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6 reasons ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ isn’t just a fun movie, but an important one

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Sept. 7 2014 9:40 p.m. MDT

Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) in “Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Marvel

What could have been a colossal misstep for Marvel has instead become one of its biggest successes, thanks in no small part to the oddball relationship between a gun-toting raccoon and a sentient tree.

Last weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy” overtook “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “The Lego Movie” to become the highest-grossing domestic release of the year, according to Box Office Mojo.

It even earned praise from Marvel stablemate Robert Downey Jr., who told the Toronto Sun, “In some ways, (‘Guardians’) is the best Marvel movie ever.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a lot more than just a good superhero movie, though. It’s actually kind of groundbreaking for a number of reasons, and it represents an important next step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s long-term plans — including, apparently, complete box-office domination.

Here are six reasons “Guardians” isn’t just fun, but a turning point.

1. It proves the value of the Marvel logo

Without question, “Guardians of the Galaxy” has been the biggest test of Marvel’s brand value to date.

Unlike Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and Captain America, the motley band of D-list characters that make up the Guardians of the Galaxy — a comic series that wasn’t widely known even among a lot of comic fans before Marvel decided to turn it into a movie — was not in and of itself a draw for audiences.

Moreover, the space opera genre was something that was pretty far from Marvel’s wheelhouse. And the director, James Gunn, wasn’t exactly a safe bet, either.

The only thing “Guardians” had going for it was the Marvel name.

Speaking with Film School Rejects the day before the movie opened in theaters, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said, “ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is the 10th film (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). This felt like the time to go, ‘Well, let’s see if that red logo above the title can draw people in.’ It’s like how the Pixar logo draws me in. I mean, there’s a rat in the Paris kitchen? What is that? You’re telling me there’s an old man with balloons? Oh, it’s Pixar? Let’s go.”

Judging by the audience reactions, the gamble paid off. Marvel’s name may be all it takes to sell a movie.

Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC that “Guardians” shows that “the Marvel brand has arrived."

He added, “ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and Marvel is a wonderful story. We believe that when we bought Marvel in 2009 they had great intellectual property, great characters, great stories and a very talented group of people working for them. We did not think that the spotlight had been put on the Marvel brand, and we thought, with their continued success, especially in terms of producing movies, and with Disney as a partner, or with them being part of Disney, we could burnish the Marvel brand. I think we’ve done a good job of that. I don’t mean to sound overly conceited about it, but I think 'Guardians of the Galaxy' speaks volumes in that regard."

2. It proves Marvel doesn’t need stars

Sure, “Guardians of the Galaxy” does feature a few big-name actors like Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper. But almost as if to prove a point, not only do neither of them ever physically appear onscreen, Diesel’s character only says the same three words over and over while Cooper speaks in a voice that, if you didn’t know it was him beforehand, you’d never recognize.

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