The first full-length trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy was released this week and it marks the tenth movie that will be released in the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe, joining the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers movie franchises as well as The Incredible Hulk movie and the television show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also coming from Marvel Studios this year is Captain America: The Winter Soldier which continues the Captain America franchise and seems to be tied very closely to the S.H.I.E.L.D. stories and characters that featured in Avengers. These will be the last two movies before all the interconnecting threads meet again in Avengers: Age of Ultron and I thought I’d do an early overview of them both.
Guardians of the Galaxy really cements Marvel Studios’ desire to bring a wide range of comic characters into live action, whether on television or film, instead of relying on their familiar franchises. In many ways this movie is the riskiest move that Marvel’s made since they took a that initial step with Iron Man. Guardians of the Galaxy moves the story much further into cosmic Marvel than Thor 2 did and will have to establish characters that are unfamiliar to many comic fans, not to mention general audiences. Some comic fans may be familiar with Rocket Raccoon and Groot, but the secret is going to be making the rest of the audience accept and grow emotionally attached to a CGI raccoon and a large walking tree. I know it’s possible because I’ve only read one issue of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic and those were the two characters I felt most drawn to right off the bat. Their friendship really stood out immediately, but the secret will be transferring that believably into live action.
The trailer clearly establishes that this movie will be a comedic space adventure, but they’re going to have to keep the audience grounded in the characters and avoid making the story and setting too cheesy. The previous Marvel movies have done a good job embracing the comic book feel without going too far and this movie will have to do that without an Earth setting to ground the audience. Even Thor 2 kept half of its cast on Earth. There are a lot of ways this movie could fall short and without a big name like Robert Downy Jr. to bring people in the film is going to have to rely on the goodwill that Marvel Studios has generated with audiences over the past several years in order to fill the seats.
Marvel has done their part to increase interest by teasing the existence Thanos at the end of Avengers, teasing the Collector at the end of Thor 2, and gearing the last year of their comics to more cosmically oriented storylines which included bringing back Guardians of the Galaxy for a new run. The comics even temporarily moved Iron Man into space so that he could be on the team. The only character that would have drawn more eyes to the comic would have been Spider-Man, but he’s in the midst of a very complicated storyline of his own and doesn’t really belong in space anyway.
Guardians of the Galaxy comes out in August, but first Marvel Studios will be releasing Captain America: The Winter Soldier this April. All indications point to the movie being based heavily on the Ed Brubaker run on the Captain America series. That was the run that saw the introduction of the Winter Soldier and is often cited as one of the best comic runs of the last decade. For the sake of this article and I will avoid discussing who the Winter Soldier is because the trailers have done a surprisingly good job of keeping that mysterious, but if you don’t know and want to, a quick Google search will tell you.
Unlike Guardians of the Galaxy this movie seems to have a much more serious tone in its trailers and is being described as a spy thriller. It will also feature several familiar faces from previous movies which should help draw audiences. Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Maria Hill will all be present and the movie will also be expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe by introducing new characters from the comics such as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and the villain Crossbones.
In my opinion Captain America: The First Avenger was one of Marvel Studios’ most difficult sells because Marvel had to take a character that could have easily been seen as nothing but old-fashioned, cheesy propaganda and make him into a character that the general public would enjoy watching. Not only that, but they had to do it in a way that would play well internationally as well as in the United States. They managed to find a balance by gently mocking the origins of the character as propaganda and not losing him in the stars and stripes. They then had to bring the character into the modern era in the Avengers and now with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they will have to establish a fully contemporary setting. If it’s truly following the Brubaker run’s example, the tone will be completely different and there will be a lot less patriotic theater and a lot more questioning of the role for Captain America in the modern world.
The monetary expectations for both of these movies will be different, but as long as they’re both successful we can expect to see Marvel Studios broadening their cinematic offerings even further in the future. Ant-Man is already set for next year after Avengers: Age of Ultron and there have been talks of bringing characters like Doctor Strange onto the big screen. On the other hand, if Guardians of the Galaxy has trouble finding an audience Marvel may well take a step back and decide to make a few safer choices in the next set of films.
What do you all think? Are you planning to see these movies?