Guardians of the Galaxy: They’re Selling This.

Hi. Remember me? It’s been awhile since we last talked.

No, this probably doesn’t herald my return to any sort of regular posting on the Show, but I have something to discuss. It’s about two prior articles I wrote here. Those articles were all about how a couple of big movies seemed to be really dropping the ball in terms of marketing themselves. As a result, one still did okay at the box office, and one flopped. But enough about them. This is all about how I’m currently being blown away by a certain movie in production that so far seems to be doing everything right.

I’m talking about Guardians of the Galaxy, the upcoming Marvel Studios movie which on paper seems fucking insane in terms of trying to market to a mainstream audience. This is a movie starring comic book characters so obscure even Marvel nerds know next to nothing about them, which includes me. Of everyone involved I knew about Rocket Raccoon from one of my old Handbooks of the Marvel Universe collections, and that’s about it. I suppose it feels oddly refreshing in a way, since I can approach the material from a true “Why should I give a fuck about this?” standpoint.

I had no feelings about this movie. I barely registered it was in production. In short, I think I was pretty close to the case study of “average moviegoer”, except for the fact that I rarely go see movies in theaters anymore.

Enter the first trailer:

There’s a fine line being walked here. One of the Show’s biggest criticisms of the DC/WB films is how embarassed they seem to be that they’re adaptations of comic books, so why does this trailer get a pass on its snarkiness? Good question. I think for me it’s because the Nolanverse (now Snyderverse) feels oh so goddamned serious about itself, while this has a sense of quirky fun to it. Later I found out James Gunn of Slither and The Specials was directing and that was it, they had my money, but this “usual suspects” style line-up was ingenious. Who are these characters you haven’t heard of? Here, let us introduce them to you. Oh and those of you who do know who they are? Go ahead and pause on the readouts and you’ll find a whole bunch of easter eggs showing that we did our research and know our shit. We know the average moviegoer doesn’t know or care that Rocket Raccoon has a talking otter girlfriend named Lylla, but we’re going to list her as one of his known associates anyhow. You’re welcome.

Speaking of which:

What? WHAT? “YOU’RE WELCOME”?! Marvel you gloriously insane bastards, do you really think you can get away with throwing a bunch of weird unknown characters on a poster and acting like you’re doing the moviegoing public, nay, the world, a favor? You think you can just get them in seats based on your track record so far? You…

Oh fuck. You might be right. There are actually quite a few people out there who at this point are willing to throw their money at any movie with the Marvel branding on it. But to call attention to that takes some enormous balls. You do realize your parent company took “Of Mars” off of John Carter’s title because they worried about antagonizing audiences, right? Focus groups would be appalled at this entire concept to begin with, much less advertising like this. Where did these balls come from? Why are you waving them at me, and why do I like it so much?

At least it’s still kind of a boring poster, so I can still go with my bitching that no one gives a shit about posters anymore. Yep, I admire the balls on display, sirs and madames, but–

Oh my god, stop it. I already told you I was going to see the movie, but you give me a poster like this? It’s no Struzan masterpiece, but compared to all the afterthought dreck that passes for posters in Our Modern Era it might as well be. It stands out from its brethren, and more importantly conveys a very simple visual message:

“Hey you? You fuckin’ like Star Wars? This movie’s gonna be like Star Wars.”

Let’s face it, that message still works even on those of us who suffered the stinging disappointment of the prequels. It might even work better because that little kid in us is still wanting desperately to recapture the magic and wonder we felt back then. If John Carter had a poster like this going for it I think it could have at least boasted a decent opening weekend before word got out that it was not, in fact, like Star Wars.

But they weren’t done with Clint yet, oh no. They had to drop one more trailer on me.

I believe this trailer was designed for anyone who worried that the movie was going to be all snark and comedy and wink-wink-isn’t-this-stupid. Its beginning moments now establish that “Star Lord” is from Earth (audience connection) and is not just a joke. Maybe he’s not as famous as he thinks, but he’s zapping fools without breaking stride and making a pretty awesome getaway courtesy of good reflexes and some well-timed jet boots. Now he’s got echoes of Mal Reynolds and Han Solo, both of whom had their share of screw-ups and plans gone awry, but that just seemed to make their moments of awesomeness even more awesome. Peter Quill is not just going to be Andy Dwyer in space. Scoff all you want, but he’ll be the one running off with the MacGuffin. I’m not just identifying with this guy now, I want to be this guy.

Again there’s a lot here for freeze frame purposes to please the true nerds (people have been obsessively dissecting that tape deck dashboard with its scratch n’ sniff stickers and Garbage Pail Kids cards that all denote without saying that Peter Quill was snatched from Earth sometime in the 1980’s). The plot is barely touched on still because you don’t need to know about its specifics, you just need to know there’s a ragtag bunch of misfits out to save the galaxy. There’s cool spaceships and aliens and guns and… look, just pay your money and lie back and let the Space Opera happen, we’re gonna take care of you. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a trailer and seen something in it that genuinely made me go “Whaaat?” in wonderment, but the giant alien skull in space did that for me. It didn’t hurt that my boy Peter Quill almost immediately echoed my sentiments.

Total nerd bonus: turns out that’s no skull… it’s a space station. Named Knowhere. Displayed right before the latter half of the text declaring “ALL HEROES… START SOMEWHERE”. Fucking nerds made this trailer. It knows more about the movie than I do. That would be a weird thing to say except you can’t tell me you watch a trailer for something like Battleship and feel like it’s not showing you everything you can expect. The GotG trailer is smarter than me, but thankfully isn’t being an asshole about it. The only reason I have that revelation is because I went and looked it up.

Guardians of the Galaxy could be my biggest disappointment of 2014, but only because the marketing so far is doing everything right. I started out with an indifferent shrug, and now I’m all but rabid for August 1st. I want to hope and believe that a whole fuckton of other people, of all ages and genders, will come along for the ride.

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About Clint

Clint Wolf is an opinionated nerd, who writes a comic (Zombie Ranch) about cowboys who wrangle zombies. We didn't claim he made sense. http://cwolf.zxq.net/
This entry was posted in Armchair Philosophy, Nerd Alert, Projected Pixels and Emulsion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Guardians of the Galaxy: They’re Selling This.

  1. James Haus says:

    As a nerd who’s read through the series the movie is cribbed from several times, I’m also very excited and equally flabbergasted that they’re doing it at all. Even though I love it, I always understood it was kind of a niche market even among marvel fans. Which isn’t to say there isn’t lamentable material in the comic version, but there’s fun and weird stuff too (like the raccoon and groot and the floating alien head in space) and it’s so cool that they’ve actually managed to translate the fun, weird stuff. Looking forward to this one a great deal. Assuming Disney will chop it off at the knees now that they have Star Wars though.

    • Ken says:

      The issue is that Disney needs more characters in their “Marvel” lineup. They can’t use the Fantastic Four or the X-Men (or Spider-Man) because other studios still have the rights to those (note how Cap2 has “scepter creations” rather than mutants). So they need to dig into other Marvel continuities, and I’m sure nobody wants to try to do downers like the Skrull saga in the Marvel movie universe, so it’s Thanos and the Kree.

      What will be interesting is if they bring in Captain Marvel, which I hope they do.

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