New images from Marvel’s risky movies ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’

Marvel Studios must be a great place to work these days. They’ve got one of the best winning streaks in town, both creatively and commercially, and they’re reaching a point where they can start to take more chances and try some things that would have been impossible earlier.

I kind of love that “Big Hero 6” image we’ve got at the top of this story, with Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax sitting on top of a blimp looking down at the foggy San Fransokyo. Whether it’s the fully-animated “Big Hero 6” or the Netflix experiment with “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil,” it’s obvious that Disney is willing to try new things, and no project that they have right now better exemplifies that than James Gunn’s “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

There’s a new image that they’ve released today that gives us a good look at the five main characters in the movie. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, a character who has some direct ties to the film’s two main villains, Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace) and the visually-arresting Nebula (Karen Gillan). Chris Pratt, poised to become a giant movie star to my kids and their peers thanks to this movie, “The LEGO Movie” and “Jurassic World” all in a short period of time, plays Peter Quill, aka Star Lord. Quill is the lead in the film, and as a human being who has been taken to the far side of the galaxy to grow up, he is very much in search of some sense of home.

While Quill is the main character in the film, and it is his character arc that defines the shape of the story, I have a feeling this film is going to work because of the other three Guardians. Rocket Raccoon, if he works, is going to be one of those iconic movie characters that kids simply can’t get enough of. One of the smartest things about the approach they’re taking to him is that he’s not being played as cute at all. He is a gnarly little badass, and not terribly pleased about the experiments that turned him into what he is now. His best friend and constant companion Groot is another one of those characters that young fans will become obsessed with, and there’s really no one else like him in movies. He’s a plant-based life form, he only knows how to say one phrase, and he is fiercely devoted to Rocket.

That leaves Drax The Destroyer, played by Dave Bautista, and when I publish the material from my visit to the set of the film, I think you’ll get a sense of just how much the role means to Bautista, and every single person we spoke to on the set talked about how blown away they were by what Bautista has been doing with the role. Driven by revenge, Drax has turned his body into a road map of private misery and loss, with ornate tattoos that tell the story of how he was left alone in the universe, filled with nothing now but rage. 

Here’s the official synopsis that Disney released for the film:

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team–the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel”s Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits–Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand –  with the galaxy”s fate in the balance.

If you could somehow tell 12-year-old me what movies would look like in the year 2014 and how much of the Marvel catalog would be coming to life in giant-budget mainstream movies, he’d never believe you.

But he thanks you. Greatly.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” arrives in theaters August 1, 2014.
“Big Hero 6” is in theaters November 7, 2014.