While not as famous as Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor, the Guardians of the Galaxy have a long history. Created by comic writers Arnold Drake, Roy Thomas, and Stan Lee, the team debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 in 1969. While they had some success in the 70s, they eventually faded out until being revived in 1989 by Tom DeFalco. Eventually, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning created a new Guardians of the Galaxy team in 2008. Eventually, screenwriter Nicole Perlman penned a script in 2009 for a potential film, and Kevin Feige mentioned it in 2010. It was soon announced as being in development in 2012 with Saint Louis native James Gunn co-writing and directing. Given its outlandish premise, upon hearing about, most people balked at how ridiculous it seemed. Despite the odds, audiences in 2014 were treated to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

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On a remote and desolate planet, Earth-born smuggler Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) finds a mysterious orb hidden away. After outrunning the Ravagers, space pirates led by Yondu (Michael Rooker), Quill travels to planet Xandar to collect payment. Soon, he encounters huntress Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the loud-mouthed Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), and his tree friend Groot (Vin Diesel). The four are arrested and sent to a far off space prison, where they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). They reluctantly agree to work together to escape the prison and learn more about the orb they carry. Meanwhile, the fanatical Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is ordered by the mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) to retrieve it. Turns out the orb contains an Infinity Stone, an ingot with enough power to wipe out an entire planet. This unlikely team must band together and stop Ronan from using the stone.

Like most people before this movie came out, I was skeptical about it, thinking it was going to bomb hard. Granted, given that it was made by James Gunn, whose credits include Slither and Super, it had some good potential. What we got was something completely unexpected: a fun sci-fi romp with tons of humor and a lot of heart. The first thing to mention is how great the characters are, each one given their own unique quirks and personalities. Peter is snarky, Gamora is ruthless, Drax is hilariously literal, Rocket is loud and wild, and Groot is, well, Groot. Each is given a moment to shine, and it’s fun to see them group as a team. Not only that, but this movie has a surprising amount of heart, given some of the more emotional scenes. Because we love the characters so much, we actually care about the action.

The action is also a lot of fun, reminiscent of sci-fi epics of the 70s and 80s. Think Star Wars crossed with Flash Gordon with some Last Starfighter thrown in for good measure. Some of the action highlights include the prison escape, the fight with Ronan’s forces, and an air battle on Xandar. Probably the one thing that drags this movie down is the villain, Ronan, who acts like any other stereotypical villain. Not saying Lee Pace does a bad job in the role, but there’s not much to the character. That said, it’s fun seeing this epic supervillain pitted against such outrageous and out-there characters. Also, special mention to the soundtrack, which includes 70s artists like David Bowie, Blue Swede, and The Raspberries. This, along with the characters and action, make Guardians of the Galaxy an enjoyable experience.