Earlier this year, the internet seemed to take a mere 2 minutes and 30 seconds to collectively get hooked on a feeling for Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, or at least I assume as much based upon the countless euphoric reactions I saw to the film’s first trailer. It’s not hard to see why. That trailer was a masterful piece of marketing, taking complete ownership of any “No one’s even heard of these characters. So, why are you making this movie?” criticisms by making that the focal point. Haven’t heard of these characters? Well, our trailer is going to have a literal Usual Suspects-esque line-up sequence where someone explains who every single character is. Don’t think the movie should have been made to begin with, not before other Marvel comic book characters with richer histories like Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel? Our trailer is going to totally lean into that, making it apparent that not even the other characters in the film have one iota of respect for the so-called “Guardians of the Galaxy.” In fact, the button of the trailer is just a side character referring to the “Guardians” as a bunch of assholes.
Boom. We know exactly who these people are now. In fact, they actually seem kind of similar. As THR pointed out at:
The names, of course, are different, as are the costumes. When it comes to personalities, however, the trailer sets out to reassure: Is there a Tony Stark-like snarky lead? Check. Black Widow-like deadly female lead? Yup, and this time she’s a green alien for all the Star Trek fans out there. What about a Hulk-esque big bruiser? Yes, there’s one of those, with added tragic backstory. Admittedly, the raccoon and tree dude appear to be something else, but let’s face it — we have no idea whether or not Captain America fantasizes about being a gun-toting furry mammal (Thor’s definitely Groot-esque, though).
Plus, you’ve now made these characters (and, by extension, your entire movie) into underdogs. We should want to root for them, right?
However, I know someone who purposefully avoided that lauded trailer due to a general disinterest in the property based upon an intense hatred for the cameo of Guardians character The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) in Thor: The Dark World. When this person was made a captive audience at a screening of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which obviously showed the Guardians trailer as part of the previews, she was in no way won over by Marvel’s nifty marketing. For her, Guardians represented a line in the comic book sand she simply could not cross. It may seem arbitrary, but a talking CGI tree and raccoon as major characters is just too far her to take from her comic book movies.
In that same vein, last November, Vulture looked at the comic book history of Benicio Del Toro’s Collector (as well as Thanos) and wondered, “These Marvel movies all started with Iron Man fighting Jeff Bridges in some bulky robot suit. Now, the villains predate the universe and are legit threats to wipe out not a city or a country or a planet or even a solar system but all of existence.” Are we ready for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to get really weird, and far more, well, comic book-y? It probably helps to think of this as more of a space opera than comic book movie, less Captain America, more Star Wars, but as someone who’s never exactly had a thirst for space opera (e.g., I like, but don’t love Star Wars) just because Guardians is a film set in space is not enough to pique my interest.
Sensing this continued resistance, Marvel’s second Guardians of the Galaxy trailer had fun with introducing some extended looks at its CGI creations (Rocket Raccoon, Groot) as well as its main villains (Ronan). However, they maintained the irreverent tone of the marketing to this point by again finishing with a line of dialogue serving to kind of disempower their critics, John C. Reilly’s character stating the obvious, “This might not be the best idea” (Check out this earlier article for a more thorough discussion of why Guardians is such a big risk for Marvel).
A LOT has gone down in the Marvel Studios world since that trailer came out, though. Edgar Wright has walked away from Ant-Man, which Kevin Feige now has the misfortune of forever being quoted as once saying was a film they were only making because of Wright’s “vision.” Marvel eventually landed a replacement director and writer, but not until an embarrassing parade of reports of directors turning the gig down because, unlike Brett Ratner with X-Men: The Last Stand, not everyone is comfortable with just being a shooter hired to get a film done in an impossibly short amount of time. There were reports that a contributing factor to the whole mess was that Marvel had already gone so far outside of its comfort zone with Guardians of the Galaxy that Wright’s undoubtedly quirky take on Ant-Man suddenly seemed too big of a risk, even if Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to come out between the two films and probably gross $1 billion worldwide (unless it really, really stinks).
Now we come to today’s all new international trailer for Guardians only to find that, for whatever reason, they’ve decided this was the time to finally make an incredibly traditional trailer. In fact, the dang lead leads off with a tired old, though still likely effective, cliche, “From the Studio That Brought You Iron Man, Captain America, Thor & Avengers Assemble Comes a Whole New Galaxy.” What progresses after that is, not surprisingly, centered around the film’s human hero (well, technically half-human) Star-Lord (Chris Pratt):
After all this, does Guardians of the Galaxy look like a film worth seeing? I don’t know that I’d say yes in response to this new international trailer, which is far more generic, even with that last joke with Rocket and Star-Lord. However, by all accounts the film’s tone is going to be more in line with the funny, earlier trailers, and as a huge Parks & Recreation fan I feel duty-bound to support Chris Pratt’s transition to action star.
As a kid of the ’90s, I still get unfortunate flashes of Lost in Space (1998), Battlefield Earth (2000), and Supernova (2000) when approaching Hollywood’s next big budget, sci-fi film, and there are certain design elements with Guardians that still make me think, “That’s kind of how that looked in a really bad, futuristic sci-fi film I once saw.” So, I remain unhooked on Guardians of the Galaxy‘s feeling, but I was absolutely wrong about Thor. I look forward to Marvel Studios making me a fan of yet another ostensibly silly-sounding concept.
Guardians of the Galaxy is due to drop in the U.S. on August 1, 2014.
What about you? Are you hooked on Marvel’s feeling? Still not sure how this film is going to turn out? Just want to see more of Rocket Raccoon and Groot? Let us know in the comments.