Guardians of the Galaxy Week – Day 2: Who Are The Guardians?

Making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie is one of the riskiest moves that Marvel has made since Iron Man and I appreciate that Marvel seems to understand that. In marketing the movie they have made a more conscience effort to remind audiences that Guardians is in the same universe with the Avengers.

That said, this is still an obscure comic. While some of the characters and the name “Guardians of the Galaxy” have been around since the 60’s and 70’s, the two didn’t come together until 2008. Prior to 2008, two other teams had taken the name and mantle of the Guardians, but it is the latest iteration of the team that is of interest to us because they are the ones that will be on the big screen at the end of the week. So, let’s introduce them.

*Note: this is who the characters are in the comics. The Marvel movies typically use the basics of a character’s story and change whatever they see fit. Therefore, these descriptions and backstories may be slightly different (or completely different) than their movie counterparts.20140722-071759-26279421.jpg

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is half human, half alien. His father, J’son of Spartax, crash landed in a woman named Meredith’s yard. As he spent time fixing his ship, he and Meredith grew very close but eventually the day came that he had to leave Earth. Because of the war raging in space, J’son felt he couldn’t take his love with him and shortly after he left, she discovered that she was pregnant. Fast forward a few years, Peter is a young boy without a father and, after a horde of aliens, called Badoons, destroy his home, is without a mother as well. Waking up in the hospital, he is left with only his memories and the gun that his father left behind.

After years in an orphanage, Quill went off the NASA to be an astronaut. After reaching space, he began to seek out revenge on the Badoons for the death of his mother.

Gamora is the last of her kind. The rest of the Zen Whoberi were killed off by the Badoons (the Badoons seem to be a reoccurring villain here). Thanos found Gamora in the wreckage and adopted her as a daughter. As she grew up, Gamora was taught combat from Thanos himself and eventually earned herself the title, “The deadliest woman in the whole galaxy.”

Arthur Douglas and his family were driving through the desert when their car was attacked by Thanos killing them all (well, his daughter survived, but that’s a different story). Douglas’ spirit is then put into a new, more powerful body by Kronos who then uses Douglas, now called Drax the Destroyer, as his tool to destroy Thanos. Drax’s origin in the movie will likely be changed as he doesn’t seem to be from Earth based on the trailers.

The tree-man, Groot, actually has two different origins (Why? Because comics). The first is that he was a space invader from Planet X. In this origin, he actually said more than “I am Groot.” Later, his origin was ret-coned and he became the tree that we know today. Interestingly, he and his species are highly intelligent and are actually saying complex sentences, but, because of the hardness of their throats, to most people it just sounds like, “I am Groot.”

Rocket Racoon, who, in my opinion, could either make or break this movie, was the chief of security for the Loonies on the planet, Halfworld. His best friend was a talking walrus named, Wal Russ (yep). After leaving Halfworld, Rocket meets Star-Lord and the two team up. Eventually, the two continue adding members to their rag-tag team (including Groot, with whom Rocket becomes good friends) who will ultimately become the new Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Week – Day 1: Where Are We In The MCU?

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Welcome to Guardians of the Galaxy week here at Nerd in the Real World. Over the next few days we’ll be talking everything Guardians leading up to this weekend’s movie from the characters to what we already know about the movie.

But first, let’s go back and see where we are in the MCU and how we got there (this is the part where I am apparently obligated to alert you to possible spoilers for the various MCU movies).

To date, the cosmic side of the Cinematic Universe has not really been explored. In Phase One, We saw Asgard and Jotunheim (home of the Frost Giants) but most of the movie, Thor, took place on Midgard (aka Earth). Then, we were introduced to the Chitauri in The Avengers and got out first look at Thanos at the end of the movie (of whom we will be seeing more of in the coming years).

Phase 2 took us back to Asgard and explored the Nine Realms some more, but still everything off Earth was under Thor’s umbrella. At the end of Dark World, we were introduced to Taneleer Tivan, aka the Collector, and the Infinity Stones, of which he Tesseract and the Aether are two.

Almost everything that we’ve seen so far from the realm of the cosmos has some connection to Earth. We’ve only seen hints (mostly from Thanos and the Collector) that Earth is not the center of the MCU; but that’s about to change. There’s a good chance that, outside of some flashbacks to explain Peter Quill’s origin, we will see little to nothing from the Earth in Guardians of the Galaxy.

It will be interesting to see how the Guardians fits in with the rest of the MCU. In my mind’s eye, I see the moment where Tony Stark meets a trigger happy, talking racoon for the first time not going well. It also seems out of place for the rest of the MCU. Up to this point, everything has been grounded in reality, even with Thor. Myth becomes reality, magic is just science we don’t understand, etc… But the Guardians offers up a story with characters that are unabashedly not realistic.

Are you looking forward to the latest installment in the MCU?

Big Hero 6 Trailer

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Disney released the first trailer for Big Hero 6 this week and if you haven’t seen it yet, you really should. The Disney Blog wrote a good review of it (and uncovered the first Easter Egg for the movie). I enjoyed the trailer and am really looking forward to the movie but, since the trailer’s release, I’ve begun to hear rumblings on the internet. Marvel fans are wondering why the comic company isn’t given any credit for this movie in the trailer. It says, “From the creators of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph” even though it is, after all, based on a classic Marvel comic from the 80’s.

The answer is simple: Big Hero 6 isn’t a Marvel movie.

It’s a Disney animated movie based on a Marvel comic. Am I nit-picking? Maybe, but think of it this way; Frozen isn’t a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, it’s based on one; Tarzan isn’t an Edgar Rice Burroughs story, it’s based on one, etc… I could do this for almost all of Disney’s animated movies (and more than a few of their live action ones as well).

Is it a somewhat different situation since Marvel is an entity owned by Disney in a way that fairytales and Burroughs’ works are not? Perhaps, but the basic principle is the same. It’s the difference between being a movie that is a Marvel property and a movie that is based on a Marvel property.

Again, is this nit-picking? Maybe. I just don’t want people thinking that Disney is somehow slighting Marvel. Marvel is one of Disney’s biggest money makers right now, they wouldn’t do anything to take the wind out of Marvel’s sails.

What did you think of the trailer?

Armchair Imagineer: Hollywood Studios

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At this point, Hollywood Studios is a hodgepodge of theming. The original concept was that of a Hollywood backlot where you could get a behind the scenes look at the making of movies, but over time it has become, “Oh, we have an idea for an attraction that doesn’t fit anywhere else…it’s sort of related to movies, so let’s put it in the Studios.”

Now, with the recent announcement that The American Idol Experience will be closing at the end of this year, rumors are running through the Internet saying that the Indiana Jones show will be axed next and both will make way for a Star Wars land. People (including myself) love this idea, but in all honesty, it doesn’t fit with the Studios original purpose.

So, what do we do? Go back to its original theming or make something new? I submit that we take what’s been given to us over the years and make something new. Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd both recreate a feeling of Hollywood in its hay day, but what happens when you get to the end of Sunset? You come to an abandoned hotel that looks like it was built during Hollywood’s hay day, but now, in the present, it’s old and rundown (and possibly haunted). Right beside it is G-Force Records, a recording studio very clearly set in modern day.

So there are elements of time travel already in place, let’s expand it out to Hollywood Blvd. As you move down the street through time, you end up at the Chinese Theater. Housed inside is The Great Movie Ride which is, at its core, a celebration of movies as you travel (through time) from past to present. Coming out of the ride puts you, thematically, in the present and now we can enjoy areas like Pixar Place (where we’ve rethemed the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Playground to A Bug’s Life and taken out the Backlot tour and replaced it with something from Carsland or the Monsters Inc. roller coaster through the door factory that my wife wants), the rumored Star Wars land (making Star Wars Weekends even better), a Marvel land (because, in my dream, Universal has given up its theme park rights) where the Streets of America and Lights, Motors, Action are now. The Animation Courtyard will still be a place to celebrate Disney Animation (and being able to meet the latest Disney characters) so that won’t change much and neither will the Muppets area (though let’s expand on it some).

Your turn. What, if any, changes would you make to Hollywood Studios?

Thoughts on the Justice League Franchise

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Rumors are spreading that DC will be announcing their superhero movie line up from 2016-2018 at Comic-Con this year and the potential schedule looks intense. I’m not convinced that this list of movies wasn’t “accidentally” leaked from Warner Bros. in order to gage audience reactions, but, because it’s still in the rumor category, that’s not what I want to focus on right now.

I was talking to a friend the other day about the Justice League franchise and a thought occurred to me. Even though I wish they would retcon their previous DC movies to bring Ryan Renyolds and Joseph Gordon Levitt into the Justice League, there is something that feels right about starting a Justice League franchise with Superman.

He was the first superhero. Everything we know about superheroes starts with him.

That said, because Supes was first, DC should not have let Marvel gain the momentum that it has. When you thought about superheroes prior to the MCU, you thought of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, then Spider-Man and Wolverine. Now, the first heroes that come to mind are Iron Man, Thor, Captain America then Batman.

Because of their history and the strength of their characters, they should’ve been first with the movie franchise, but because they got complacent with their success, DC is now playing catch up.

Has Disney Ruined Marvel?

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It’s interesting to take a step back and realize that Marvel has employed similar storytelling elements to Disney, but I don’t blame Disney for it. And I’m definitely not mad at them, they’re making great movies.

You don’t have to be 100% unique to tell a good story. You just have to use what’s available well.