It might be a little bit premature to discuss Gamora. I am sure that Guardian of the Galaxy 2 will develop her character even further. I considered skipping her, but I didn’t want to wait more than a year before talking about her. Plus, even the characters I already did discuss might turn up again in the future, so it will be my policy to update the old articles whenever there is something new to add, either way.
What I knew about Guardians of the Galaxy beforehand:
Absolutely nothing. How could I? If even avid comic book readers had barely an idea who those guys were, how should I know? So I did the best out of it: I avoided information about the movie as much as possible in order to get truly surprised by the movie. It was a great experience to have zero idea what was about aside from a vague idea that there will be a group of whacky characters.
What I think about the movie:
I love it! I love, love, love it! There are certainly other Marvel movies which can also claim the top spot for the best movie of the series, but GotG is the one I will watch most often. I love the characters. I love the universe they are starting to create. I even love the action scenes, and that is saying something, because action scenes tend to bore me very, very fast. But not those. There is so much creativity in them, so many details which keep me on the edge of my seat.
I think the most common criticism concerning the movie is the villain. That Ronan is flat, boring, whatever. I disagree with this assessment. I honestly have no idea where the notion that a villain has to be layered comes from. Was Darth Vader particularly layered when he got introduced? No, if anything, exploring his backstory made him smaller than he was beforehand. Disney has a whole galery of popular Disney villains which succeeded based on their design and certainly not on their layered characters. Sure, villains like Loki with big story-arcs are fun. But for a movie which already has to introduce a whole bunch of new characters plus a whole universe, this kind of villain would only pull focus. Spending unduly time on him when he gets killed either way by the end of the movie would only be a waste of time.
What the movie needed was a disneyesque villain, someone who is built up as a convincing obstacle for the heroes and seems to be undefeatable. And boy, did they deliver. The first scene introducing Ronan is perfectly done. In one character establishing scene the audience learns his motivation and the full extent of his fanatism. I mean the guy literally bathes in the blood of his enemies (good job getting that past the radar) in some kind of ritual, how disturbing is that? And whenever he turns up on screen, the not so heroic heroes loose. By the time the final battle happens, Ronan has already killed a whole prison full of people, swatted Drax away like some annoying fly and has, for all sense of purposes, won. Not for one second I have any doubt that defeating him is a really, really long shot.
In addition, the movie also introduces a villain for the future in Nebula, someone who is not that complex yet, but whose character can be built up in future installments. Well played. Really well played. All in all Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun ride, but one with just enough gravitas to prevent the movie from being shallow. And I can’t wait for the next installment. What I think about Gamora:
Let’s get the negative out of the way first: The movie operates (again) with the Smurfette principe. There is also a certain gender imbalance in the Nova Corps: While there are female officers shown, all pilots are male. Other than Nova Prime, the female officers always carry some sort of clipboard, which makes them look like secretaries. And Gamora’s big final fight is naturally the woman vs woman version. Despite being the one who deflected from Ronan in the first place, she never gets any confrontation scene with him.
The positive? Well, Gamora is dressed. And if you have ever seen a drawing of her comic version, you’ll know what an improvement her costume is. It’s practical, but still with a touch of feminity in it. She is also established to be a great fighter and ready to stand up for her believes, while still being smart enough to pick the right moment to rebell. Of all the characters she is the first who abandons the notion of personal gain when she realizes how dangerous the orb truly is. And I can’t emphasis enough how glad I am that the movie avoids the old trope of pairing up the female lead with the male one. They tease it a couple of times, but mostly in order to point out how stupid this trope actually is, I am kind of surprised how many people complain about the lack of romantic chemistry between Peter and Gamora, because in my eyes that is kind of the point. Just because someone just rescued you life, you don’t fall immediatly in love with him, especially not if you know very well that this guy is hitting on more or less every female who crosses his path.
I am kind of neutral about the instances in which Gamora gets sexualized, mostly because the movie does it with Peter Quill, too. There is no real reason to show him getting stripped and sprayed aside from giving the female audience an eyeful of his abs. I also don’t mind too much that they toned down Gamora’s abilities a little bit, because otherwise, she would simply be too powerful (which might become a problem in future installments concerning Groot, too, they better set him some limitations as soon as possible). I think the movie still does a good job establishing that she is the fighter of the group. The only reason why Drax gets the drop on her is because she makes a surrundering gesture in an attempt to negotiate with him – not her strength, that is Peter’s skill, which makes up for the fact that he is the weakest fighter of the group. Which is another detail I like that for once the roles which are normaly given to female, like the emphatic negotiator or the computer expert, are given to males this time around, while the assassin in female. Kind of like Black Widow, but not really.
Like more or less everyone else it didn’t escape me that Guardians of the Galaxy is basically the Avengers in space. But that doesn’t make them the same characters. Yes, both Thor and Drax are warriors who have trouble understanding human culture and language. But while Thor is motivated by duty and honor, Drax is motivated by grief and the desire for revenge. Tony Stark and Rocket are both wise-cracking mechanics, but Tony Stark is motivated by the desire to atone for past sins and does it better this time around, Rocket feels that the universe owes him for creating him in the first place. Or to put it this way: While Tony is Dr. Frankenstein who rues his invention, Rocket is the Monster – but the smart book version, not the one from the horror movies. Groot and the Hulk are both verbally challenged and powerful giants, but while the Hulk is all force, Groot is a gentle soul who only attacks in extreme situations. But then, so is Bruce Banner. But while Bruce Banner can’t control his rage, Groot uses exactly as much force as necessary, and is more a protector than an attacker. Steve Rogers and Peter Quill have even less in common, while they are both hung up about an era long past, one is a boy scout and the other a lovable rogue.
So what have Natasha and Gamora actually in common aside from being both female assassins who grew up under abusive circumstances? Not a lot. Natatsha was trapped in a life she didn’t like until Clint came along and is now motivated by the desire to make up for what she did in the past. Gamora on the other hand took her oportunity to escape (and get rich in the process), and I don’t think that she feels particulary guilty for what she did in the past. She sees herself as just another of Thanos victims, and for her counts what she does now that she is free from him. Their fighting style is very different, too. Natasha is a small woman and has to put her whole body into an attack, plus she is an outstanding shot. Gamora on the other hand can rely on her physical enhancements and therefore presents herself always as the powerful woman she is. She has no reason to pretend otherwise, and her reputation preceeds her either way. While Natasha is first and formost a spy, Gamora is first and foremost a soldier. She can be sneaky, but only so far as it is necessary for self-preservation. Her natural instinct is not to manipulate (that’s Peter’s job), but to openly argue her point.
I also have to praise Zoe Saldana. There are so many details she adds to the performance which seem to hint that there is a side to the character, which was surpressed a long time ago by the training Thanos subjected her to, and which is, by the end of the movie, slowly coming forward again. All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy laid solid groundwork for Gamora. The most interesting aspect might be her relationship to Nebula. And no, I didn’t miss the parrallels there either. It is a lot like the relationship between Thor and Loki, down to one of them hanging on while the other reaches out. And yet, it is totally different, and not just because Gamora and Nebula are totally different characters compared to Thor and Loki. Odin and Freya are loving parents, which surely encouraged Thor and Loki to get along, while Thanos encouraged rivality. And yet, there is something more than that between Gamora and Nebula. It is a feeble connection, but it is enough that Gamora tries to reason with Nebula. Even Nebula admits that of all her adopted siblings, Gamora is the one which she hated the least (which is practically an exclamation of love coming from her). I certainly hope that this will be one of the themes GotG 2 will explore.
Quote: “Whatever nightmares the future holds, are dreams compared to what’s behind me.”
Like I said, I loooooove Guardians of the Galaxy. But it is a movie for people who are ready to just have a fun time and enjoy, who appreciate some good action scenes combined with enough character interaction to make you care about the people on screen. And I guess if you are not into the particular brand of humor, you might get bored by it. But in general, I think that everyone should watch the movie at least once. It is one of those rare movies in which everything comes together to a nearly perfect product, and the few complains I might have, are nitpicks which are mostly the result of the need to set up a group of five characters, multiple villains and a whole Galaxy in one movie. And they pulled it off in an awesome movie. It is full of memorable moments and quotable lines, and one of the few movies which I watched multiple times in theatres.