Everywhere I look I find people who close their minds off to something, assuming the worst about a film without ever seeing a single frame. Perhaps it is a genre thing, as once something gets labeled it instantly turns off a certain portion of a potential audience. Comedy is too silly? Horror is too gory? More into realism than fantasy? It's up to each individual to carry with them these biases and it's also up to them to let their guards down for a bit and try and connect with a work outside their comfort zones, but for their sake I hope they can give any movie a fair shake. A lot of comedic pictures are dreadfully unfunny, but had I dismissed an entire genre I would have never discovered that the dude abides. A lot of horror attempts to grab for the lowest hanging fruit with entire narratives centered around torture and the shedding of limbs and lives, but I still couldn't wait to enter a theater recently and figure out what exactly it follows. I have connected in deep and profound ways with realism that feels intensely personal, but I wouldn't be who I am today without decades of admiring science fiction and fantasy storytelling that swept me away to other eras and worlds.
Another problem is this bizarre desire to pledge allegiances to something specific and thus dismiss the other options out there. Star Trek or Star Wars? James Bond or Jason Bourne? Marvel or D.C.? Apparently once you pick a side, it prohibits that person from ever saying a kind thing about the "opposition" again. This whole concept baffles me. Sure I grew up in a galaxy far, far away, but that wouldn't stop me from learning about the original vision of Gene Roddenberry. I am a big fan of the Bourne films, but did you see how outstanding Skyfall was?
Which leads me to both the Marvel vs. D.C. comic book turf war and also my main overall point. Why can't I love both? Why can't I watch the masterful Nolan Batman trilogy one weekend and then the next treasure the Avengers on a quest to save the world? Sure I stylistically tend to prefer the dark and gritty over the bright and fun, but the tone of a picture is not the only factor in play. Man of Steel brought the exact dark and serious twist I wanted on the amazing story of Superman, but heaven help me with that crappy David Goyer script and Zack Snyder's addiction to zoom in on shit every chance he got, where as I approached Guardians of the Galaxy with some trepidation because it was clear before the film was even released that it would be far more of a comedic space opera than anything else.
I could have easily predetermined my eventual issues with Guardians of the Galaxy and not allowed myself to be swayed away from those thoughts no matter what I saw on the screen, especially after the failings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2013 when it came to comedy. Instead though, I treat it like an open minded challenge made from my brain to a filmmaker, in this case James Gunn: prove me wrong. Write a screenplay that will actually make me laugh and yet also feel some emotion. Entertain me with thrilling action but balance that with developed and nuanced characters that I can care enough about to either root for or again them.
James Gunn proved me wrong. He delivered in every way I could have hoped for. He thrilled me, made me laugh more during this one movie than the entire MCU had before it combined, made me give a shit about a tree that can only say three words and a talking raccoon and even brought quite a few tears to my eyes. Guardians of the Galaxy is an absolute blast and my single favorite film from the studio thus far.
Hours from now I will be seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron, and months later Ant-Man. Later in 2015 there will be a Bond and the awakening of the force, and then next year Batman will fight Superman and Captain Kirk will voyage out into the depths of space. Will all of these films be good? I have no idea, and I would be lying if I said I was confident in all of them. Pessimism is a normal part of the cinematic journey, but refusing to enjoy a movie for arbitrary reasons like what fan club you joined as a kid or what studio released it now is a sad reason to overwhelm yourself with negative thoughts and refuse to accept the positives.
Instead approach each like a challenge and hope for the best. If you have had issues with Marvel films in the past so you decided to not see Guardians of the Galaxy, do what I did and give it a chance to prove you wrong.
I'm glad I did.