I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy this past weekend. When we were going into the movie, my friend, who had already seen it, said it had supplanted A New Hope in his mind. I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t agree. The original Star Wars did something Guardians of the Galaxy did not, and that was something different.
Granted, if I were much younger and saw Guardians of the Galaxy before A New Hope, I’d probably say it was a better movie. It was really fun! But Star Wars introduced a kind of space opera that was never seen before, and it’s ruled so long in people’s imaginations because of it.
Guardians of the Galaxy, no matter how good it is, is derivative. Part of this is because I’m older now, and I can see the movements as they’re happening—the dancing, the outstretched hand, the selfless sacrifice, etc. I anticipated them all. But it’s mostly because the type of story Guardians was trying to tell is archetypal in the same way the original Star Wars trilogy’s story was, without presenting a setting that had never been seen before.
Here’s the thing, though—I don’t care. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy a lot! It may be derivative, but it was really enjoyable, and it remained heartfelt throughout. Marvel movies could easily feel like shallow cash grabs, but they usually don’t, and this one was no exception.
My stated goal in writing fiction, from my About page, is this:
I want to tell stories that make people’s lives just a little bit happier for having read them.
Guardians of the Galaxy did that. It was enjoyable, well acted, well directed, and all in all well done. Only the comparison to a movie that reshaped cinema is unfair. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t have that kind of genius, but it was worth the time I spent watching it, and I look forward to the sequel.
For that, it has my respect.