Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Hey, We’re All Friends Here

For those of you don’t know, I’ve been challenged by a friend to watch all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before watching Avengers: Infinity War, hopefully before it goes out of theaters.

So far, what a wild ride it’s been. And, by the time I’m done, I think I’ll need a small break from superhero movies, please. But it’s been a mostly fascinating experience, especially since I know enough about Infinity War to know about the Infinity Gauntlet and now the Infinity Stones. Seeing how all this fits into the same universe has been extremely enlightening and probably something I’ll talk about at the very end, after watching Infinity War.

So at the very end of Thor: The Dark World, the ether is put into a container and given to a strange looking man played by Benecio del Toro and called The Collector. Obviously because it was Benecio, I took a guess that we’d probably see him again. Big name = big part, typically. And he says something to the effect of, “That’s two. Only four more to go.” I don’t remember if he used the term “Infinity Stones” at this time, but that’s what I was guessing. I was also guessing that he was going to give the Infinity Stones to Thanos. Could be — but then again, is there another player here?

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we learn that Hydra has Loki’s scepter from the failed invasion of New York in the original Avengers movie. They are definitely leading up to something here. Plus since, Cap was going after Bucky, I’d expect to see Bucky again later as well.

But that’s not what this is about. Well, it kinda is, but then again, it kinda isn’t.

We start Guardians of the Galaxy with Peter’s mom holding out her hand to him while she is dying and Peter refusing to take it (for whatever reasons a 10–11 year old would have to do that). When she dies, he runs out of the hospital and is abducted by aliens. We learn later that the aliens are supposed to deliver him to another person, but instead, they took him on as a member of their crew.

When we first see Peter Quill aka “StarLord,” he’s walking on an alien landscape and ends up stealing a silver orb. We find out later what’s in the orb.

Ronan, a Kree (species) who’s angry with the planet Xandar, promised Thanos that he would get the orb for him as long as Thanos destroys Xandar for him. The way they put it here, before we realize it’s a planet, it sounds like the name of a person — then we see that it isn’t and it becomes much more of a big deal. Two of Thanos’s daughters, Gamora and Nebula, have been lent to Ronan to ensure that this happens.

When Quill takes the orb to the broker instead of Yondu (the captain of the ship who abducted him and his ‘foster’ father), the broker ends up backing out of the deal. Later when Yondu goes to the same broker, once threatened by Yondu’s whistling arrow, he tells him everything, what the orb is, and I’m assuming who wants to buy it, which turns out to be Ronan.

All orbs and stones seem to be looking for a route to Thanos. I’m not 100% percent sure of who Thanos actually is besides a backer to Loki’s war on Earth in The Avengers. From what we do learn in the movie, he’s not a very nice guy. He’s strong and powerful, more powerful than most people/aliens/whatever. But I personally don’t know much about him other than that and he’s looking for the Infinity Stones.

Fighting occurs. Gamora tries to take the orb from Quill and fails and Nova Core, the governing body on Xandar, arrests them all. Then we see the scenes that made the trailer. We get a short introductory background on each of the characters, Gamora (one of Thanos’s daughters), Rocket (a cyber-raccoon with a chip on his shoulder), Groot (a tree-like species that can only say ‘I am Groot’ and who is only understood by Rocket), and Quill (a Terran with an unknown background/history).

Then the prison scene and more fighting. We learn that Rocket’s got a gift for planning heists, like breaking out of prison. Here is where we pick up Drax, a person who’s species lends itself to immense scarification all over their bodies. All he wants to do is to kill Ronan who killed his wife and daughter on their planet years ago.

It’s during these scenes that I realize exactly who Gamora is. She’s Thanos’s daughter! Yes, I’ve said that already, but she’s not only Thanos’s daughter but when we find out what she wants to do with the orb, it’s to disobey Ronan and Thanos and give the orb to another buyer, hopefully keeping it out of Ronan and Thanos’s hands.

Then we find out Gamora’s buyer is the Collector. During this scene, we see that the Collector even has a dark elf curled up in a specimen jar from Thor: The Dark World whom I’m guessing is probably Malekith. From that movie, we know that this would be the third Infinity Stone he’d have — and, naturally, he’d want all six for himself. My thoughts were that he’d sell them to Thanos, but I think I would doubt that now. After all, he’s called the Collector, right? Not the Seller :)

Here, we learn the history of the Infinity Stones along with actually seeing the power and draw of just one of them, the purple on that’s in Quill’s orb.

It’s interesting that, with this movie being so different from the others in the MCU, there’s so much information in it that leads up to Infinity War, especially with the idea that this gets the information out to people who wouldn’t necessarily go to the other movies. So they’re already trying to draw their audience. I don’t know about Avengers: Age of Ultron but that’s today’s watch. Probably.

And escape from planet and Ronan scene, then on to Quill’s plan to destroy Ronan and get the orb back scene.

Yes, I skipped over the romance scene. I know the idea was that Peter was going to sacrifice himself to save Gamora, but did he do it because he loved her? Well, I think my needle has dropped back to cynicism — part of it is that I think he knew that Yondu would save him or, at least, had a pretty good idea that Yondu would save him. He’s not had enough time with Gamora to actually “love” her, but the very fact that he was willing to try and save her life, knowing his own would be on the line does say something about him, whether or not it speaks to his real feelings about her. I have to admit — I don’t know if I’d risk my life just for an attractive person if there wasn’t some kind of emotion behind it. I guess I’m not as cynical as I once was after all.

So, through the battle scene. I thought Ronan might have been a better villain if he’d had a backstory — any at all would have been great. Oh, and it kills me that this was Lee Pace who also played King Thranduil in The Hobbit movies. He looks so different here.

Ronan figures out that it’s an Infinity Stone that is in the orb and puts it in his hammer. But when his ship crashes on Xandar and he loses the stone from the hammer, Peter reaches it in the air first and holds on to it, taking all the energy and power into himself — or around himself even. I think this was the first real clue as to his heritage — but that’s only because I’ve seen the second movie. I loved that Gamora reached out to him to help him control some of that power along with Rocket and Drax. To see them all willing to take on the burden of power along with Quill really says something about their bond as friends.

I have to mention Groot. I know Vin Diesel supposedly spent hours in the studio recording the words “I am Groot.” It’s amazing how much inflection he could put into just those three little words and make it sound different each time. I liked that only Rocket could understand him, but every time Rocket explained what Groot said, it definitely felt more like dialogue.

Groot is probably the closest to being selfless in the whole bunch. Yes, he wants paid his share of the take, but he’s also the one who sees the beauty in little things, like the flower he gave the little girl. The firefly scene always makes me yearn for home, West Virginia, because fireflies don’t live in colder climates. So I know my friend who challenged me probably hasn’t seen a field of fireflies and I simply long to go back home and see the field out side my parents’ house filled with the tiny blinking lights of ‘lightning bugs,’ as we call them at home.

Groot’s security cage he grows around the team is filled with more love than Quill’s sacrificing his life for Gamora. Sure, they both sacrificed their lives — but Peter was pretty sure he would be saved while Groot knew that, by sacrificing his life, he would save his friends. I don’t believe in altruism because Groot’s sacrifice had a purpose — it was to save his friends. And that was more important to him than his own life.

Baby Groot, of course, is adorable.

I’m gonna cheat here for a minute and just agree at the poingancy of the scene where Rocket is crying over Groot, Drax sits down and pets him to comfort him while Rocket has no idea how to accept that simple act of kindless. Drax wasn’t trying to belittle him, to treat him like an inferior, but to comfort him, and I think that’s what Rocket realized when he started but then settled back down.

I think sometimes we all are like Rocket, a bit prickly on the outside, not really looking at the goodness in other people. Others may be saying things that you don’t realize they’re saying but instead saying the opposite of them. Sometimes you have to let your guard down, as much as it hurts.

Yondu and his first in command mentioned something about they were glad they didn’t deliver Quill to whoever it was who wanted him. I think this so far has been said a couple of times. Nova Core on Xandar, who now has the purple Infinity Stone, says that they checked Quill’s DNA and that he was only half-Terran, the rest, something ancient they’d never seen before. So Vol. 2 is already being set up at the end of the movie.

The Howard the Duck cameo after the credits is simply awesome.

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Kari J. Wolfe

Never-ending student in the realms of writing fiction/nonfiction and telling stories. Hopeless wannabe equestrian learning from a distance.