Well, they pulled it off. Marvel managed to launch off into the sci-fi superhero genre in a rather good, impressive little movie that works far better than it should have, and way better than certain recent releases from their Distinguished Competition.
The movie begins with quite possibly one of the most depressing openings I’ve seen since Up, wherein a ten-year-old boy watches his mother die of cancer. So that’s cheerful. He’s promptly kidnapped by aliens, and we then jump forward 26 years and find that boy has grown up to be an outer-space outlaw who wants everyone to call him “Star-Lord”. The levels of success with that plan vary considerably. We then follow Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill, as he meets up with a green-skinned assassin named Gamora, a mercenary raccoon named Rocket, his best friend/houseplant Groot (I’m Groot!), and a scarred and tattooed fellow called Drax. Together they work, after a bit of fighting, to bring down the schemes of Ronan the Accuser and his plans for galactic destruction, etc, etc.
There was much to enjoy here. The movie has a great, fun, manic energy to it that really has been missing from DC’s releases, and that had been in danger of slipping away with the latest Captain America movie. It’s also fairly lovely to look at, has great pacing, and some really good acting, particularly by David Batista, who I am given to understand is normally a wrestler. The movie also has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard, and even includes an in-universe reason for that soundtrack.
There are some problems and some logic errors (if Ronan could do that to the Nova grid, why didn’t he do it earlier?), and Thanos is completely wasted in the movie. Seriously, he might have had about as much time in Avengers. And a minor quibble, but the “flipping off” bit was funnier in the trailer. There also was a bit of villain bloat, but it wasn’t too bad. Certainly not up on the levels of something like The Dark Knight Rises.
Overall I had a really good time at this movie, and I very much liked it. I highly recommend it. It’s a great fit to the Marvel cinematic universe, and I’m quite curious to see where it will go in the future, especially with a certain character popping up in the end-credits teaser.