Monday, August 4, 2014

Something Resembling a Review of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Surprise, I'm going to rave about another Marvel movie. I know it's getting old but I can't help it that they keep making movies that are so damn entertaining. If you want to know if this movie is worth the price of admission, the answer is yes. It's a super fun Star Wars-esque sic-fi, the action sequences/special effects are fabulous and it will make you cry about a walking tree and a walking raccoon. Chris Pratt as utterly loveable as Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) and the soundtrack is an instant classic. If you're looking for a fun night out Guardians of the Galaxy is the film for you. Now that we know what was good about it, let's talk about the other stuff. 

This movie was practically made for me. It's got everything I love. It's a space opera, it's about assholes that have to work together, it's got sisters with issues. AND it's got Bright Abbot dancing on an alien planet. Seriously it's like they took a peak at my Christmas list and gave me almost everything that I wanted. It's a testament to my desperation for better representation that I didn't love this movie more. I've reached that point that I'm almost not angry I'm just not interested in the same straight white male heroes. 

Everyone that sees this film is going to tell you how AWESOME it was and I'm not disagreeing with that, it was awesome. I walked out of that cinema smiling like a kid on Christmas and I was fairly tempted just to turn around and watch it again. But just because I had a lot of fun doesn't mean this was a perfect film. It's not anywhere near my favourite MCU film even if it did have Bright Abbot run around space being adorable for 2 hours. 

I'll admit I know next to nothing about the Guardian's of the Galaxy comics - but one of those people that was a little sceptical about enjoying a film that featured a raccoon with a machine gun. I was wrong. I'll own that. Rocket was actually one of the most likeable characters in this film - second only to Groot. His vocabulary might only consist of three words but that won't stop him from breaking your heart. But there is one question I ask myself after I see every film: how did it treat the women? And well the answer to that question is not awesome. 

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most underhandedly misogynist film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Considering the film includes a number of potentially awesome female characters that's pretty damn disappointing. 

I mean come on - they've got Gamora and Nebula who clearly have all kinds of issues that are kind of at the centre of what's going down in this movie, but they don't use it at all. They side line all that awesome angst for a super bland guy yelling about stuff no one cares about. Seriously does anyone know or care what Ronan was all about? Maybe he explained it but forgot basically everything he said as soon as he left the screen. Why do these films keep forgetting that an intriguing villain is just as important as a endearing hero? Sure, they're saving Thanos for later on but couldn't they have put a little more effort into their depiction of Ronan because it was bland as fuck. 

Right so you've got a boring villain overshadowing the two female characters with a legitimate connection. I would 100% watch a whole series of movies about Gamora and Nebula's issues and it would be a hell of a lot more interesting than watching Lee Pace yell about stuff. What a waste. 

That's not even the worst part (although the fact that the movie doesn't even pass the Bechdel Test is unacceptable) - but throughout this film there are a lot of jokes that hinge on misogynist ideals. And sure Peter Quill is sure to be everyone's new favourite character but he's also a misogynist jerk. The way he treats women in this film is almost enough to sour his character for me. If it weren't for the fact that Chris Pratt is one of the most likeable human beings on the planet Star-Lord could have been 100% of a dick. 

Look GotG is not a total write off, there are three fairly prominent female characters. They are all under utilised and it would have been great to see those ladies communicate with each other a little more but hey that's two more female characters than were in Star Wars. It's also the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was written by a woman! Nicole Perlman is awesome and I want to support her one hundred percent but James Gunn definitely got his signature flavour of misogyny all over this script. 

Guardians of the Galaxy will have you up and dancing in the aisle but it's certainly not a step forward in regards to representation (not just women, there's a noticable lack of all minorities in the MCU). 

There are all kinds of jokes going around that if they can make a movie with a talking raccoon successful then there is no excuse not the make a female led superhero movie. It's very funny and true but at the same time really really sad because this movie was a gamble. Everyone knows it was a gamble. I mean it's based on a fairly obscure comic, which features a machine gun wielding raccoon and a talking tree and it has very little connection to the other titles in the MCU franchise. There's not many people that would have picked it for a winner but someone did. 

Just think about that for a minute. They chose to take a chance on Rocket and Groot yet the still haven't made a female led or minority centred superhero movie. They're basically saying that a raccoon and a tree are more relatable than women and/or POC. As Forbes so eloquently put it "Marvel can do whatever it wants now. So if they choose not to make a female-centric or minority-centric superhero film, it’s because they just don’t want to." 

It's not that people don't want to see a female-led superhero movie. Lucy is a pile of racist trash - not to mention incredibly boring - but it still make bank at the box office, beating out Hercules - because people just want to see Scarlett Johansson kick some butt. Even Kevin Feige admitted that there is no legitimate reason that they haven't made a female led film. 

"I very much believe that it's unfair to say, "People don't want to see movies with female heroes," then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn't go to the movies because they weren't good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don't mention "Hunger Games," "Frozen," "Divergent." You can go back to "Kill Bill" or "Aliens." These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later." (via Comic Book Resources).

Don't get too excited, just because he's admitting that they could and probably should make a female led film doesn't mean it's going to happen any time soon. His excuse? They just don't have the time. 

It was obviously super important to introduce Ant-Man (in which they preemptively kill female superhero - and founding Avengers member - Janet van Dyne). Ant-Man literally shrinks to the size of an ant. They chose him over Carol Denver or Luke Cage. They chose him over Kamala Khan - who just got a 6th printing. They chose him over a fucking Black Widow movie. Seriously though, why is there no a Black Widow movie already? 

It's getting to the point where the only way they can make up for this bullshit is if they have already made a Black Widow movie in secret and they are going to drop it out of nowhere Beyonce-style. Because that is the only acceptable answer. 

Anyway the point of this review turned angry feminist rant is that Guardians of the Galaxy is a super fun Star Wars style sic-fi that definitely worth a trip to the cinema. Unfortunately it's got some pretty misogynist humour happening in the background, which would be more forgivable if we just had a god damn Black Widow movie already.