IT’S THE MOST anticipated superhero movie you’ve possibly never heard of.
At least that’s how Marvel Studios is approaching its initial pitch for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” for which the first trailer debuted Tuesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (which airs on ABC, which is owned by Disney, which also owns Marvel. Ah, synergy!)
“Guardians of the Galaxy” represents Marvel Studio’s first major role of the commercial dice after its successful Phase One plan that brought the Avengers to the big screen by first rolling out individual hero movies featuring such relatively well-known characters as Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor. Phase Two — and the countdown to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in 2015 — has got off to a good start with “Thor: The Dark World” being a hit last year, and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” poised for similar success this spring.
But what about this Galaxy group of space rebels? Can Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot have similar box-office numbers as other Marvel flicks without the same name recognition? And how do you establish that name recognition to begin with?
Well, Marvel Studios certainly made this first trailer for non-fanboys who may have been getting their first look at this comic-book outer space team during “Kimmel.” The trailer — which featured the team in a jail lineup, with each member being described individually with code names and brief background stories — comes off as Marvel’s decision to say: “Hey, maybe you’re not as familiar with these guys as you are with Iron Man, but just trust us on this one.”
It’s a smart move out of the gate.
Marvel knows the fanboys will turn out in droves at least once to see “Guardians” (multiple times if they like it), thanks in part to writer Brian Michael Bendis’s excellent relaunch of the GOTG comic book. But the key to any successful comic-book movie franchise is satisying both fanboy devotion and general-public interest. So though there might be a more detailed trailer in the near-future before the film’s Aug. 1 release, for now we get “Guardians 101.” So with that in mind, here are Five Things that stood out from the first trailer:
It looks as though the universe is just getting to know Peter Quill, the self-proclaimed Star-Lord. We see Quill for the first time being captured by guards who — much to his dismay — have no idea who he is. He’s a rebel who appears to have no cause, despite being the leader of the Guardians. It appears Quill will be figuring things out along the way, as he goes from goofball to hero.
Quill is played by Chris Pratt, who is the only earth human on the team. Despite being the only team member who doesn’t require special makeup (unlike Zoe Saldana’s Gamora or Dave Bautista’s Drax) or CGI (like Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel’s Groot), Pratt looks as if he jumped straight out of the pages of the GOTC comic. He’s in superhero shape and looks ready to become the face of this potential film franchise.
Someone seeing this team for the first time could believe that
Bautista’s Drax is the muscle, but in the comic books, Gamora is known as “the most dangerous woman in the universe.”
No stranger to action roles, Zoe Saldana seems a great pick to portray the green-skinned alien assassin. We only get brief glimpses of her in this trailer, but it seems Gamora will have a few, eye-popping battles.
3. Don’t mess with Rocket
We know what Bradley Cooper sounds like, but it was a bit disappointing not to get to hear him as Rocket Raccoon. But this trailer lets actions speak louder than words, and based on what we see from Rocket — the pint-sized but well-armed, alien-curse-word-spewing member of the team — well, It’s not too often you see a raccoon go straight Rambo in space.
He should become a household name by the end of the summer.
4. A new tone for Marvel movies
Marvel Studios is signaling that this won’t be your standard comic-book movie. There’s the slight comedic tone lacing the deep-space action.
“Guardians” appears to be an attempt to establish the Marvel universe in space. And those familiar with Marvel comics know that if this movie is successful, it could open up the door to many more space-based Marvel characters appearing on the big screen.
5. What’s next?
Now that the world has been introduced to the cinematic version of the “Guardians,” the next thing to do is to reveal more about the team members. Logically, this trailer introduced Pratt as Star-Lord, the team leader. But now that the introductions have been made, potential fans will want to hear Rocket and Groot talk (though if you read the comics, you know Groot isn’t the most talkative tree in the universe), as well as see more of each member in action, and get a longer glimpse at the bad guys.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to unveil these facets through fresh footage between now and August.
Follow David Betancourt on Twitter: @aDCfanboy