly this film knows it has some big hurdles to clear, and the trailer does a great job of not only pointing out the story’s weirdness but also explicitly calling it out. This continues as we’re introduced to our cast of characters by a pitch-perfect John C. Reilly as an officer in the Nova Corps.
First up is Drax the Destroyer, played by former wrestler Dave Bautista. Drax, we’re informed, is out for vengeance after the murder of his wife and family.
Next we’ve got sci-fi queen Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) as Gamora, an assassin with a dark past, who has some connections to the film’s villains.
And here’s where things get weird: Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon. It’s one thing to try to sell a Han Solo/Star Wars/Firefly-esque story about a wise-cracking band of interstellar rogues who unite to protect the galaxy when they’re all generally human (if differently colored). But when one of your main characters is an anthropomorphic raccoon voiced by an Oscar nominee who is also the world’s biggest badass, marksman and tactician, that’s where you start to lose people. It’s also the moment when I can just imagine some people saying “wow, this looks stupid.” But stick with me, because it’s going to get weirder.
I give you Vin Diesel as Groot, the walking and talking tree creature, who is only capable of the words “I AM GROOT!” He’s been serving as Rocket’s “personal houseplant slash muscle,” we’re told, and as a character he actually predates the Guardians by about a decade. He’s a bit like Treebeard, the Ent from Lord of the Rings, but more violent and less talkative, and transplanted from the realm of fantasy into sci-fi.
And then there’s Peter Quill, who is sometimes called Star-Lord, but mostly just by himself. He’s the human (or part-human depending on which series of the comics you read) leader of the Guardians, and based on his “crank up the middle finger” gesture he’s not the most mature or serious hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s a little Han Solo, but updated to have a more modern sensibility. Pratt’s career in comedies should give Quill an attitude that will mesh well with the likes of Tony Stark if the two should ever cross paths down the road (Avengers 3 perhaps?).
This band of misfits make up the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of criminals and psychos who nevertheless will probably end up saving the day. No good superhero trailer would be complete without an action montage, and we’re going to get one, but the lead-in is perfect in setting the tone. As the usual suspects lineup forms, we see a guard trying on Quill’s headphones and listening to a very familiar song.
By this point, the “ooga chaka” chorus of Blue Swede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling” is almost a joke, as it’s pop culture moment has come and gone and it was beaten into the ground back in the 90s, but here it’s perfectly used. It’s familiar and funny and unexpected, giving us the feeling that the film will also be those three things. But it also tells us a lot about Peter Quill that he not only owns a walkman but that he would have brought that particular song across the galaxy. It makes him a little bit cool and a lot dorky, which also fits the vibe the film is going for.
In the action montage we get some interesting glimpses of characters and settings. This must be “Ship,” Quill’s sentient spaceship.
We get to see Groot and Rocket kicking some ass in what looks like a prison. The entire idea of a tree and a raccoon kicking ass may be laughable, but I bet once the film is out they’ll be the characters that people are talking about the most, and in a good way.
We get a quick glimpse of Dr. Who‘s Karen Gillian as Nebula, one of the film’s villains. Gillian shaved her head for the role. She’ll team up with Lee Pace (Thranduil from The Hobbit) as Ronan, and the two will be the main antagonists in the film.
This face should look familiar to anyone who stayed through the credits in Thor: The Dark World. That’s Benicio del Toro as The Collector aka Taneleer Tivan, a powerful character in the greater mythology of the Marvel universe, whose role in this first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is somewhat ambiguous at the moment, but will probably be more important in any sequels.
We end up back where we started, with John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey informing us that the group calls themselves the “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Earning the hilarious reply from his companion, “What a bunch of a-holes.”
We get one last look at our group of a-holes, as “Hooked on a Feeling” cuts back in and we get the film’s title. I can honestly say that I feel this was one of the most impressive trailers I’ve ever seen. Not from an artistic standpoint, but from the point of view of selling the film. I’m sure many people will probably still think it looks stupid, but I can guarantee they’ll remember it, and when the next trailer rolls out and inevitably gives us a better look at the film’s plot and backstory, they will already have a place in their brain carved out for it. The use of such a catchy and familiar song is as genius as it is unexpected, telling the audience that this is a movie that will be fun and not take itself too seriously. (Honestly, can you imagine Warner Bros. and DC making a film like this? I can’t imagine a Man of Steel sequel making fun of itself in this way.) While I was obviously going to see this film regardless, because I’m a big fan of what Marvel has done with their Cinematic Universe, I’m now genuinely excited for the film on its own right. Writer/Director James Gunn was an unconventional choice for a movie like this, and he’s made an unconventional film, which perfectly suits its unconventional story. The movie may still be a bust, but this trailer was perfect.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy? Had you ever heard of the group or characters before this trailer? What did you think of the trailer’s unique tone and memorable song choice? Has there ever been a superhero movie that advertised itself by a character calling our heroes “a-holes”? How do you think this movie will fit in with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Avengers? (Hint: Thanos.) Let me know in the comments!