Before Marvel Studios released Iron Man in 2008 it was considered a risk. Few non-comic book readers knew of the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist before Robert Downey Jr. swaggered his way onto the big screen, and the rest is history. Risk has once again been the watchword in the build-up to Guardians of the Galaxy, the tenth film in Marvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe. Granted, it’s a lot stranger than a man in a metal suit, but Marvel have since proven how adept they are at realising their characters on the big screen. Guardians is their reward for those previous nine pictures, and as directed by James Gunn it’s a delightfully fun ride.
Kicking off with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man (2008), the past six years have seen Marvel gradually build to become a blockbusting behemoth, the apex of which was ensemble adventure Avengers Assemble (2012). That success has granted Marvel the leeway to bring even more outlandish projects to the big screen, and in that regard Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is easily their riskiest venture yet. Directed by James Gunn, it’s the first and only ‘Phase Two’ instalment that isn’t a direct sequel to what’s already been established. As is the custom for big releases, the past few days have seen the marketing machine ramp up ahead of today’s big reveal, and now we finally have our first good look at our ‘cosmic Avengers’.
13 years ago, David Twohy introduced us to ruthless anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in Pitch Black, spawning something of a cult following in the process, and birthing a star in action hero Vin Diesel. The simplicity of that film was substituted for its world-building sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, a disappointingly messy follow up that almost crippled the franchise. The filmmakers passion for the character has led to an unlikely third instalment – simply titled Riddick – and thankfully it has more in common with the first effort than it does the second, as we witness the franchise thankfully returning to its roots.