If you follow me on Facebook, you know I love superheroes and superhero movies, and you know that I absolutely loved Guardians of the Galaxy, which I saw this weekend. And I’ve been trying to figure out why it resonated so deeply with me.
One overriding reason (which I expressed on Facebook) – it’s the most fun movie I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the comedy, which was nicely balanced with some actual drama (I really cared about these characters – more on that later), maybe it’s the space setting. I still don’t know exactly why it was so much fun.
One thing I DO know is that it wasn’t because it was reminiscent of – I shudder to even type it – Star Wars. When it comes to Star Wars, count me out. I saw the original when I was in college, and my opinion then was this: Meh (before meh was even a thing). It just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t like the droids, or Chewbacca, or the crazy bar scene, and I wasn’t wowed by Leia, either. I didn’t see the sequels. I didn’t even think about seeing the prequels. I didn’t even like Spaceballs (in truth, I hated it). The only Star Wars character I really liked was Darth Vader.
As time went on, I disliked Star Wars even more – I think ruined science fiction movies for about the next 20 or so years. Everything (other than Star Trek) had to be almost a clone of it. I guess the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Or, in my case, the one.
So don’t Star Wars me with praise for Guardians. It just doesn’t fly.
All I know is, I walked out of the theater with a big smile on my face, and it hasn’t faded. And ain’t that the point of entertainment.
The other reason
But it wasn’t just fun. There was some touching stuff in there, too (not going to spoil anything here, by the way – you’ll just have to trust me on this).
I think it all crystallized with the speech by Peter Quill/Star-Lord when he persuades the rest of the Guardians to become heroes. (An aside: Chris Pratt is absolutely terrific in this role – the only bad thing about his performance is that he’s so good as Peter Quill that he won’t get another role he may be qualified for. That role? I believe he could replace Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man without any drop in the performance – he’s that good!).
The speech started with seven words: “I look around and I see losers.” He goes on to explain how each member of the pretty-soon-to-be-a-team has lost something, and that in turns gives them something to fight for.
That’s true outside superhero convention, too. I’ve lost my parents and my brother (it makes me want to be a better father and grandfather); I’ve lost jobs (it makes me want to be better at my work); I’ve lost employees (it makes me want to be a better boss).
In truth, you’re only a “loser” if you accept your losses along the way without using them as motivation.
I was once asked on camera (for a video that hasn’t yet seen the light of day, BTW) what my company, Red Ventures, does better than any other company. My answer, without hesitation, was this: “We fail better than anyone else. Because we don’t call it failing. We call it learning.” And that’s not just lip service. We learn from everything we do, success or failure. And it sets us apart.
Back to Guardians. Because they are “losers,” we care about these people and how they grow during the film (to be taken seriously when you’re writing about a movie, you have to call it a “film”). By the end, we want to see them win and save the galaxy and get the rewards because we care about them and Kevin Bacon (you’ll have to see the movie) and we’d like to, like Drax, drink liquids with them.
We could be a little more like the Guardians. Or, as the tree guy says so poignantly (and again you’ll have to take my word for it if you haven’t seen the movie): “We are Groot.” Or we should be.