It’s hard to talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy movies without talking about generic context. When the first Guardians came out, its near universal acclaim was as much a celebration of the existence of a weird space adventure as it was a celebration of the movie itself. As Matt Goldberg wrote in his Collider review of the movie upon its release:
If anyone thinks Guardians is weird, it’s perhaps because we’ve become too straight-laced. Watching the film, I started to lament how Earthbound our blockbusters have become. Even when those blockbusters go into outer space, they must return to Earth.
Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy is fun, funny, and like cotton candy for your eyes, but the way some people talk about its inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cinematic history in general, you’d think it was the second coming of Iron Man or Star Wars. I adore Groot (Baby and otherwise) as much as the next moviegoer, but Guardians (and I’m writing about the original movie) is more of a color-saturated footnote in cinematic history than it is its own chapter. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it is an overrated film that is not indicative of the best the genre has to offer.
A fair amount of my skepticism around Guardians’ MCU myth has to do with that fact that, unlike Iron Man or even Spider-Man before it, Guardians of the Galaxy is a concept that had been successfully executed on screen prior to Guardians. Yes, I’m talking about science fiction’s immensely undervalued muppet of a TV show, Farscape, which shares so many similarities with the Guardians of the Galaxy plot that they might be cousins. It’s also the perfect comparison to make when trying to parse why Guardians made such a splash when it is such a mediocre film. Let’s discuss…