Superhero movies are a hard sell when it comes to the general public – particularly because they often stretch a viewer’s ability to suspend their disbelief (especially when that viewer is not pre-sold on seeing superheroes and villains duke it out). When Marvel Studios endeavored to make Thor, it was a big deal; many were skeptical that the studio could sell a character rooted in both sci-fi and mythology to the masses.
When DC/WB made Green Lantern, they were taking an bigger risk: a superhero with alien-based powers, whose origin story was partially set in space amongst hordes of alien characters. As the cynics long predicted, the film (and its titular character) never really connected with audiences the way the studio hoped. As it stands, more grounded stories (like Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy) tend to win out over more fantastical comic book movie fare.
Marvel is going to be upping the ante in a big way with their forthcoming sci-fi action blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy. Based on several iterations of the classic Marvel Comics team, Guardians takes place in an alternate future and centers on a team comprised of characters from various different alien backgrounds, with a human warrior (played by Zero Dark Thirty star Chris Pratt) as their leader. One of those aliens happens to be a living tree – and we also know that a major focus of the film (and the franchise) will be “Rocket Raccoon,” a character who is a gun-toting, hard-as-nails CGI warrior raccoon.
Understandably, some folks have yet to fully warm to the idea of Marvel movies (literally) going this far out there with their concepts – as Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is all too aware. When fielding questions about GotG while at the premiere for Iron Man 3, Feige said the following to i09 regarding the stigma still hanging over cosmic superhero movies in the wake of Green Lantern:
Well the same way, Iron Man 3 has as much CG as any movie we’ve ever made, and I hope it doesn’t feel like Green Lantern. And it’s all about the aesthetic you go for and already we have an art department as impressive as any art department I’ve ever seen in London on Guardians. And it’s, you know, designing things and believing that they’re real when part of the team’s made up of a raccoon and a tree.
Now before anyone starts the “Marvel is dissing DC!” fight speech; Feige isn’t so much dissing Green Lantern as he is commenting on what many fans have already said before him: that that film felt hollow and unconvincing with its abundance of CGI characters and costumes. It certainly is a challenge facing GotG; and, despite the cool Star Wars-esque concept art we’ve seen (see above), if not executed correctly, this film could end up feeling more like Episode I than Episode IV. Given how important Guardians is to the events of Avengers 2, Marvel’s Phase 2 teamup event could hinge upon how effectively director James Gunn and his effects team are at convincing you that a talking Raccoon is real.
Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chris Pratt as Star Lord; Zoe Saldana as the warrior Gamora; Dave Bautista as resurrected badass, Drax; Michael Rooker as alien archer Yondu Udonta, and Lee Pace as the villain. No word yet on who will voice CGI characters Groot and Rocket Raccoon.
Iron Man 3 releases in U.S. theaters on May 3rd, 2013, followed by Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.