On Monday July 7, Marvel hosted an exclusive preview screening of Guardians of the Galaxy at several movie theatres across the country, and I was one of the lucky few who got to attend (Pro tip: Annual Plus Membership on Marvel’s Unlimited app gets you all kinds of sweet perks). However, unlike other preview screenings I’ve attended, this was only a 17-minute sneak peek, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I know that sometimes movie studios will release a short scene for free online to promote the film, or attach it a 5-minute preview to another film in theatres, but…showing up at the movie theatres to watch 17-minutes of a movie that comes out in a month? That’s kinda weird, right?
And yet, I did it. I went, and I stood in line to watch a 17-minute “extended preview” of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I regret every second of it.
*Spoilers to follow*
Don’t get me wrong—those were some of the most enjoyable 17-minutes of film I’ve watched in a while. It was funny, it was exciting, it was intriguing, it was visually stunning, it was…basically everything that I have wanted this movie to be since the first casting announcements came out, and more. I was so engrossed and engaged with the world that when the preview ended, I felt suddenly disappointed—I wanted more!
I didn’t need this preview to convince me that Chris Pratt was the perfect Star-Lord, that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s modern incarnation of the Guardians as a dysfunctional space-family is every bit as weird and wacky and charming and most importantly full of heart as they were when I fell in love with them six years ago. Nope, all this preview really did was make me even more anxious and eager to see the movie on August 1—and considering how excited I was before, now I’m starting to get concerned for my health, that my little heart can’t handle the Christmas-morning-esque exhilaration.
Just to give you a little more space in case you missed the SPOILER warning above, here’s the newest trailer that came out on Tuesday, and accompanied Monday night’s screening:
The 17-minute segment began with the familiar footage of the Guardians being processed by John C. Reilly / Rhomann Dey and the Nova Corps (I suspect that this scene marks the beginning of the film’s second act, as the team is already both arrested and somewhat familiar with each other). In addition to what we’ve already seen in trailers, we learn that Peter Quill is a known associate of Michael Rooker’s Yondu and his Ravagers. Rhomann Dey also confirms that Gamora is the adopted daughter of the Mad Titan, Thanos, and adopted sister of Nebula. We still don’t know what leads to the team’s arrests, but Gamora’s presence suggests to Dey that there is a connection between Thanos and Ronan. (Here’s a rundown on the huge implications of THAT.)
From there, the team is marched into the actual prison, and we learn that they’re still new acquaintances. It seems that they were involved somehow in the heist of the orb (that we see Star-Lord grab in the trailers), and Gamora reveals that she was not in fact working for Ronan, but that she was planning to betray him and sell the orb to someone else. Star-Lord gets annoyed at Groot’s insistence on saying “I am Groot,” and lots of laughs are had—until Star-Lord tries to recover his walkman from the prison guard and ends up getting beaten down to a bloody pulp while happy music plays in the background. Also, Drax is suspiciously absent from this sequence (which we learn more about later).
In the central prison block, Gamora is vehemently heckled by the other inmates—she has quite the reputation, and it’s clearly not a good one. Rocket brags how he’s already broken out of twenty-two prisons with better security, and already has a plan in place. Another prisoner gets up in Star-Lord’s face, and Rocket decides to make an example of him: Groot grows some branches up the prisoner’s nose (OW!) while Rocket gives a speech to the rest of the cellblock that he’s not to be messed with, and that Groot, Gamora, and Star-Lord are with him and similarly not to be messed with.
It’s worth noting in these sequences that Rocket deftly demonstrates his skills as a tactician (and bad-ass), while Star-Lord seems mostly out of his element, instead of being a leader himself. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films, who helped director James Gunn get his start.
During a meal in the prison, Rocket explains his escape plan to Gamora and Star-Lord, which leads to a hilarious sequence where Groot just goes ahead with Rocket’s plan literally right behind his back while he’s talking to Gamora and Star-Lord. Unfortunately, since Groot didn’t wait for Rocket to finish explaining his plan, Groot accidentally trips the alarm, which puts all their plans into fast-forward.
The prison erupts into a huge riot, and it’s awesome. While Groot and Rocket distract the guards, Gamora steals one of the guard’s cybernetic arm implants, and Star-Lord tries to steal a prosthetic leg off of another inmate (which it turns out doesn’t actually help their plan; Rocket just thought it’d be funny). Drax shows up and joins the fight, lending a hand to Rocket and Groot and even stealing a gun for Rocket. The team eventually make their way into the prison watchtower, where Rocket hijacks some drones to help them escape. Rocket and Gamora are none-too-pleased that Star-Lord has invited Drax to join their merry band of thieves, and Groot is Groot. This moment is a great example of the team’s dynamic, as the reluctantly heroic Star-Lord explains his choice to let Drax tag along, and regrets it almost instantly as Drax begins pontificating in rigidly formal and polysyllabic language, like Conan the Barbarian with a PhD, prompting Star-Lord to refer to him as “Thesaurus,” which only serves to infuriate the Destroyer even more.
And with that, the team escapes from prison and is off to…the trailer that you saw above, and then that was the end of it.
I was particularly impressed with how well this short sequence conveyed the relationships between the cast in this weird space world, without having to slow down the scene with exposition to catch the audience up. It reminded me a lot of Serenity in that way, which I actually saw before I watched Firefly (whoops), and I think bodes well for making the film accessible to the general movie-going public.
That being said, there wasn’t that much in this sequence in terms of gravitas, or non-quippy-witty parts. It was certainly dark, seeing as they were in a grimy space-prison, but it never lost that feeling of light-hearted fun. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but a friend of mine (who is unfamiliar with the comics) expressed her concern on the walk home that so much of the marketing for the movie has focused exclusively on the funny parts, and this sequence was pretty much right in line with what we’ve already seen.
I suspect that this was a conscious decision on Marvel’s part to make the movie seem more accessible. Guardians of the Galaxy are not as much of a household name as Marvel’s other movie heroes, so the movie is already risky, but if this sequence was any indication, James Gunn is smartly focusing (as DnA’s comics, which served as inspiration) on the relationships rather than the convoluted space-y stuff (and even that, it addresses with a wink and a nod). I suspect we’ll see plenty of drama and emotional gravity in the film itself, if that’s your concern. I guess we’ll find out in OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY I HAVE TO WAIT FOUR MORE WEEKS UNTIL I SEE THE WHOLE MOVIE ARE YOU KIDDING ME GAAAAAAAAAAH
Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. Thom enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey and robots). He is a graduate of Clarion Writer’s Workshop at UCSD, and he firmly believes that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is the single worst atrocity committed against mankind. He’s totally a Star-Lord Chris Pratt. Find out more at thomdunn.net.