Suspension of disbelief is being pushed to the limits.
An Editorial By, Senior Editor and loud mouthed critic, PK
When I was recently asked for my thoughts on Marvel’s upcoming movies, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man, my reply was, “who and or what?” Which raised an interesting question regarding Marvel’s choices for stories for their next feature films; are they taking a huge gamble on stories and characters that the average person may not know about or embrace because they’re too different? I’m a fellow superhero nerd, yet I’ve never embraced it to the point where I’m reading comics regularly or keeping up with storylines outside of TV and movies for the mainstream heroes like DC’s Batman and Superman, and Marvel’s Captain America and Iron Man. I enjoy the stories and content but I’m not beholden to it, so much that I can’t be impartial. So I usually try to approach reviews of movies and other media from the outsider’s point of view, since I feel it helps the review seem more fair than a fan-boy lavishing praise or some non-fan criticizing a culture they don’t fully understand.
Marvel has taken several of their well known properties such as Iron Man and Thor, turning them into a new world-wide sensation with wonderful actors and storylines which have captured new generations of fans. I mean hey, who doesn’t enjoy a drunken billionaire in a cybernetic suit blowing up the bad guys? The movies were so well done, that it didn’t matter if you had ever read a comic book in your life. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Spider Man; these are characters that captured people’s hearts and enthralled audiences of all ages. Marvel had finally found that cinematic formula to bring these characters to life in a way that would capture the minds and more importantly the dollars of people who originally wouldn’t have given comic book movies a first or second look. Marvel is riding a huge high right now from the rapidly expanding fan community, and now they’re looking to use stories that the average person may not have heard of.
That’s not a bad thing at all, and don’t get me wrong, I’m very much in favor of bringing stories and characters from comics that the majority haven’t heard of to the big screen. I love my mainstream heroes, but they’ve been rebooted and their stories retold so many times it makes me groan in pain. After doing some research on Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man, I see they have a strong following from dedicated comics fans, but my concern is, will they inspire the average non-comics fan movie-goer to spend their hard earned money for a ticket?
Ant Man for example, involves the S.H.I.E.L.D storyline as we’ve seen during the current line of Marvel movies. S.H.I.E.L.D agent Eric O’Grady becomes the superhero known as Ant Man when he dons a shrinking suit which well, shrinks him to the size of an ant and lets him even talk to and control the actual insects, with a mention in his back-story that he even sneaks into women’s shower rooms. Keeping in mind the great digital effects we have these days, the idea of spending 90 minutes watching an ant sized superhero with the expected gratuitous short jokes just doesn’t grab my attention. The shrinking suit is great for spying in theory, and I can imagine some situations where you’d have your army of ants eat some bad guy alive (but I don’t see Marvel getting that gory), but unless he wants to team up with Jerry O’Connell from Joe’s Apartment, I think I’ll pass on this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy is our next conundrum, and I actually want this movie to work. Although when I tried reading through the back-story of the comic, I ended up just kind of shaking my head and wondering if this won’t be a straight to video flick. Guardians of the Galaxy hails from Marvel Comics circa 1969, but the movie will be focusing on the 2008 rendition of the popular superhero interstellar team which battles evildoers in an alternate reality of the 31st century.
This section from Wikipedia covers the comics version of the story better than I could describe it:
In the aftermath of the Phalanx invasion of the Kree, Star-Lord decides to form a team of interstellar heroes that will be proactive in protecting the galaxy, rather than reacting to crises as they happen. To this end, he recruits Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Phyla-Vell (the new Quasar), Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, with Mantis as support staff. On the recommendation of their ally, Nova, the group establishes a base of operations on the space station Knowhere, which possesses a teleportation system with near-universal range. An intelligent, telepathic dog named Cosmo is Knowhere’s chief of security and works closely with the new team. After a confrontation with the Universal Church of Truth, the team’s meets a semi-amnesiac man who identifies himself as Vance Astro - Major Victory of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Astro’s declaration inspires the as-yet-unnamed team to adopt the “Guardians of the Galaxy” name for their own. When the team learns Star-Lord directed Mantis to telepathically coerce the heroes into joining the team, they disband.
Rocket Raccoon decided to continue Star-Lord’s mission and started a search for the missing members. He asked Bug to join the team, as well Groot’s return to full size and the addition of Mantis and Major Victory as field members.
Meanwhile Star-Lord was banished to the Negative Zone by Ronan the Accuser for his actions during the Phanlanx’s attempted conquest of the Kree Empire. There, he finds himself in the middle of King Blastaar‘s fight to break into 42 and use its portal to invade Earth. Star-Lord allies with Jack Flag to defend the prison and contact the other Guardians for rescue. Rocket’s new team successfully brings both of them back, and Flag becomes a Guardian.
Elsewhere, Drax and Phylla begin looking for Cammi, but on their search they talk to a seer who tells them about an oncoming war. Phylla was able to wake Moondragon from the dead, but lost her Quantum Bands in the process. The consequence for Phyla is that she is now the new avatar of death. They went back to Knowhere and did not follow up on the search for Cammi.
Despite being the outsider looking in, I’m a life long science fiction and superhero fan with an open mind. But reading that description and the associated information I’ve found, makes even me concerned that it’s going to be harder than it looks to make this story work as a full fledged live action-CGI movie. Admittedly I could be over thinking this, they may make it work and the average person not looking beyond what’s on the screen will just enjoy the characters and the sci-fi action. Once I got past the wtf factor, the thought of characters like an interstellar talking racoon with a heavy weapons fetish could make for an amusing theatrical experience. Guardians of the Galaxy comes across as a mash up of Lord Of the Rings, X-Men, and Nintendo’s StarFox, but I have to say I’m interested in seeing if Marvel can make a big screen adaptation actually work.