Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster

During the past months, Marvel Studios has been doing a lot of talking about their upcoming projects. There’s the trailer for Captain America: Winter Soldier, updates on the cast of Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, set photos for Age of Ultron, and the announcement of a third Thor film.

Yet with all the hubbub coming from Marvel Studios, one movie stood out as so odd and improbable that it has been on everyone’s mind since the latest trailer came out: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

The trailer shows off both the high and low points of the film—and I don’t mean spoilers. The problem with Guardians is that it relies on a lot of different factors to keep it afloat. First, the film depends on all the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Guardians aren’t as well-known as Iron Man or the Hulk, and this background knowledge is important to its success.

After all, who’s ever heard of Rocket Raccoon? Dave Batista’s Drax and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora sound like two generic action-movie characters painted green and thrown out into space; Chris Pratt’s Star Lord seems like another non-powered white guy with a gun and Groot is pretty much just a tree. Only geeks would know that Gamora is the daughter of Thanos (a major Avengers villain who showed up at the very end of the first Avengers film), or that Rocket Raccoon is actually kind of awesome, what with his near-infinite arsenal of weapons—and that’s a huge problem in the grand scheme of things.

These characters need to sell to the rest of Marvel’s target demographic, and for that to happen, Guardians of the Galaxy has to ride the coattails of and live up to all the other Marvel movies in order to be relevant to a wider audience.

This brings me to another factor: the movie’s tone. After seeing the success of Joss Whedon’s Avengers script, the writers of the Phase 2 Marvel films attempted to reach the perfect equilibrium of comic-book humor, plot and action—all while attempting to follow the somewhat more realistic rules of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It is evident from the trailer that Guardians of the Galaxy, despite the entire “serious sci-fi” feel, is trying its hardest to be humorous. Examples include the Star Lord flipping off the Nova Corps (an intergalactic police force, a bit like the Green Lanterns) who respond by calling the Guardians “a bunch of A-holes” or the fact that the chosen soundtrack for the trailer wasn’t some generic-sounding dubstep music, and instead “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, making the supposed space war epic sound like a buddy-cop movie in space.

The trailer highlights both humor and action. There are a few shots of two of the main villains (played by Karen Gillan and Benicio del Toro), and a whole bunch of amazing special effects, which seem to be this movie’s other strong suits. This will be Marvel Studios’ first foray into space movies, so special effects are a must; after all, if Richard Donner’s Superman convinced us that a man can fly, James Gunn’s Guardians will have to convince us that a raccoon can not only talk, but shoot military-grade weaponry while flying around on a jetpack in outer space.

Another positive aspect that Guardians has going for it is its stellar cast, which includes Glenn Close and John C. Reilly. This is atypical for a Marvel movie: few people had heard of Chris Evans or Tom Hiddleston before their roles in Marvel movies, but Guardians is aided by many famous actors and actresses, not to help their careers, but to help the film itself. Again, it’s a question of gaining and maintaining relevance in the eyes of the fans and general audience.

I’m not saying this because I’m a diehard Marvel fan, but I really do hope that the general, non-Marvel addicted audience will give this movie a chance. James Gunn has mentioned in interviews that it is “connected to The Avengers 2” and that “at some point in time [The Guardians] will all meet up with different characters throughout the galaxy,” so an Avengers-Guardians crossover is in our future.

Maybe someday before Avengers 3 we’ll get to see Star Lord quip alongside Iron Man, or Groot exchanging blows with the likes of the Hulk. All I know is, now more than ever, I really, really want to see that talking raccoon on the big screen.