Aug 4 2014 10:00am

Please Love This Thing You’ve Never Heard Of: The History of Sci-Fi Hype

Even at seventeen years-old, I thought it was weird how many people were doing the camp-out thing for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace while sitting in an inflatable Darth Maul chair they bought at Target. Sure, Maul looked cool in the movie trailer, but I didn’t know he was cool yet. (And to be fair, that particular cool jury is still out.) This weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy opened, and depending on what feelings you’re hooked on, it’s been stamped a certified genre classic. But it was also specifically and meticulously pruned to get us all excited, well before it opened. And in the history of sci-fi and fantasy movies, why do we so often believe the hype?

My Phantom Menace example might be a little unfair simply because Star Wars was already popular in 1999 and had been away from cinemas (at least with new films) since 1983. But the hype-machine of the original Star Wars is in many ways the gold-plated standard for how you get a core audience excited about the release of a movie they’ve never heard about. It’s hard to believe there was a time when Star Wars was something nobody knew about, and its marketing played a big part in why so many people showed up on opening weekend.

The person credited with this primarily is Charles Lippincott, who saw the potential to get people in science fiction and fantasy fandom excited about Star Wars in 1976. He pushed for a Star Wars presentation at World Con that year, as well as San Diego Comic Con. Ralph McQuarrie concept art was on display, as were costumes, and even Mark Hamill. Can you imagine time traveling to World Con 1976 now? Walking around, casually checking out the Star Wars booth? (This sort of reminds of the recent news of Peter Capaldi hanging out at a comic book shops before people knew he was cast in Doctor Who.)

Star Wars was also aided in part by the release of a Marvel Comics “adaptation,” and a novelization, both which came out well before the film. Lippincott and Star Wars didn’t invent some of these marketing practices, but they did prove this sort of thing could work. Let’s also not forget that prior to the success of Star Wars, science fiction and fantasy—unless you count The Wizard of Oz—weren’t necessarily safe bets at the box office. So in addition to changing movies themselves, Star Wars also permanently changed the way genre films were marketed.

In the post-1977 Star Wars domination, everything from Battlestar Galactica to Tron was marketed both to the mainstream media and, more relevantly, directly to people who were assumed (often correctly) to be the fans. If this sort of thing hadn’t continued to happen, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now writing about this on a website dedicated to science fiction and fantasy. The brilliance of a good hype-machine is that it makes the fans themselves advocates for a film they haven’t yet seen—they’re almost more excited about the hype than about actually seeing the movie. So if you still haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a chance (for some) that the anticipation is as good as it’s going to get. In the case of the classic Star Wars, the film surpasses and justifies the crazy good marketing hype. With Guardians of the Galaxy, were still kind of in the eye of that storm, and it’s a little unclear if this movie will “last” in the cultural memory for years to come.

According to some people, Guardians is “the new Star Wars.” Of course right now it is the new Star Wars, but then again, everything with good enough hype machine always is. We don’t know yet if it will last the way Star Wars has, and I think its true cultural cred and legit ability to jump generations can’t and won’t accurately be judged for a few years. Further, I’d argue, that its overwhelmingly positive reviews are still an extension of the hype machine doing its job correctly. Spoiler alert: the movie is of course, objectively fun and clever, it’s just that I believe the 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating is more a result of a hype-hangover than true classic-status. (Don’t think hype-hangover exists? Check out this softball review of The Phantom Menace in The New York Times in 1999)

But what about when none of this happens post-release? What about when hype backfires?

What about Cowboys and Aliens? What about Star Trek Into Darkness? Heck, what about Avatar? Call it the “countdown to letdown” effect, the notion that these sci-fi hype machines sometimes backfire. I’m not talking about how much money the films make, but rather the love they fail to engender critically and from the fans, post-release. Star Trek Into Darkness did fine in terms of making money, but I’m not sure anybody was super interested in cosplaying as the new Khan or Carol Marcus at Comic Con, particularly not after the movie came out.

Ditto for Cowboys and Aliens, a movie that followed the hype-machine formula to the letter, complete with a comic book that was released before the film materialized. Saying Cowboys and Aliens was a joyless eyesore isn’t the point, the point is, everybody was ready to love it. I was ready to love it. I wrote about how much I was going to love it right here on I didn’t love it, I hated it, and I felt betrayed. I use this as an example mostly because I’m a well-known contrarian, so sometimes things I either do or don’t like are considered “weird.” But I’m not totally crazy here: the general adoration for Cowboys and Aliens and Star Trek Into Darkness is nowhere near something like The Avengers, or even Man of Steel.

Plus, I know pretty much everyone felt let down by Green Lantern, but perhaps that’s because the tone-deaf marketing failed to disguise the inherent badness of the film. I mean, at least have a decent trailer. Even the trailers for all the Star Wars prequels are excellent. I’m no prequel hater, but I know they suck. But those prequel trailers? I still think they’re tops. And we all know Cowboys and Aliens had great trailers, too.

Obviously, Cowboys and Aliens was disadvantaged in the same way Guardians of the Galaxy kind of was. Who are these people? And please don’t tell me every last one of you has always been a huge fan of Rocket Raccoon and Star Lord, because though this title has been around for awhile, this current line-up of the “Guardians” is very 2008. To borrow from a fantastic Onion piece about Green Lantern: “Remember Star Lord? He’s your favorite?” These aren’t “classic” Marvel characters, and even if they were, that wouldn’t be why anyone is excited.

Ah, but there’s where the Guardians of the Galaxy hype was kind of great: it’s got that scene in the trailer where someone has NO IDEA who Star Lord is, so everyone feels good about it. No matter how you feel about the rest of the movie, I think that scene is awesome, because it makes me believe the movie is cool. The excitement and hype comes from perceived coolness, which are epitomized by these great trailers.

In many ways, the Guardians of the Galaxy marketing is a hybrid: it’s both really ambitious and really safe. It’s ambitious, because the characters are goofy and a regular person still doesn’t really know what it’s about.

But it’s safe too, because the casting choices are totally mainstream, and the sly appropriation of existing pop music makes the movie feel like something you’re already aware of, even though you’re really not. And though while a lot of people are calling the music choices in Guardians of the Galaxy “brilliant,” they are really the hype-man inside the movie, constantly waking you up to get excited about what you’re watching. The film, and its trailers and posters are referential to 1970s and 80s genre movies, but still seem to look sort of new. Guardians of the Galaxy’s brand identity is simple: if you see anything familiar here, this movie is probably for you, everybody.

I read a news story recently that Coldplay was sticking hand-written lyrics from their latest album “Ghost Stories” into books of ghost stories for children, in public libraries. I’m not sure this sort of viral marketing actually worked (“Oh hey mommy, this R.L. Stine book rocks. Hey, I think I might want to buy a Coldplay album.”) but it did remind me of Guardians of the Galaxy, insofar as it felt like overkill. The movie is making obscene amounts of money and everybody is freaking out like they’re a teenager at Beatles concert in 1964. Yet, we all know a lot of it's down to cute/classy marketing ploys. We’re all cynical about these things to an extent, but when something manipulates us in just the right way—like Stockholm syndrome—we love it. And with Guardians of the Galaxy, that’s the sign of good hype. Or maybe, good art.

Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to

Paul Rando
1. SerDragonReborn
The marketing campaign and the movie itself (yes, I've seen it) are all about "fun." And maybe I'm a sucker for "cheap tricks," but I smiled throughout this movie more than in any movie I've ever seen in theaters, including comedies and Tolkien films (I'm a sucker for the Tolkien films).

I think an important aspect is that, according to literally every single interview with the cast & crew, and especially director James Gunn, everybody involved was having fun making it. There was an energy and atmosphere that they knew they were involved with something exciting.

Of course, you're 100% right: it's way too early to tell if this movie will remain as culturally successful as it is right now (financially speaking, it's good to go).

On my part, it's very difficult to get me to remember lines from a movie after only a single viewing, unless they were in a trailer I saw 100 times. I can think of several phenomanal lines that weren't in any previews that stuck with me, and that is a sign of success in my book.

Whited out, the lines I'm referring to. SPOILER-ish:
"You, Quill, are my friend. And this dumb tree is my friend. And the green whore..."
"Great. Now we're a bunch of jackasses standing in a circle."
"He got my dick message!"
"Who put the sticks up their butts? That's cruel."
And of course, "We are Groot."

I'm seeing it for the second time tonight, and I'm even more excited that I was the first time.
2. harmonyfb
Saying Cowboys and Aliens was a joyless eyesore isn’t the point
I loved "Cowboys and Aliens" - in fact, I came out of the theater whooping with joy (no lie), and shouted to my husband "Let's go AGAIN!" I couldn't (and still can't) understand why it didn't get more love from the general movie-going population. It was the perfect blend of western + SF, and the acting was outstanding. (But - I am weird, and I have weird tastes, so there ya go.)

I was not, however, on board for Guardians of the Galaxy. I hated the comics - hateyhatehated them. When it was announced, I was angry that instead of a Black Widow origin movie, we got a freaking talking raccoon that nobody wanted. The trailer changed my mind. I saw it this weekend, laughed like a loon, whooped for joy, cheered, and left the theater with my heart buoyed up like a zeppelin. I'm going again.

So...I suppose my point is that taste is subjective, and trailers are more effective than hype.
Katie Frey
3. TalithaSedai
Huh, maybe that's why I thought the movie was kinda...ok, but not great? I just dont have the same connection or experience to the music as it seems everyone else has. Pretty sure I'd never heard a single song on "Awesome Mix Vol 1" before this movie (or the trailers for this movie). So, for me, this music just.... didn't do anything.

Like I said, it was ok, I enjoyed watching it, but, for me, it didn't quite live up to the hype. Not like Avengers or Winter Soldier did. The connections like Infinity Stones and Thanos to the main movie sequences were what held it together, and if (when) they bring Thanos into the main movies, than I think this one will mean more to me. Maybe I just need to sit down and listen to some 70s music? Yea...that probably isn't going to happen. >.>
4. Bluejay
I think the success of much-hyped films like Star Wars and the failure of much-hyped films like Green Lantern highlight a key point: for the hype machine to really work, the product still has to be good. Quality still matters.

"it's got that scene in the trailer where someone has NO IDEA who Star Lord is, so everyone feels good about it."

That scene is indeed brilliant -- as is the fact that Peter Quill is trying to push this self-made nickname on everyone, because that's what the movie itself is working hard to do as well: take an unknown and make him a legend in our eyes. By the time other people are acknowledging him as "Star-Lord" at the end of the film, so are we.

"the sly appropriation of existing pop music makes the movie feel like something you’re already aware of, even though you’re really not. And though while a lot of people are calling the music choices in Guardians of the Galaxy “brilliant,” they are really the in-movie, hype-man, constantly waking you up to get excited about what you’re watching."

Sure, but that doesn't make the choices any less brilliant. It's no different than TV shows like Scandal scoring their scenes with Stevie Wonder and James Brown songs to add sizzle to the proceedings. And isn't music always the in-movie hype man, getting us excited about what we're watching? Think of the Wagner in Apocalypse Now, or the Strauss in 2001. Brilliant choices all.

"Yet, we all know a lot of its down to cute/classy marketing ploys. We’re all cynical about these things to an extent, but when something
manipulates us in just the right way -- like Stockholm syndrome -- we love it."

Have you seen the current Broadway production of Pippin? It's an amazing show of magic and acrobatics and seductive music that's constantly telling you how it's manipulating you even as it's successfully doing it, and it's a brilliant and genuinely entertaining show because of it. I think on some level this is a kind of dance that we're always having with our entertainment. We're always aware of being wooed and pitched to, but we can still distinguish good suitors from bad, and we get to decide when to willingly fall for someone's charms.
Alicia Dodson
5. LynMars
There have been trailers that made me go "Well, this looks cool" but on the other hand, I can generally look at even a "cool" trailer and say "this movie will either be awesome, or terrible" and no amount of hype can really fix that.

It's a thing especially with genre films, where you can see how they cut scenes to fit in the trailer, voice overs of lines that may or may not be actual dialogue but aren't matched up to the scene they're supposedly from, lots of fancy costuming and CGI effects and makeup, and how does this concept come together coherently?

Despite the hype for Maleficent, for example, roommate and I didn't see it opening weekend for various reasons, and then everything we heard made us decide we could wait for small screen release. It looked lovely from the trailers, but we had that vibe of "could be good, could be bad" (I still got the Lana Del Ray version of "Once Upon a Dream" though, cuz that was creepy cool). Same thing for Cowboys vs Aliens.

Guardians of the Galaxy I was a little worried about initially, but the trailers and everything I did hear about it from cast and crew looked and sounded genuinely fun. Like, they weren't just saying it to be polite (like, say, The Last Airbender creators when the movie-that-totally-never-happened came out; you could tell DiMartino and Konietzko were not happy but saying nice things because they HAD to).

While there are some quibbles about GotG--the plot is pretty straightforward with no surprises, for instance; the beats are entirely predictable--it does play to Marvel's strengths with good character interaction, and sets up for future projects with these characters; they are the point of the film. I had fun watching it this weekend, but it does remain to be seen if it's a "classic" or just a bridge film to other Marvel projects coming down the line (like GotG 2, now that they've got the ensemble established).
6. Random22
I object heartily to you putting Star Trek Into Darkness on the same level as that soul-less piece of dren, Cowboys and Aliens. Into Darkness was nowhere near as good as that, C&A was streets ahead in viewability and liekability of characters.
Lauren Hartman
7. naupathia
I saw GotG and really loved it. Did it live up to the hype? Eh... well there was a LOT of hype, and only a few things can really live up to that (Star Wars original, LOTR, Harry Potter...)

It was a really good movie. Honestly I liked this one better than any of the other Avenger movies (except for maybe Captain America Winter Soldier). The dialog was brilliant. It's one of the very few films where the dialog feels truly organic -- partly from the writers but also a large part from the casting choices as well. I could honestly believe everyone in this movie was really just having fun.

As for whether it will be a timeless cultural icon... I doubt it. Mostly because it takes a truly remarkable movie to do that. And while this one was good, to me it doesn't have that certain sense of timelessness that I associate with something that can make it into cultural iconage. It's a pretty formulaic movie.

Also I would put it more in the comedy category than anything, and one that doesn't really have any *depth* to it -- and I don't think I've ever seen a purely comedic movie become a cult classic (for example, Groundhog Day is funny but has a more serious undertone and philosophy to it).

But is that a fault of the movie? No, I think it's more a fault with the Hollywood hype-machine -- they want us to think everything they make will be the Next Big Thing. So of course it's unlikely to actually happen.
8. w00master
"Pretty sure I'd never heard a single song on "Awesome Mix Vol 1" before this movie (or the trailers for this movie)."

@TalithaSedai You've actually not heard a single song from that? Really? Lord, I really must be getting old.
Paul Rando
9. SerDragonReborn

I'd only heard about 50% of "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" before seeing the movie. But I actually have a point to make about the soundtrack. Like any movie music, its purpose is to underscore and enhance whatever the action or emotion of the moment is. And not having not heard many of the songs didn't hamper it for me at all. On the contrary, I didn't have previous memories attached to those songs, and now they are associated with Guardians of the Galaxy in my mind-new songs, new memories! That doesn't mean I didn't understand the "nostalgia," because the songs I didn't know where nevertheless similar to 70's and 80's music I do know. I was glad I didn't know all of the music so that I can now associate it with a fun new romp in space.
jon meltzer
10. jmeltzer
I thought the GoTG marketing campaign was excellent, and am pleased that the movie actually is decent. Maybe I'll go see it while it's still in the theaters.

OTOH, Star Trek Into Khanness was marketed well at the start, too. Cumberbatch did look scary ...

I suppose we should be thankful that Groot didn't turn out to be really The Green Goblin or something.
11. 4tothefloor
Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't a total unknown. They were trading heavily in the marketing on the Marvel movie brand of interesting characters and good action.
Matt Stoumbaugh
12. LazerWulf
An interesting thing I noticed about the "hype-machine" while watching GotG, about 20% of the stuff from the trailers wasn't actually in the movie. (Ok, that number may be a little high, but still...)

John C Reilly never says "They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy", or Glenn Close or Chris Pratt enumerating them as "a thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac", Or seeing Zoe Saldana's naked back (a shame, but I respect them, artistically, for not including that in the film, even if the existence of that scene anywhere on film was just pandering, a la Carol Marcus in her undies), or Drax's mugshot scene (which makes sense not to include, as he wasn't there when the rest of them were arrested.)

It's like that stuff was shot specifically for trailer bait, and I am okay with that.
Chris Meadows
13. Robotech_Master
Fun fact: Lippencott is actually mentioned in the Alan Dean Foster Star Wars novelization. Some acquaintance of Han Solo and Chewbacca's was named "Ttocneppil," which I noticed at the time was "Lippencott" spelled backward. I never knew exactly why someone named "Lippencott" should warrant such a mention there…until now. Learn something new every day, I guess.
Lauren Hartman
14. naupathia
@3 I honestly can't believe you've never heard any of those songs! What music do you listen to? Strictly classic? Country? Only pop made this decade? (Saying this all tongue-in-cheek, not meaning to be rude :) )

@8 Doesn't really make me feel old, all of the music is great. And for the record I'm still in my 20s so I still think I count as "young" - and I knew every single song played.

I will say the music was a bit jarring sometimes - as in, played way too loud (and sudden) to the exclusion of everything else. Maybe it was more to do with my theater though, I can never tell.
Deana Whitney
15. Braid_Tug
Saw it on Sunday. Buzz was still good.
Had a blast watching it. And was doing a ton of seat dancing to the music. But unlike @3, I was familiar with all the songs.

Groot!!! Love him.

Was disappointed in the hype machine behind the cookie. Was expecting more because of what I’d heard.
And was disappointed in Karen Gillan’s performance. Was hoping for more from her besides yelling = anger.

But I thought that Chris Pratt did a great job of channeling Ben Browder's John Crichton. A character and actor who I love. So Peter Quill had a strong Crichton vibe, which I loved.

Now, I hope we learn more about Quill's dad, but I don't want the second one to become the "Quest for Quill's Father." No, I don’t read the comics and was not familiar with the backstory. I’m sure a wiki search will fill me in.
Marcus W
17. toryx
Hype usually doesn't have a positive effect on me. Lots of hype tends to make me want to avoid something on general principle. The trailers for Guardians actively made me want to skip the movie even more than I was already inclined.

The only reason I saw it was that it's part of the Cinematic Marvel verse and I'm a completist about such things. I wasn't about to skip something that might have an impact on the later Marvel movies. So I swallowed my distaste and saw it only to discover that I had a surprisingly good time despite the hype.

I don't know if the movie will have a long term impact on people or the genre but I do think it was done well enough to capture the adventurous spirit that movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones did. I'd like to believe that is far more important than marketing and hype.
18. big K
Refering to a film as the "new Star Wars" makes me think of all the "new/next Beatles" that have come and gone in the past fifty years. As John Lennon once said, "the circus has left town but we still own the site."
19. JoR
I knew next to nothing about GotG a few months ago. I got more and more interested as trailers were released. In the end, I enjoyed it, but it was mostly forgetable. I'm sick of comic book movies. Too much punch this baddy out, then that one, and blow more shit up going on. It began with The Avengers and only got worse with Man of Steel and Winter Soldier. Enough non-stop violence posed as action please! The comedy in Guardians made it more charming, but can we please have some smart SF for once out of Hollywood?
Deana Whitney
20. Braid_Tug
@19: I agree, but do you really think it started with The Avengers?
It started way before them.
Katie Frey
21. TalithaSedai
@8w00master, @14naupathia: Eh, I'm in my early 30s, so I doubt its an old vs young thing, at least where I am concerned. I didn't grow up listening to a lot of music... Ok, that makes me seem so deprived.... It's not like I was without music, it just wasn't a thing to have the radio on at home or in the car... I don’t know where else I would have had exposure to songs from the 70s/80s?

@9SerDragonReborn: For me, not knowing the songs ahead of time did hamper my viewing. Or at least, I could basically make no sense how the music related to what I saw. I could either focus on trying to understand the lyrics or just sorta tune out the song and pay attention to what was going on. If I don’t -listen- to lyrics, they usually sail right past me without much impression...but if I do -listen- to lyrics, then I'm too focused to pay attention to the movie. The only melody I actively remember from the movie was "hooked on a feeling" and that only because I saw the trailer several times. The rest... well, I cant remember anything about the other songs.
So...yea..the songs aren't connected in my mind to GotG, and if the lyrics were pertinent to the scene, it just went over my head. If I was more familiar with them ahead of time, things might have gelled more. Ah well.

@8w00master, @14naupathia: You know, my above comment to SerDragonReborn probably explains why I didn't recognize any of the songs. If they had been in other movies or whatever, I probably just let it sail right by without registering...
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
22. Lisamarie
So, aside from a few references I saw on, I have actually never heard of this movie before it came out. We don't watch TV (I'm not trying to be hipster-y or snobby, but we just don't) except for a few shows we have on DVD, we don't ever get out to new movies (two toddlers at home) and I don't really read the newspaper/mainstream media news sources. So I tend to be in kind of a bubble at times, except for what I see on Tor or occasionally Facebook/via friends at work and blogs.

Anyway, nothing about it really appealed to me so I bout I'll see it - but I had no idea this hype machine was even happening. And I also am pretty much totally ignorant of most music so I bet I wouldn't recognize any of the songs. In fact, a bunch of the songs on the new Weird Al album I only just heard through the songs and then looked them up after the facts (imagine my shock when I looked up the video for the song Word Crimes was based on o_0 - although I actually had heard of the song and even some of the lyrics, I just had no clue what it sounded like. In a way it just made the parody even sweeter, haha).

I also tend to be a bit skeptical of hype - in fact, it took me awhile to read Harry Potter for just that reason. But once I'm in, I'm in - in fact, I love what you said about knowing you are being manipulated and loving it anyway, because sometimes I really do feel that way. I can tell that something was done to be just so and appeal to people like me, and I love it anyway. I have to admit, I have kind of a weakness to stuff that feels like a big 'in joke'. Sometimes it falls flat - I tend to hate most comedies because I just don't find them funny at all, because I can tell the situations are all completely contrived.

Music is another big one - I'm not a terribly emotional person, but music is actually one of the very few things that will bring tears to my eyes, even as I know I'm being played like a fiddle.

"Even the trailers for all the Star Wars prequels are excellent. I’m no prequel hater, but I know they suck. But those prequel trailers? I still think they’re tops." - this just made me laugh, becuase it is so true :) I remember planning my day over the first airing of the TPM trailer, recording it, and then watching it over and over and over again. By the time RotS came out, I had access to streaming internet and man, I remember practically crying with excitement at that one.
23. puck
Ryan, just to add another bit of bizarre market-hype mind-f--k to your article: Cowboys & Aliens was NEVER a comic before it was sold as a movie property. The comic WAS marketing in order to get the stalled movie on track again for the original schemers. They went so far as to severly under-price their book and THEN pay comic shops' to order an amount that would make it look like a best-seller! The entire thing, start-to-finish was a very under-handed attempt to make the property LOOK viable. Clearly, this made no difference to the outcome.

Source: Bleeding Cool,
Liz J
24. Ellisande
The Marvel Hype Train is getting personally exhausting - I still enjoy the movies, but the lead up to them is relentless. GotG marketing started pretty heavily the instant Winter Soldier was in theaters, and now Ultron's starting, and I'm already dreading the barrage of trailers and clips and flashy ads on all the websites. Logically, I know this is functionally no different than any other big movie promotion, but since It's All Connected(tm), it feels like One Giant Promotion that Never Ends...

Related to that:
@11 yeah, that. The marketing was 100% "from the Studio that Brought You the Avengers!!!" The fact that the characters were unknown didn't matter; they're selling the brand now. Or as someone pointed out, the Marvel Movies are a television show for the screen. Individual episodes may or may not be the best, but it doesn't matter. Audiences are now invested in the ongoing saga, no different from The Walking Dead or any other property that's achieved some kind of pop culture significance.
25. Judy in SATX
I've seen a lot of the hype, which made me curious. But what really made me excited about seeing the movie was the raves from a lot of friends - not all of whom are comic or action movie aficionados.
26. Roy Batty

Interesting. So for that reason I'm glad it fell flat on its mopey face. What a saddle sore of a movie!
27. JoR
@20: yeah, it started before Avengers, but it feels like Whedon's flick took non-stop action to a new level. For me, Avengers is when it all became too exhausting to watch.
John Massey
28. subwoofer
Hype machine. Right.

Let's do some general house keeping to give folks an idea of where I am coming from.

Guardian's was a good movie. Fun. Good casting. Would have been better with Fillion at the helm.

Cowboys and Aliens was ok. The whole blaster on the wrist thing got old fast.

Avatar. Gah. Cameron still owes me 5 hours of my life back for Titanic.

I saw somebody mention Avengers. I like some of it, but I really do not like Iron Man. I don't like the comics, nor am I a fan of RDJ. For me he will always be Julian from "Less Than Zero". I can't shake that.

The one thing I liked about this movie was that the action sequences were clean, I could actually track what was going on with my eyes. It was not like some Michael Bay tragedy where you just see elbows and bumpers and figure they are either fighting or making out. I dunno, some folks grunt when they do other stuff...

The Infinity Guantlet. AHHHH. Can we get to that already? Here's the deal: in the comics, when Thanos got his hands on all the Gems, he kicked butt. Everybody died. Everybody. All the heroes came out of the woodwork. All the gods and celestial beings get whooped, even Eternity. If that would happen on the big screen- well, we would have a worthy contender to the LotR series in terms of awesomeness.

All the hype aside.

29. musicMusicMusic
TalithaSedai, if you're not listening to the lyrics, then you are definitely missing meaning in that movie. Peter Quill's mother loved to share her music with her son, she made those mix tapes for him, so she's singing those songs to him. "Come and get your love", "hooked on a feeling", "ain't no mountain high enough to keep me from you babe", those are the only thing he has of her left, and he gets to hear her over and over again telling him how much she loves him.

I wept. Both times I saw the movie.

If you don't have that kind of connection with music in your life, then I fully understand how that wouldn't do anything for you, but wanted you to hear what Star Lord hears.

Plus, there's that whole aspect that kids nowadays (and probably half the staff on this site, young as they are) don't understand, namely that a Walkman *was* the future back then. You could have music anywhere you went? Revolutionary!
Matt Stoumbaugh
31. LazerWulf
@29: I like your theory that the mixtape is Quill's mom's way of talking to him, but what is she trying to say with "Cherry Bomb" and "The Pina Colada Song"?
32. musicMusicMusic
@31 - That you can be kickass and that people are more than what they seem, respectively (IMHO)

...and uh, wut happened to 30? is that like floor 13 in skyscrapers?
33. Aluatrill
Um, this article is the first I have heard of Gaurdians of the Galaxy. I don't have cable quit that like 8 years ago only watch Netflix before that I watched hulu but I quit on hulu. I don't listen to radio because if I want to hear a song I just youtube it. So really the only ads that get to me are the ama's on reddit cause I like to read reddit. My wife likes to Facebook but she doesn't mention any ads to me. My children play xbox and watch mostly minecraft videos on youtube so the ads on there are the only ads my kids see since there are none to watch on Netflixs. So this Hype machine you are talking of I was aware of in Star-Wars Days but now it only exisits for those who want to follow. For us we choose not to and only watch whatever genere we are intreasted in. As far as movies well Sci-fi is my favorite genere and I want to see this movie simply because it is in the genre I want to watch and there has been a huge lack of scifi in the last few years.
Matt Stoumbaugh
34. LazerWulf
@32: Someone commented and then deleted it. Happened @16 as well.
Alan Brown
35. AlanBrown
Ryan, I would call this article more of a meditation on SF hype than a history, as it is pretty shallow as a history, just touching on a few examples along the way. And your statement on The Wizard of Oz is not correct--it was not a box office success until re-releases--originally it was considered somewhat of a flop. Its original release did not cover the studio's investment. It was instead a movie whose reputation grew over time.
It is interesting to note that Star Wars came about 40 years after the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials that inspired and influenced it. And it has been almost 40 years since Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, and this time, the influences from those earlier works are again clear. So the case that Guardians is a Star Wars for a new age does have some merit. But I think we will have to see if this new film has legs, and keeps making money (and more importantly, keeps exciting fans), before we annoint it as the Next Big Thing.
William S. Higgins
36. higgins
Making an excellent point in #4, Bluejay writes:
And isn't music always the in-movie hype man, getting us excited about what we're watching? Think of the Wagner in Apocalypse Now, or the Strauss in 2001. Brilliant choices all.
The Strausses, Bluejay. The Strausses in 2001.
37. FDS
Using "from the {pick one: writer/producer/yadda yadda}" is nothing new. Remember 'Steven Spielberg presents' to sell a movie that he was not directing? And do mainstream popcorn audiences really care that one of a team of writers or producers who brought them Brand Z is now trying to get them to love Brand X? This especially backfires with people like Orci or Simon Kinberg. I remember thinking (during first viewing), that Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a great story, well-plotted (meaning the finished product), but Jumper (interesting story, told in a pretty nonsensical manner and plotted/visualized generally poorly); This Means War and Sherlock Holmes (which I only caught on DVD) made me concerned about whether or not DOFP would be worth viewing in theaters this year.

GotG was, as noted by the posting and numerous comments here, excellent marketing. It may be a good film, I've no clue (although I will borrow the DVD from the library when it becomes available before the end of the year, same way I saw Frozen, FWIW). I'm also someone who had essentially only heard one or two of the songs in the trailers/ads and, those, mostly in other situations that give them no meaning or value to me (I do not listen to radio, unless you want to count KCRW as your standard radio station, and I stopped listening to them regularly in 2008 when I stopped driving in LA); as an example, 'call me, maybe' in 10 years would only have any meaning to me as a cute video featuring the London USA swim team. Had I no interest in that sport/team, the song would not trigger anything to me (I couldn't pick the music chords of any other supposed songs of the summer of the last 5 years or so if you held a gun to my head and forced me to make the attempt.)

On the other hand, the teaser and the first trailer of DOFP got me more excited to watch something in a theater, particularly in 3D, than anything else. Ditto the first (not second) trailer for the Dragon sequel. And likewise, as someone else noted above, Maleficent seemed far less interesting the more I heard/saw of it and had not other friends picked it, it would never have gotten my movie theater money.

It's a valid question of whether or not many people would have seen GotF has it come out Memorial Day weekend. Edge of Tomorrow got very good word of mouth, and actually played in many first run theaters (albeit not a full days run of shows and not in any big screens) well past the date of other movies released it's same weekend; yet it will be considered a failure of the summer while Guardians is the 'huge' 'classic' of this summer.

Oh, and I've not yet seen EoT, either....

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