The Kabooooom crew may all love pop culture, but we all have different tastes. In Kabooooom! Hangouts, a new ongoing discussion feature, we bring together our different points of view and talk about today’s hottest comics, television shows and movies. The end result is an opinionated, informative, thought-provoking and – hopefully – amusing conversation. Enjoy.
[Warning – SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy]
Sarah: I’ve got the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack blaring and ready to go. ::ooga chaka ooga ooga ooga chaka::
Marcus: Sweet. Should we get started?
Sarah: A good place to start with such an off beat movie, I think, is did either of you know the property before the Guardians of the Galaxy movie?
Marcus: Yes. I’ve been reading GotG regularly, and followed it off and on before.
Matt: I vaguely recall reading the name somewhere at some point. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you anything. My first exposure to Rocket was when he was revealed as one of the additional characters in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Truthfully, I’ve never much cared for Marvel’s cosmic universe and I loathe Jim Starlin’s writing in general.
Sarah: [laughs] And Starlin played a big role in these Guardians, yes?
Matt: From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, it isn’t like the original comics at all. By original, I mean the ones before the current Marvel Now! series. But based on what I’ve seen, that’s for the best.
Sarah: I didn’t know anything about it, really, so I’m curious what GotG is like as an adaptation? Faithful? Or more of a ‘capture the essence’ kind of movie
Marcus: Capture the essence I would say.
Sarah: Well that hasn’t seemed to disappoint fans all that much, the fact that it strays from the source material.
Marcus: The storyline wasn’t really from the comics. Sure, the first few issues of the new series dealt with bringing them together a bit, but overall this seemed like an cinematic origin.
Matt: Yeah, it captured the essence of characters like Groot and Rocket. I don’t know anything about Drax or Gamora. I do know they changed things pretty drastically for Star-Lord, but they rebooted his story in the comics anyway.
Marcus: Gamora was spot on. Drax was a low point, I felt.
Matt: See, Drax might be my favorite character. Which is odd because I usually love the roguish, deadpan snarkers like Rocket and Quill.
Sarah: I had heard Drax was made vastly different from who he is in the comics, but I have to say I liked the character in the movie. A lot. This must be an instance where it was better not knowing these characters beforehand, and just seeing what this version presented.
Matt: Definitely. There was one point early on where I began thinking “Oh gods… this is going to be bad…” The scene where we first see the bad guys in Thanos’ throne room and everyone is discussing the Orb. They are all so serious and everyone is throwing around the names of planets and races and talking about peace treaties and I thought “Oh gods, this is a perfect translation of all those boring Jim Starlin stories where they just dump information before telling you how awesome Thanos is…”
Marcus: Drax is definitely a divergence from the comic. And I did eventually like him. I just really, really didn’t like Dave Bautista as a casting choice
Sarah: I think Bautista’s inexperience added to his delivery of his lines, for this type of character anyhow. I don’t believe he has a varied or lush acting career ahead of him. [laughs]
Marcus: The way they tried to make Drax well spoken was weird.
Matt: See, I think that was a choice for the character that made an odd sort of sense. Drax trying to be well-spoken. I read a critique by one writer who complained about how much “telling” there is in the dialogue. And thinking about it, I think it’s totally logical that Drax would be as plain spoken as he is but – being the direct sort who doesn’t say much – speak in a very formal manner.
Marcus: I know that they were trying to make each character damaged and interesting. Yes. Drax lost his family and his well spoken…Oooh he destroys too. Lame. However he doesn’t understand metaphor… So thanks to Bautista I learned metaphor is a human creation. Thanks comics.
Matt: So he’s wearing his feelings on his upper arms because it doesn’t occur to him NOT to be open about what he wants to say. Drax reminds me of Carrot from the Discworld books. He’s simple. That doesn’t mean he’s stupid. He’s just direct and to the point. Like a sword.
Sarah: I agree, I think saying he speaks directly is a better way of putting it than well spoken. I have to say that I think there was a lot of humor at the expense of human culture seeming alien to, uhh… aliens. And while that’s nothing new in sci-fi, I think GotG managed to not make it stale.
Marcus: Agreed. They do that a lot in the series too.
Matt: It does make me wonder how the heck Quill got a cassette player onto his ship.
Sarah: I want to know how he’s still powering it!?!
Marcus: A nuclear charged tape deck from the 70’s.
Matt: I think this movie will give headaches to all the serious sci-fi fans. And I love it all the more for it. It’s the MST3K Mantra – if you’re wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts, just repeat to yourself “It’s just a show. I should really just relax.”
Marcus: I too loved it for the fact it didn’t take itself too seriously. Sure it was dark in places, but a lot of fun.
Sarah: Obviously we had different expectations based off of what we knew about the property beforehand, but how about from how the movie was sold? Did it end up being what you expected? I have to say that I knew it’d be funny, but it was way funnier than I expected
Marcus: I had really really low expectations. I honestly thought this would be the Marvel Studios film that bombed. I was pleasantly proven wrong.
Matt: I was expecting it to be hilarious and I was not disappointed. Granted, I’m a fan of James Gunn’s other films and balancing comedy with action in unexpected ways is the dude’s bread and butter. Case in point – did either of you see the first live-action Scooby Doo movie?
Sarah: I did, and though I don’t really remember it, I also don’t remember hating it. So whether that speaks well to the movie or not, I’m not really sure.
Marcus: [laughs] I did not see the Scooby Doo movie.
Matt: I ask because I went to see that movie in the theater purely because Rowan Atkinson was the bad guy (I’m a big Black Adder fan) and then I recognized the writer/director’s name as being the same guy who wrote/directed The Specials, which is one of my favorite comedies of all time. James Gunn does great ensemble pieces and has a gift for bringing out the best in his actors.
Sarah: So GotG was definitely in Gunn’s wheelhouse, and I’ll say that when Marvel lets their creatives do what they’re best at they get the better movies.
Marcus: Fun Fact: Sean Gunn – who was on Gilmore Girls forever ago – is James Gunn’s brother and was a Ravager and the on-set stand in for Rocket.
Sarah: Yes! I think it’s awesome people are being made aware of that, especially since it’s his performance as Rocket that those actors are reacting to.
Marcus: I think it would be a shame if Bradley Cooper got all the credit for Rocket, so props to Sean Gunn.
Sarah: Then let’s move to those performances, since I think the cast – especially Pratt – really sell the movie.
Matt: That’s true. Gunn set it up well, but the cast brought this home.
Marcus: I loved Pratt as Star-Lord. He was exactly what I imagine from the comics, plus he brought some individuality to the performance
Matt: To make a geeky comparison… Pratt played Star-Lord like every D&D geek who plays a rogue wanting to be Han Solo. And I say that as a guy who plays rogues in D&D – A LOT.
Sarah: I don’t think this character was a terribly big stretch for him, acting wise. His role in Zero Dark Thirty was a bigger departure from Parks and Recreation than this, but it’s going to be GotG that makes him an huge star. Well, that and Jurassic World. Assuming it doesn’t suck.
Matt: He’s already got the Robert Downey Jr. swagger down. Did you hear he stole his costume so he could visit kids in the hospital as Starr Lord?
Marcus: No! That’s awesome!
Sarah: I did! What a great move. And yeah, you can see how they could push Star-Lord into that Iron Man spot once RDJ moves on.
Matt: Zoe Saladan as Gamora… I think she did great work with a limited role. When I say limited, I mean in regards to something that occurred to me afterward.
Sarah: I was really pleased with Gamora.
Marcus: Yeah. I liked her as Gamora. I would have liked her to be placed in more action sequences as Gamora is pretty much just a bad ass in the comics, but I thought she was the right pick.
Matt: The movie really could have developed her background a little more. We could have had a flashback of her childhood like we did with Quill’s. Instead of her saying “Thanos killed my parents and raised me and that’s why I’m just now switching sides to help you.”
Sarah: And, I’m not sure if either of you read my crazy long essay on how so many of movie superheroines begin as villains, but something I complemented GotG on was the fact that she isn’t a love interest! I mean, a little flirtation, but they’re not a thing by the movie’s end.
Marcus: Saldana is giving me a complex though.
Sarah: [laughs] Why?
Marcus: She’s always an attractive multi-colored alien. Just saying.
Sarah: And speaking of multi-colored alien women, I also like Karen Gillen as Nebula, I liked how petulant she could be, but still there was too little of her.
Marcus: I thought the Thanos aspect of it; creating the feud between Nebula and Gamora and setting up the future conflict was well done.
Matt: Yeah. And Gillan was good as Nebula – bringing great emotion out of another underwritten role.
Sarah: I agree, I just wanted more of Gamora vs Nebula, but at least both survived so surely there’s more of that to come. Let’s see, back to Rocket real quick, though he is by no means all Cooper, he really does nail that vocal performance. I mean, think how many lines he has?!
Matt: Oh yeah. Going back to that D&D metaphor, Rocket and Groot are how most rogues actually get played. “What’s in it for me? What? The world is in danger? Okay, I’ll do this for free… but I will snark about it the whole time.”
Sarah: You’re definitely not wrong to keep calling back to D&D. The group dynamic was established so quickly because I think it is so familiar.
Matt: There’s a mock inspirational poster I saw someone do once with The Avengers cast all labeled with their classes… Hawkeye is the Ranger. Tony is The Sorcerer. Hulk is the Barbaarian… Same dynamic could apply here, but it’s all different kinds of rogues.
Marcus: You kind of get that visually with the slow walking scene before the climax.
Sarah: Oh yeah, they all think very highly of themselves. With perhaps the exception of Groot. Man, who knew that character would translate so well to a movie!
Matt: And speaking of D&D… Vin Desel. I never thought any actor could get that much mileage out of three words.
Marcus: I loved Groot. So amazing that so much can be conveyed in three words and facial expressions.
Sarah: Have you seen the video of him saying “I am Groot” in different languages?
Matt: ICH BIN GROOT!
Marcus: I honestly feel like Vin Diesel isn’t worth discussing. Since his voice was augmented and he had two basic lines. It was clearly a name-drop situation for Marvel Studios, to me.
Matt: I disagree. Vin has never been that big of a name, despite working steadily.
Marcus: I think he’s a huge action flick name.
Sarah: I would also argue his casting had something to do with his previous performance as the Iron Giant, another large character who speaks few words, yet still manages to have an impactful performance. But no doubt there was some manipulation done to his voice, Nathan Fillion’s, too, for that cameo in the prison.
Matt: Speaking as someone who has done a little voice work, you may be able to auto-tune a singer into something decent but you can’t enhance an actor’s delivery to make them better.
Marcus: I think that Groot’s performance is in the visual representation however. Unlike Gamora or Quill.
Sarah: Well, they did use Diesel for some facial mo-capping, so again, while it’s performance isn’t all him – just like Gollum or Caesar are never all Andy Serkis – I stick to Diesel being a part of what made Groot so memorable.
Matt: I think we have to talk about the music.
Sarah: Definitely! Has there ever been a superhero movie that used its soundtrack better?
Matt: I can’t think of many movies that have used their soundtrack better. And again, this is a hallmark of James Gunn’s movies. The first movie of his I saw was The Specials, and there is one scene that seems totally pointless that involves some of the characters just suddenly breaking into a dance routine to this cheesy 70s song in the middle of a club. Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me).
Sarah: So, add another plus in the box for allowing directors to play to their strengths. Man… why did Marvel and Edgar Wright have that falling out!? Why!?
Marcus: While it was noticeable, I thought the music blended very well into everything.
Matt: What I am wondering – and I want to go back to see the movie with a track listing now to check this – is if there is some symbolic representation to the music used in each scene.
Sarah: Oh I’m sure there is! And the soundtrack not only fit perfectly with the tone of the movie but it worked as a part of the story, too, since it was all music Quill brought with him
Matt: Yeah… if I may give a minor spoiler/fan theory.
Sarah: Go for it.
Matt: Okay. First song in the movie that we hear Peter listening to on Earth is “I’m Not In Love”. That could be two things.
1. A description of the relationship between Peter’s mom and dad. The song is told from the perspective of someone insisting their relationship is casual and meaningless while noting, “you’ll wait a long time for me” in the chorus. Which does pretty much describe what happened between his parents in the comics.
2. The song is also about rejecting love to seem tougher, which is pretty much what Quill does most of his life, all starting with him refusing to take his mom’s hand as she is dying.
Sarah: Well, for a less insightful observation, it’s “Cherry Bomb” during the big aerial battle. [laughs] But you’re definitely on to something, music that is so in your face, or in your ears I guess, isn’t there just because it sounds cool. There’s a purpose.
Matt: I loved the after credits bit. Which I totally did not see coming.
Marcus: The after credits bit was, to me, frustrating.
Sarah: Howard the Duck? I still haven’t seen it because I had an early screening without the scene, but I’ve read up on it. It sounds funny, and totally in line with this film and its humor, but I can see how it is frustrating because Marvel has groomed us to expect some big teaser at the end of every movie. And Horward the Duck was not that.
Marcus: To me it’s so esoteric.
Matt: … or is it!?!?!? I personally would love for them to do a Howard the Duck movie and do it right. And hell! Given that they made GotG, why couldn’t they?
Marcus: Sure, but how many Marvel movie fans, those people who jumped on at Iron Man and are only there because, “Hey, the movies are really good,” will be like, “Oh! I can wait to get me some Howard the Duck!”
Sarah: The Days of Future Past Apocalypse ending had a lot of people saying WTF too, but I realize Howard the Duck’s not the same because there’s nothing coming from it.
Marcus: I guess I see it from the perspective of someone who’s read the comics most his life. Apocalypse isn’t obscure because he’s been a huge part of some huge comic events. Howard the Duck was cool in the late 70’s and 80’s, and shows up in one or two issues within the last 10 years.
Sarah: Okay, here’s a quote from a Forbes article I’d like to throw in here as our last topic because it kind of fits with this:
“This debut, an original space opera starring a cast of mostly [non-stars] proves two things. First it means that there is no summer slump. Audiences will flock to theaters if the film debuting is something they all want to see. Second, it means that Marvel can do whatever it wants now. So if they choose not to make a female-centric or minority-centric superhero film, it’s because they just don’t want to.”
Is Marvel unstoppable? Can they make whatever they want? And if so, what’s they’re excuse for never making x, y, and z?
Matt: I’ll agree with that 100%. If we don’t hear an announcement for Captain Marvel with Katie Sackoff in the next year, heads should be placed on pikes at the House of Ideas.
Sarah: Right!? I know it’s an argument that is being beaten to death, but seriously Marvel, where’s our movie not lead by a white guy?
Matt: Black Panther in 2016!
Matt: The only thing I have left to say in conclusion about GotG is that this movie did the impossible and madet the Nova Corps seem interesting.
Sarah: Though again, I’m sure big fans of the Nova Corps will say this movie only scratched the surface, but that’s all right. It wasn’t their movie. Which is funny when I think back to those rumors of Fillion playing Nova.
Matt: Or voicing Cosmo, the Space Dog.
Marcus: I had low expectations of the movie and was quite impressed with it. I think there are flaws in it, but those flaws only make it that much more entertaining.
Matt: I expected it to be funny and it turned out to have a good action movie attached to the funny bits.
Sarah: GotG was a big risk for them, but one that is definitely paying off. I can only hope they take this to heart and in the future won’t feel like they have to play it safe by always using the characters people expect them to.
Marcus: And I loved baby dancing Groot.
Sarah: Baby Groot was the best!
Matt: We need a dancing baby Groot toy.
Marcus: I really want Marvel merchandising to make one of those dancing flower pots with Groot in it.
Sarah: I bet we’ve only seen the beginning of GotG merchandising. Now that it’s such a hit they’ll be churning all sorts of stuff out.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the unlikely hit of the summer and after its record breaking opening weekend, these A-holes show no signs of stopping. And while Marcus, Matt, and Sarah didn’t entirely agree on everything (with the exception of a dancing baby Groot) they still all enjoyed the flick. What did you think of Guardians of the Galaxy? A wild ride or a nonsensical, sci-fi disaster? Let us hear from you in the comments!