Even though it is still several months out Marvel and Disney have been pushing Guardians of the Galaxy pretty hard these past few months, with it all culminating in the first trailer debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live. It is no surprise that there has been a lot of buzz coming from Disney about this since, out of all the Marvel properties we have seen from them so far, the Guardians are easily the least well known. There is not a single household name character in the group, and the star power is not quite on par with previous Marvel outings, and that means it is a harder sell to your typical movie going audience. So, then, does the trailer deliver the goods and get the hype train rolling?
It is tough for me to say since I am fairly immersed in geek culture — and those I tend to associate with are as well — so I have to go by general Internet reaction, which has been fairly positive all around. The trailer has more than ten millions views on Youtube less than a week after its launch, which I would say is a pretty good turnout for this movie. It has people talking, and that is ultimately what a trailer is supposed to do. Whether or not the buzz can be maintained for the next few months is another matter, but it does look like Disney is willing to put some financial muscle behind this.
So, then, as a fan of the Guardians comics ever since the 90s incarnation (which bears zero resemblance to this one, though I do hold out hope for some cameos), how does it work? Actually, honestly, I am a little disappointed. I am willing to attribute a good portion of that simply to raised expectations which is generally not a good thing to go into a trailer like this with. On the other hand, though, some of the things that I really wanted to see in the trailer were not present. Most notably the voices of any character other than Star-Lord, with a particular emphasis on Rocket and Groot. They did release a short teaser a few days later which did feature some of Bradley Cooper’s Rocket voicework, true, but I am going to discount that for the moment since it was not in the trailer itself.
It is my personal opinion that Rocket and Groot are going to be the largest factors in whether or not this movie will be a success. Star-Lord will bring the witty irreverance that modern audiences love, and Drax and Gamora are certainly more than capable of dishing out the violence, but Groot and Rocket are such outlandish, weird concepts that they need to be amazing or audiences will not accept them. Groot, in particular, is going to be a hard sell: he is a walking tree (a floral colossus, if we want to be specific) who only has one line of dialogue, which he repeats over and over: “I am Groot!”. It does work for Hodor in Game of Thrones, true, but Hodor is also quite clearly touched in the head, whereas Groot is actually supposed to be extremely intelligent. Rocket is a bipedal raccoon (though do not call him that to his face) with serious anger issues who carries around guns bigger than he is and is a certified tactical genius. The line between amazingly awesome and absolutely absurd in this case is astoundingly thin. The voice of each character is going to play a large part in whether or not they work. In fairness, given the fiasco with the voice of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises after the trailer for that was released, Marvel may realize exactly how important this is and are holding off to avoid something similar.
Setting aside expectations, though, the trailer did hit some important notes. The characters were introduced, and Star-Lord’s was particularly amusing. Using the beat of the background song to dictate the cuts between scenes is getting a bit tired, but is admittedly effective at ramping up the anticipation. There is very little in the way of plot revealed here, but there are enough clues tossed in for those who know what to look for. The inclusion (ever so briefly) of Nebula was a treat if you were fast enough to catch it, and even the Collector makes a quick appearance. The action looks good so far, but context is rather important, too. On a more geeky note, the inclusion of the Nova Corps was a great touch, and I am hopeful for a Rich Rider cameo.
All things considered the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer does what it needs to do: introduce the characters, present the basic concept, and let audiences know that this is not going to be a movie that takes itself particularly seriously (as if the inclusion of a walking tree and gun-totting raccoon was not clue enough). As more details emerge we will get a fuller picture of what to expect and where the story is going. Mostly, though, I am still just waiting to hear Vin Diesel as Groot.
You can check out the trailer on YouTube.