Guardians of the Galaxy will be a hard sell to the average moviegoerhuman.
While relatively informed fans are content to sit down and gorge themselves on whatever Marvel Studios serve up, the lay person isn’t, by default, so filled with confidence.
Case in point, the common-or-garden moviegoer might not realize this is a Marvel Studios production, let alone understand the relevance of that. They don’t appreciate how Guardians is only obliquely related to the current Phase 2. Or that its relevance will come to the fore as Phase 3 launches post 2015. In fact, most of them would rightly furrow a brow when confronted with said terms.
And this is exactly why taglines like “From the studio that brought you The Avengers” are necessary. It’s shorthand for saying – ‘You like The Avengers? This is just like The Avengers… Only with more wisecracking racoons!’
Even those invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe my question why they should spend ten earth monies and two earth hours on a property that won’t feature Tony Stark, Captain America, the recently disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. or the angry green fella. And it’s a good question.
Marvel has been at pains to interlock their every cinematic endeavour – why the sudden change of tack, let alone scope? If anything, by their own criteria, Guardians seem the most ‘skippable’ entry to date.
I AM TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU TO NOT THINK THAT!
Forget the alien civilisations, outlandish technologies and assorted tight-fitting onesies. Each and every Marvel Studios feature has two very distinct, very tangible audience draws - They are each of them broadly humorous. They are each of them dynamically paced.
With the obvious exception of The Incredible Hulk. Which was balls.
Each Marvel film is centred about a certain theme, teamwork, back-to-basics, reconciliation, conspiracy etc. but’s it’s never long before an amusing observation is made, a witty retort is served or someone, I dunno, falls over. Couple this with the fact each act is punctuated by a grand action set piece comprised of various levels of special effect, martial art or smouldering urban detritus.
They’re action comedies one and all. And not a one of them looks as openly hilarious as Guardians of the Galaxy.
Another facet to consider is that by focusing on such a widely unknown intellectual property, Marvel is essentially levelling the playing field. The audience is all in the same boat, the great ship ignorance. I knew nothing of Guardians of the Galaxy before it was announced. My sole exposure to any one of them was discovering Rocket Racoon in Marvel Vs Capcom 3. The only reason I can tell my Drax the Destroyer from your Ronan the Accused is the marvellous little known resource called Wikipedia.
And so, united in our general lack of awareness, the usual chorus of “Oh, it’s different in the comics!” and “Sucks they changed that!” or even “Did you catch that Nova reference? Awesomesauce, amirite?” may be blessedly absent. Half our attention wont’ divert tn the usual hunt for oblique references and easter eggs, coz we wouldn’t understand them anyway. The entirety of our focus will be on the film.
And if Guardians of the Galaxy is a good film, what difference does familiarity make?! I honestly would not care if Guardians was a totally standalone venture for Marvel Studios as long as it made me laugh. Not a single jot would I care if Marvel Big Bad Thanos wasn’t even mentioned, provided enough flying thingies were speeding away from enough exploding thingies. In fact, if the lack of Marvel identifiers inversely correlated with the number of flying kicks delivered to unsuspecting kissers, I’d be so game I’d come with a season pass.
Laboured metaphors aside, on paper, Guardians of the Galaxy is a hard sell to the average punter. Not only is it Marvel’s biggest gamble, it literally reeks of risk. But in reality, it’s got the same shot as any other film.
Make sure people know it exists.
Make things go boom.
And if it’s not too much trouble, don’t be shit.
The audience will follow.