Screaming trees? Green people? Skinny Andy Dwyer!? There is no apparent ryhme or reason to the latest Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, which stuffs as many action shots and bits of weirdness as it can into an 18-second cacophony. While the comic book faithfuls are already knowingly pin pointing their favorite characters and speculating on possible plot points, most filmgoers are probably wondering when Iron Man is going to wiz by with the rest of the Avengers in tow.
The thing is, the Avengers aren’t coming (not even Hawkeye, and we know he’s not doing anything important). The Guardians of the Galaxy is a team that lies on the far out fringes of Marvel’s comic book universe, way outside Avengers jurisdiction. They are a ragtag group of warriors, bastards, and runaways that seek to make the universe a brighter and better place. And that’s all fine and good, but does the average moviegoer really care?
That will be the question when Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters this August. The issue is that Marvel’s latest adventure simply doesn’t have the same recognition and ubiquity of their earlier films. The public knew who Spider-Man, or Captain America, or Iron Man, or even Thor was (to varying degrees) before Marvel started creating their stand-alone films, but we’re betting names like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Drax the Destroyer (Batista) won’t ring nearly as many bells outside of comic book shops. In a filmgoing age where people seem downright allergic to watching sci-fi films that don’t already have some sort brand recognition in pop culture (just ask Guillermo del Toro), Guardians is looking like an increasingly risky move for Disney. This is going to be the litmus test to see if the “Marvel” name can carry a film to box office success without the helping hands of a recognizable superhero frontman.
In fact, judging from the precious few seconds of footage in the teaser, someone not familiar with the property might already be turned off by the fact that this doesn’t look like a superhero film at all. Guardians is very much a space opera, finding probably more in common with Stargate than Spider-Man. The film won’t have the same beats as the usual capes and spandex adventure. In the teaser, there are shots of alien ships, space prisons, people on various spots of the color wheel, and a racoon (Bradley Cooper) firing a machine gun on the shoulders of a screaming mossy tree creature (Vin Diesel). This is going to be a weird looking film, and it will take a lot for the usual audiences to accept it for all of its eccentricities. Hopefully, people give Guardians a chance, so that Marvel can feel confident enough to try their luck on even weirder, and more “out there” properties. If nothing else, at least we’ll finally get the episode of Burt Macklin: Space Ranger that we’ve all sort of wanted.