The characters also feel so “Star Wars”-y because of the universe they inhabit. This isn’t the clean “Star Trek” outer space, no, no, no. This is a dirty universe, filled with poorly painted starships, dimly lit corridors and walls with chipped paint. You could tell me that the Nova Corps HQ was actually the Death Star and, you know, I’d buy it. Everything that was shown in this trailer looks good and it looks cohesive.
Comparing “Guardians” to “Star Wars” isn’t totally a good thing, though, as it robs the film of the uniqueness that’s bursting forth in every frame of the trailer — uniqueness that most certainly comes from knowing the film’s context. This isn’t a standalone sci-fi feature film, it’s a Marvel Comics movie. This is the first Marvel Comics movie to fully distance itself from the superhero genre and Earth’s orbit, and knowing that makes this trailer even more exciting. This shows that big budget comic book movies are not defined by the superhero genre, and it shows that Marvel can set their ambitions far outside their realm of comfort and come back with something that looks like a real success. This is not a safe movie. There are no name characters, a bunch of niche actors in starring roles, and a genre that can be hit or miss with wider audiences. Still, Marvel went there.
The film isn’t totally divorced from its lineage, though. I really don’t know what would startle the uninitiated more upon seeing this trailer, the rude raccoon or the overtly humorous tone. This trailer goes for jokes in a manner and at a pace previously unseen in any Marvel trailer. That’s not to say the other Marvel movies aren’t funny — you could easily cut an equally joke-filled trailer for “Iron Man 3” — they just aren’t marketed that way. So not only are Marvel leading with a totally new genre and characters and actors previously unproven to be box offices draws on their own, they’re leading with their jokes.
I previously said “Thor: The Dark World” showed off Marvel’s post-“Avengers” confidence, but this one trailer shows it off even more. It is absolutely insane that Marvel has made a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. This iteration of the team made their comic book debut the same month that “Iron Man” kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and here they are six years later with a feature film. They don’t have five decades of existing on the pop culture periphery to build on the way that Thor and Iron Man did. They have pretty much nothing except the word “Marvel’s” shoehorned in front of the movie’s title. While Marvel put the film in development before the “Avengers'” blockbuster success, they didn’t announce it until after that film had come out and conquered. It’s not hard to assume that “Avengers'” overwhelming success emboldened Marvel to double down on this intergalactic gamble.
So here’s the thing, people that want a more diverse Marvel Movie-verse: You have to go see “Guardians of the Galaxy.” There are a lot of groan-inducing Hollywood reasons why movies starring Black Panther, Black Widow and Captain Marvel have not yet been made, but “Guardians'” success can silence one of them. If it’s a hit, Marvel’s confidence will only grow. The film studio will have box office proof that they can successfully launch a franchise from nothing. It doesn’t get much more nothing than “Guardians of the Galaxy,” either, which went from a staggeringly brilliant but canceled team comic book to a Hollywood movie. I honestly would not be surprised if Marvel Studios has a number of films in development right now for their still blank 2016 and 2017 release dates, simply waiting on “Guardians” success to lock them down. If this talking tree movie tanks, maybe we get safe bets like “Captain America 3” and “Thor 3” in the next Phase; if the space slugfest succeeds, maybe we’ll continue to see equally untried characters. Fingers crossed, everybody.
But regardless of whether or not the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rests in the furry paws of an a-hole, the trailer looks fantastic. It’s weird, funny, exciting and somehow feels familiar, yet unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. To sum it all up, this one trailer made me want to go read all of Nebula’s comic book appearances, and that’s a real feat.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the comedy podcast Left Handed Radio. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).