If you like your Avengers – as in “Marvel’s The Avengers” – rough around the edges, with more than a dash of genre-spoofing irony, welcome to “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Since the Marvel machine was having such a grand time at the box office lately by holding true to its traditions, via such characters as Spider-Man and Captain America, it’s great that the company was willing in 2014 to have some fun with itself by bringing perhaps its least-traditional franchise to the screen. If Marvel’s other characters are the Cadillacs of superheroes, these are the DeLoreans. TNT shows the result Tuesday, Sept. 7, and Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Comprised of various species with a variety of skills, the Guardians are led by the roguish Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, in a neat variation on the not-as-cool-as-he-thinks-he-is image that the actor had perfected in such television ventures as “Parks and Recreation”).
Those under his lead include a green-hued killer (Zoe Saldana), a literal muscle man (Dave Bautista, of wrestling fame), a raccoon (with the voice of Bradley Cooper) and a single-minded walking tree (voiced by Vin Diesel).
The gang’s mission is to keep a power-granting orb away from a warlord (Lee Pace, “Pushing Daisies”) who wants to use it against a planet. The action never gets too slick for the film’s purposes, though the special effects are right on par with other genre entries.
Ultimately, it’s the attitude of “Guardians of the Galaxy” that makes all the difference. Pratt joked in interviews about his amazement that he was playing a commander of otherworldly beings, and that sensibility infuses his performance, always reinforcing that this is meant to be an offbeat Marvel.
This picture was such a success, it was inevitable that a sequel would follow, and that arrived in 2017. There’s been a bit of a wait for the third edition, but that’s expected to be on screens in 2023 (subject to change, of course, depending on how production may be affected by health circumstances).
One can anticipate that continuing franchise director James Gunn again will achieve the neat trick of keeping Round 3 part of a genre while also sending it up. There’s always a wink to the audience with anything that occurs in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and that inclusiveness is key to its success … and the reason that it was certain from the outset that the Guardians wouldn’t be making a one-time-only visit.