Marvel Movie Club: Debating the Guardians of the Galaxy characters
As we count down to the long-awaited uber-team-up Avengers: Infinity War (out April 27), EW’s Marvel Movie Club is preparing by revisiting the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in the weeks leading up to the mega-sized movie. EW will revisit one Marvel movie a week, every week, to reassess its powers and hopefully answer important questions along the way like “What was The Incredible Hulk?” “Does Nick Fury wash his eye-patch?” and “Is there a point to Hawkeye?” This week, Chancellor Agard and EW correspondent Dana Schwartz evaluate the titular guardians of Guardians of the Galaxy.
James Gunn’s 2014 space-opera Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most beloved Marvel movies, and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s bright, nerdy, funny, and, at least on the surface, feels unlike the other Marvel Movies that came before it, mostly due to its ’70s soundtrack which electrified most of the action. It took us deeper into space, light-years away from anything remotely connected to the Earth-bound Avengers, and made us fall in love with a new band of misfits and outlaws: Star-Lord, Thanos’ daughter Gamora, mouthy bounty-hunter Rocket, the very literal Drax, and everyone’s favorite sentient space tree, Groot.
With that in mind, my colleague Dana Schwartz and I decided to evaluate the titular heroes in order to figure out which one is best. While we disagreed on who was No. 1, we did agree that it definitely wasn’t Star-Lord. Read on below to find out the outcome.
CHANCELLOR AGARD: Dana, thank you for joining me this week to dig into Guardians of the Galaxy and, hopefully, crown the best Guardian. My pick for No. 1 is easily Gamora (Zoë Saldana), who, from the moment the movie begins, is the only one with any kind of common-sense and maturity. Like if I were in trouble, I would call her because this badass assassin clearly knows how to get stuff done. She begins the movie with a concrete plan, and if it weren’t for Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot’s (Vin Diesel) interference, she could’ve easily pilfered the Power Stone from Star-Lord and sold it to the Collector, thereby stopping the entire movie from happening. Dana, in your opinion, which Guardian is best? (I swear to god if you say Baby Groot…)
DANA SCHWARTZ: You know, what? I’ll shake things up and go with Groot, Sr. He is by FAR the most valuable member of the team, and saves their collective asses on upwards of two occasions (they needed him in the prison!). Literally no other member of the team would have been selfless enough to LITERALLY DIE for the group. And he’s the most mysterious. Gamora is great, but especially in the first movie they didn’t write her further than “sassy female love interest.” Like, we get it — male writers think strong female characters have ponytails and wear black leather and take no shit.
CHANCELLOR: Okay, that’s definitely fair, especially about the selfless part. I will say, though, that Gamora’s “pelvic sorcery” line is quite possibly my favorite line in the entire movie. I’m going to spend the next year looking for (and failing to find) an opportunity to use pelvic sorcery in something I write.
While we disagree on who the best Guardian is, we can definitely agree that it’s definitely not Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. When I rewatched Guardians this week, I found myself way less enamored with Peter, even though he’s responsible for the most charming moment of the film (the opening “Come and Get Your Love” dance sequence). It’s like, I get it, you’re sarcastic and a smart aleck. Is there anything else to you? Dana, why didn’t Peter make it as your No. 1? Also, who is your second favorite Guardian, and why?
DANA: Here’s my main problem with Peter Quill — he is SO OBVIOUSLY just a stand-in for the typical Marvel viewer. They all imagine that they look like Chris Pratt, they love ’80s nostalgia (see: Ready Player One) and they like to think of themselves as that too-cool-for-school smart aleck.
He is a good dancer, I will give him that. I hate to be boring, but Gamora is my No. 2 mostly because at least with Thanos she gets an interesting backstory. Drax (Dave Bautista) is so boring. I don’t even think his shtick is funny. Why is Drax in this movie?
CHANCELLOR: Drax! So, I’m actually quite torn about Drax. On the one hand, I still think the schtick is funny, especially this time around. “Why would I put my finger on his throat?” “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it,” and several other lines still made me chuckle. I think Drax’s literal-mindedness makes him very endearing. On the other hand, I find his entire quest for revenge rather boring because revenge is cliché motivation for a character, and here, it leads him to do something stupid by summoning Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to Knowhere. In the end, I’d rank him as my fourth favorite Guardian.
The No. 3 spot obviously has to go to the prosthetics-obsessed Rocket (Groot is my second favorite). I think the best part about Rocket is how you can’t even tell it’s Bradley Cooper doing the voice — or at least I can’t. I find it distracting whenever well-known actors voice animated roles; however, every time I watch Guardians I’m always kind of surprised that Cooper is behind the character. Furthermore, even though this movie feels like it’s more concerned with lolz than pathos, I will say Cooper really sells the fact that Rocket was traumatized by all of the torturous experiments that created him when he finally explodes about the name-calling. Where does Rocket rank for you?
DANA: I think my order goes Groot, Gamora, Rocket, then Starlord, then Drax. Rocket is just so annoying to me, although I will totally agree with you that Bradley Cooper DISAPPEARS into this role. Even fully listening for his voice, I can’t identify it and I usually kill at identifying celebrity voices in animated movies (Fantastic Mr. Fox was torture.)
I know I’m supposed to find him funny, but Rocket really has never made me laugh. His one redeeming quality is how much he loves and protects Groot, which is my favorite thing. I maybe want the whole team to be just them? Riding around and solving mysteries? How is there not a Rocket/Groot prequel show? (Yes, I am vaguely aware that this briefly existed as a miniseries but I mean a good actual TV show that we all watch.) And you know what? Screw the TV show and just make the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie about them.
Speaking of not being able to identify actors, I LOVE Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies 4lyf) and I can barely pick him out under all of that blue makeup. Why couldn’t they have used him more? Why is his character so boring and forgettable?
CHANCELLOR: If Marvel ever decided to bring back those short films, I would watch one about Groot and Rocket.
But let’s talk about Lee Pace: Ronan the Accuser is hands down the weakest part of this very enjoyable movie for a number of reasons. First, his motivation is very bland, and thus forgettable. I completely forgot that he was intent on blowing up Xandar because of some treaty or whatever. I actually don’t understand it that much, but I don’t think I need to because at the end of the day he just wants the glowing purple thing (which is professional speak for the Power Stone, one of the Infinity Stones) to destroy something. Second, at the end of the day, he’s just a lackey for Thanos and never gets a real opportunity to shine as a villain. That being said, it’s amazing that, at least in my opinion, the movie still works in spite of how lame this villain is.
Next Week: Chancellor and EW’s Christian Holub tackle Avengers: Age of Ultron.