With the Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan managed to do the impossible and make a gritty superhero movie. Every attempt to mimic it since then has been clunky and embarrassing (I’m looking at you, Man Of Steel). Marvel has wisely learned to embrace the fun and cartoony over the dark and “real” — its best films (Iron Man, Spiderman*) star quip-filled, imperfect characters, and the more they veer towards Platonic Ideals (Captain America, Thor) facing serious threats, the less obvious it is that they’re in on the joke.
Guardians of the Galaxy is by far the most in-on-the-joke film of the series, but despite the parody vibe its trailers might hint at, it’s also one of the most genuinely exciting. The universe is zany and expansive, the action is legitimately cool, the soundtrack is a blast, and all cast members are in top form. It’s hard to imagine a better blend of humor and sincere comic-book fun, and even harder to imagine a better bighearted (anti?)hero than Chris Pratt to lead the way. It sticks pretty firmly to the comic book formula (don’t let the reviews imply some sort of Lego Movie-style surprise), but within that formula, it’s probably the most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer.
Full review round 2 (after technical difficulties made us scrap the first one) below
(*) I know, I know, Spiderman isn’t really a “Marvel Movie”