A lot of internet scuttlebutt about Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy up to now has focused on the “risky” nature of this space adventure – because, apparently, we have no trouble buying the existence of superheroes but aliens are a bit beyond the pale. Well, by the looks of this full trailer for the film, it’s less of a risk and more of a romp, with Chris Pratt leading us on a joyous flit through the galaxy of James Gunn’s comic space adventure. So what did we learn? Read on and find out…
Here’s Chris Pratt as Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, our (anti)hero. He’s a scoundrel, but hopes that we’ll like him because he’s a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in our lives. That nifty mask, useful both for hiding one’s identity and for protection in combat situations, cleverly folds out from devices behind his ears; you can see a small red light there even when the mask is fully disassembled.
Djimon Hounsou, seen here in his guise as dogged bounty hunter Korath, originally auditioned for the role of Drax The Destroyer. Then he met Dave Bautista, who beat him to the role, saw just how big the guy was and realised why he didn’t get it. There's a happy ending here, with Hounsou employed as a henchman to Lee Pace’s Ronan The Accuser (more on him later) and accompanied by Sakaaran (unfriendly alien race) minions of his own. We rather like Korath’s nifty blue contacts and stylish plate armour. Clearly a Game Of Thrones fan. Here, in a clip we’ve already seen, he confronts Quill as the latter tries to collect a mysterious object known as the Orb (the movie’s McGuffin, basically) from an ancient-looking temple.
Here’s where we see how Quill made it this far in a hostile galaxy. As Korath attempts to shoot him he falls backwards, Neo-style, ignites rockets in his boots and flies out through the hole in the wall that Korath has just blasted. Then it’s off across a satisfyingly-alien looking landscape to the dubious safety of his ship, The Milano, with Korath and comrades in pursuit. The desperate leap in the last slide here is one of the most satisfyingly comic-book looking things we’ve seen in ages.
Quill’s ship, and home, is littered with relics from his childhood on Earth (“a planet of outlaws”), before he was abducted and taken away, aged about nine. He has Alf stickers, troll dolls, a catcher’s mitt, trading cards and a Rubik’s Cube there to make him feel at home; everything that was in his backpack when he was taken, basically. He also, of course, had his Walkman, which played a minor role in the Comic-Con footage and which appears again in this trailer. Exterior-wise, Gunn and Marvel brought in Chris Foss, an illustrator of many classic sci-fi novels and a guy who knows his spaceships. He designed many of the ships in the film, in all their frequently-colourful glory.
Flash-forward now to our Avengers heroes, assembled. There’s Zoe Saldana’s Gamora – looking chlorophylly good – Dave Bautista’s Drax and Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. They’re in what looks like a wretched hive of scum and villainy, in what we’re pretty sure is the space station you’ll see later known as Knowhere. That’s a habitat located in the gigantic skull of a dead Celestial, an ancient race who basically originated life and death in the Marvel universe (and gave mutants their powers, by the way) and who were sometimes really, really large. Keep reading for a better look at that.
If we were guessing, we’d guess that this scene is a little earlier, when Quill is captured and taken to the dreaded prison known as the Kiln. The reverse angle on this shows what looks like a prison guard and the same steel construction as the prison, as shown in the Comic-Con footage. Quill doesn’t seem happy, presumably because some utter bastard has nicked his shirt.
Again, if we’re guessing, we’d say that this takes place later in the film: Quill and Groot are together with the gang, they're on a planet that might be Xandar (home of Nova Corps - keep reading) and Quill has got his hands on the small, round McGuffin that everyone is after. Will this prove another of the Infinity Stones? Regular Marvel-ites will remember that the Tesseract, from Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers, and the Aether from Thor: The Dark World, were already described as two of the six Stones in the Dark World sting. These six Stones are (in comics lore) sought by Thanos – glimpsed in the Avengers sting – to make the Infinity Gauntlet and give him insane levels of power. We hope that's all clear. If it is not, please remember not to run straight for the door when the credits roll on a Marvel film.
You have to love any film that has a genetically-engineered raccoon(-like creature, according to Gunn, who denies that he's strictly a raccoon) toting a gun that’s bigger than he is. Rocket, voiced enthusiastically here by Bradley Cooper, has a chip on his shoulder as well as this bazooka thing, and proves rather gung-ho, to put it mildly. Gunn’s on record as saying that the film rises or falls depending on how much the audience loves Rocket, so it’s a good thing he looks so interesting in this trailer. Said Gunn on Facebook recently: “He's a mean little mangled dude with an enormous gun and a very horrible spaceship. Yes, he is badass.”
Here’s a quick hit of Groot throwing henchmen around; Gamora facing off against Karen Gillan’s Nebula (there’s a better shot of that later) and Drax, in the Kiln, facing off against, well, everybody. We suspect that’s secretly the way he likes it.
Lee Pace’s big bad has been variously described – by the actor himself – as a “psycho”, a “monster” or simply as “evil”. Given that actors are usually at pains to find the human side to their characters and emphasise that they're merely misunderstood, this means he must be really bad. A member of the Kree, who are a generally militaristic race and a bit on the imperialist side at the best of times, Ronan’s personal philosophy could not be further removed from the anti-authoritarian Guardians. We predict a clash of cultures and scenes of moderate violence.
Look at the distrust on display here; we’re saying that this is early in the working relationship of the Guardians. The hook that gets them all together is this McGuffin, which they’re all after for different reasons, but it looks like it might not keep them together on this evidence. Also, this is a good look at Drax’s tattoos, although really they’re more like decorative scars. Ouch.
Look at the star shape on the ground here: that’s the symbol associated with Nova Corps, sort of an intergalactic police force who are at best agnostic on the wisdom of working with the Guardians (and at worst liable to arrest them). Their home base is on the sunny planet of Xandar, and it would appear that the Corps, or Xandar, has become an obstacle to Ronan’s plans. How do we know? Because that big black hulking ship in the foreground is his Dark Aster, and it would appear that Xandar is in for a bad day.
That’s Nebula bringing Ronan his weapon of choice, a weird sort of hammer / staff / doorstop. It looks a little like Thor’s hammer, but is self-evidently not as picky about its users. You can also see here that Ronan’s preferred decorative style is “monolithic” or possibly “necromantic”. He’s a guy who has committed to his look in starship décor as well as in fashion.
This is Glenn Close’ Nova Prime (i.e. leader) Irani Rael. When she’s not arranging her hair in an intricate but awesome manner, she is horrified by the prospect of trusting her planet’s defence to a bunch of criminals. Fair point, really. Interestingly, in the comics the planet of Xandar has a “Worldmind” controlled by “Living Computers” that recruit people for Nova Corps when it feels under threat. It also generates “Nova Force” that the Corps can all access, in levels commensurate to their rank, but we’re not sure whether that will translate to the screen. Perhaps it will, since being craze-balls is absolutely no barrier to appearing in this particular comic-book adaptation.
This is Ronan’s flagship (the gigantic black block) releasing a flock of smaller craft called Necrocraft on the planet below. Now “necro” is a root word coming from the Greek for “corpse”, so we’re saying that’s bad news for whoever they’re going after. That, or Ronan's merely hosting a mass funeral and it's all a horrendous misunderstanding.
The Guardians get together in prison – which seems about right – and here they are in prison duds. Given the guns that Quill and Rocket are holding, and the fact that we see a terrified guard after this, this would seem to be part of a prison break. Unless this is a very progressive prison that likes to let the inmates keep up their target practice. That seems unlikely.
This is one of the movie’s coolest locations – and for a film with a real commitment to demented space places, that’s saying something. This is the dead skull of the Celestial we mentioned before, perhaps killed during that race’s war with rivals called the Aspirants. Now, however, it’s a home from home for lots of ne’er-do-wells, shady types and the chronically shy (we assume). The gross little bit of protruding spine is a nice touch, isn’t it?
Here’s a face-on look at Ronan. The trademark cowl is very much present and correct, and the staff / hammer / doorstop appears to be charged and ready to strike. We like to think he modelled his chest on Tony Stark’s (but we doubt it). You get a good look here at the Kree’s fetching blue skin, albeit marred by either facial tattoos or as bad a case of smudged mascara as we’ve ever seen.
Honestly, we don’t know quite what or why this is, but it sure is pretty when Groot lights up a room. Gunn claimed in his facebook Q&A that all the lucky bastards studio types and preview audiences who have seen cuts of the film to date emerge with Groot as their favourite character, and we can sort of believe it. Perhaps this light show is a means of communication for a guy with a three-word vocabulary ("I am Groot", finally heard here courtesy of Vin Diesel), but the last time that a walking plant was associated with pretty lights in the sky it was in John Wyndham's Day Of The Triffids and it blinded the human race so the plants could take over, so possibly the Guardians should shut their eyes quickly or run.
There’s a good tooling-up sequence for Star Lord here, which sees him don his cool red leather coat and fasten a good blaster by his side. One thing worth checking out are his little leg thrusters, apparently built by Quill himself, who likes tinkering with mechanics.
Here is Groot giving a small flower to an adorable child that he found somewhere. Told you he was the nicest one of the lot. Or – given that he is a plant himself – is this murder? Or is it reproduction? Or is it like one of us giving someone our toenail clippings? Are we reading too much into this?
Here is Bautista’s Drax in action. His fighting style involves two knives of which even Mick “Crocodile” Dundee would approve and arm muscles bigger than your head. Should you find yourself in an altercation with Drax, who lost his entire family to Ronan and is out for vengeance, may we suggest finding an elsewhere to be forthwith?
Oh, it is on. Gamora and Nebula were both raised by Thanos, the bad guy glimpsed at the end of Avengers, and trained to be his personal little assassins. Clearly, Thanos believes in raising his children to respect his death-worshipping ways, and in giving them a useful and marketable skill in a hostile galaxy. But while Gamora’s trying to move in a new direction and atone for past crimes, Nebula is still working for Ronan and keeping her history of violence very much in her present.
We have no idea what this is (unless it's the movie version of Star-Lord's Elemental Gun), but we’d like one for Christmas please.
How bad-ass is Ronan The Accuser? How does he compare to Drax The Destroyer? Well, on this evidence, when it comes to combat between characters with names containing the definite article it’s all going Ronan’s way. This gives us some idea how strong Ronan is, since Drax is not exactly a lightweight.
If you stayed for the mid-credits sting on Thor: The Dark World, you will already have seen Benicio del Toro’s The Collector, bizarrely-coiffed and even more bizarrely dressed. One of the Elders Of The Universe, The Collector – aka Taneleer Tivan – is an immensely powerful and rather eccentric being. All the Elders have their particular hobby, and the Collector’s is in the name really: he basically wants to acquire and pickle anything unique. Style-wise, Gunn described him as “an outer-space Liberace”, which can only be a good thing. Look out for Easter Eggs hidden in his Collection when you see the film, but we have no idea what’s going on with him here.
How do you win over a green-skinned space girl? Why, play her some ‘80s hits on your vintage Walkman, of course. We bet Captain Kirk wished he’d known that. He had to do forward rolls and get his shirt ripped a lot.
Drax faces a wealth of what appear to be more Necrocraft. We’re not sure about the timing of this scene: is this how he got captured and sent to prison? Or is this part of a climactic face-off? Either way, for some reason our money's on that one guy and not all those pilots.
Aboard the Milano, Groot takes a curious interest in Quill’s tape player, festooned with childish stickers and mementos from his life on Earth. He is visibly startled when 'Hooked On A Feeling' blares out as a result. We know how he feels. It’s been stuck in our heads since Comic-Con last year.
And with a final hero shot, one more acerbic comment from John C. Reilly and a look at a screaming raccoon in a spaceship in the skies over Xandar, we’re out! To see if this promised blend of comedy, action and space shenanigans works, we'll have to wait until the film's UK release on July 31 or, if you're in the US, August 1.