Five reasons a woman loved Guardians of the Galaxy
by SJ Griffin
There was a quite comical* article on the Guardian newspaper’s website the other day. It was all about how amazing it is that women have gone to see Guardians of the Galaxy. As a woman I am not a massive fan of these articles that tell us why women, as a great homogeneous mass of entities, are doing something and why it is remarkable. I was only sucked into reading this piece because I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and I am, as I have mentioned, a woman. I am also a massive comics fan.
Apparently, 40 per cent of Guardians of the Galaxy tickets, worldwide, have been bought by women. The only other Marvel film that had similar numbers was Avengers, or Avengers Assemble as those who live here on this little, damp island must call it. I suppose this is a surprising figure if you think that comics are written for boys and only appeal to boys.
Ah, gentle reader, they do not think before they write. In 1947, around about the Golden Age of comics, when Captain America made hay under sunny skies, 95 per cent of boy aged between six and 11 were habitual comic readers. It was 91 per cent of girls. Teenagers? 87 per cent of boys, 81 per cent of girls. This was before romance comics were mainstream and other genres, like crime and later horror, were pitched more clearly along gender lines. So, girls like comics. Ergo (because this is not really the point of this so I’m trying to move on) women like comics. And some don’t. Same with brie, Leonardo DiCaprio and french poodles.
I can’t speak on behalf of the 40 per cent. I can only speak on behalf of myself. And do. Often. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy. Here are the top five things I loved about it:
As in the whole. The integrity of it. This incarnation of Guardians brings together more than five comic strands. Many more if you start drawing in the Infinity Gauntlet and all that. Five characters who have their own…
OK. This incarnation of the Guardians bring together hundreds of comics. The Guardians have always had a rotating roster, sometimes including Iron Man. (I am not adverse to Robert Downy Jr. but he would have killed this film stone dead for me so I am glad he didn’t appear. Also, I can live without the Uni-form.) They cross over, of course, but the early appearance of Rocket Raccoon and Groot are very different in tone to the later Abnett material. Thanos too had very different story arcs. In Annihilation Conquest Star Lord and Ronan are pals. I know, right? It’s almost a miracle then that they bring it all together to work as one coherent story.
If you aren’t a comics fan and don’t suffer the vagaries of near constant ret-conning, trust me, this is a wonder. Seriously, Thor is soon to be a woman. That was big news in the press. Remember the time he was frog?
2. The status of the Guardians in the Marvel canon
The Guardians of the Galaxy are the Styx or Kerberos of the Marvel Universe. A bunch of misfit weirdos having strange galactic adventures. Sci-fi is a bit of a niche in the comics world, with the space opera sitting rather uneasily alongside Gotham and the other earthly dystopias. X-man Cyclops’, father is head of the SkyJammers. They are in space too – so they don’t appear in the films. Iron Man – that’s a space suit too you know.
Anyway, the Guardians are a little moon orbiting planet Spiderman. Less loved. Less written about. What I confessing here is that I was less aware of them. Because of this I had no fixed idea in my head of what they should be like. I am not a fan of the Spiderman films because no one looks like Spiderman. Don’t get me started on the X-Men franchise. Bale as Batman was all right, given what had come before him. But I loved the Joker, oddly both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s versions. Also, Mark Hamil’s laugh in the cartoon is the Joker’s laugh. Michelle Pfeiffer is Catwoman, Halle Berry is not. To be fair though, Berry was in an awful film.
Apart from Gamora needing to be green, Drax having to be massive, literal and have been scribbled on by a toddler with nail varnish and Rocket being a Raccoon, I had no preconceptions about what the characters were like.
This is perhaps not true of Nebula, now I come to think about it. Nebula is supposed to be hardcore, an equal to Gamora. Dark. Wrathful. Not a drama student who got really intense about Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta one time.
3. The cast
One of things I liked about the Watchmen film , which I don’t hate even though the graphic novel is one of my favourites, was that they cast it really well. And they cast it without any really big names. Rorschach was brilliant, I thought. There are frames in the book where it could be Jackie Earle Haley. I think Matthew Goode is also spot on.
It’s not always this way. Every time they mention the live action, America version of Akira (I wish they would bin that idea) they mention someone like Zac Ephron playing, I would guess, Kaneda. Journalists seem to think that Akira is the lead. Funny journalists.
Cultish comics call for cultish casts. Maybe throw in a large-ish name for kudos.
4. The funnies (and the feels)
I laughed out loud. I have quite the tin ear for comedy. I am hopeless at stand up comedy. I come over all Spock. I liked the knowing jokes, that were meta but not too meta, nerdy and fan-ish not hipster ironic. Every time I think of Drax muttering that he wasn’t listening when Star Lord is giving his rousing speech that makes them all stand up (also funny) I laugh out loud again.
This is not wisecracking for the sake of it though. The first five minutes are quite emotional . I like the balance of the funny with the other important stuff you need in a story – the feels.
See also, “pelvic sorcery”, “I felt heroic”, Star Lord flipping the bird, the list goes on…
5. The soundtrack
“I’m Not in Love” by 10cc
“Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
“Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
“Go All the Way” by Raspberries
“Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
“Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop
“Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
“O-o-h Child” by Five Stairsteps
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
“I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 **
Enough said on that one.
On behalf of women called SJ Griffin who wear glasses and have a birthday on the 8th October and won’t eat the stalk end of tomatoes everywhere, I salute you, Star Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket and Drax.
*The closing reference to Chris Pratt’s abdominal muscles is not comical. It is depressing. Actually, it wasn’t comical at all.
** Post credits. You know you always stay until the end of the credit in a Marvel film, right?