Derivative much? Granted, this particular Guardians of the Galaxy banner was a deliberate homage to Star Wars, but it just shows you how much of the Star Wars template the Guardians of the Galaxy movie really did lift. Although Star Wars was the far more impressive movie, and it's not even a close race. But I don't really want to talk about the movie, per se. I wanted to talk more about how people generally reacted to the movie, and how the perceived "riskiness" of making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie was overblown to the high heavens.
Since the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, I've heard it repeated ad nauseum that Marvel is such a risky studio because they made a movie about a "talking tree and racoon". But like I state in my title, the risk was no more than a Captain America movie would have faced, or a Thor movie, or any other movie, probably even less so. Allow me to explain. who doesn't love cute critters? Almost every financially successful animated movie has an array of anthrophomorphic characters in them. To a studio's perception, this isn't risky, this is a sure thing. Throw in a taciturn tree, a wisecrackin' racoon, and make them look cute, and hello $$$. Even The Lord of the Rings had talking trees.
The tactic to use cute and adorable anthropomorphic characters is such a tried and true formula to make money at the box office, I'm amazed that people genuinely think Marvel did something risky with Guardians of the Galaxy. Just have a look at the highest grossing movies of all time, I'd say at least 75% of them feature anthropomorphic characters. They don't even have to be anthropomorphic animals either, they can be anything really. Just, not human. They don't even need to talk. Just generally look somewhat cute, and be funny and adorable, and that's the ticket right there.
Whatever the anthropomorphic character is, history has proven that they're a relatively easy sale. Kids and adults are smitten with them, especially kids. It doesn't even matter whether the movie be animated, live action, or a combination of both. They sell. I'll even give you some examples in no particular order. Bear in mind that anthropomorphism is defined as anything non-human that displays human-like characteristics.
Top 60 animated movies featuring anthropomorphic characters
Top 60 live action movies featuring anthropomorphic characters
We're looking at approximately $75 billion at the box office for these 120 movies alone. Like I said before, most of the highest grossing movies of all time are here. Never mind all the money that comes from licensing and merchandise year after year either, and that's where all the big $$$ are for movies nowadays. The bottom line is, anthropomorphism sells. Did you notice anything while looking through some of the movies I provided? Most of them were made by none other than Disney. So the choice to make a movie about a "talking tree and raccoon", as so many fans like to boast about, was nothing extraordinarily risky for them. Quite the contrary, using cute anthropomorphic characters is taken straight out of the first page of Disney's playbook.
It's also somewhat specious to tout that Marvel had the balls to make a movie about a "talking tree and raccoon" as if they were the only characters that comprised the Guardians of the Galaxy cast. Guardians of the Galaxy was anchored by the up and comer Chris Pratt, and the "queen of sci-fi" Zoe Saldana. It's disingenuous to marginalize their involvement while exaggerating the "talking tree and raccoon" aspect of the movie. Combine all these facets of the movie, and you're about as close as you can get to it being a "sure thing". On top of that is the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy enjoyed the safety net that the Marvel Universe provides, being another link in the never ending chain of Marvel movies that people are sure to see, no matter what.
As if that wasn't enough, have a look at how many live action remakes/prequels/sequels/whatever Disney has in active development in the pipeline. Alice in Wonderland kicked it off with a cool billion at the box office, Maleficent followed with $750 million, then Cinderella took in $550 million, and then The Jungle Book came in with another $950 million. Then there's Beauty and the Beast on the horizon, Mulan, The Lion King, The Sword in the Stone, Dumbo, Prince Charming, Aladdin, 101 Dalmatians, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book 2, Maleficent 2, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Rose Red, The Little Mermaid, James and the Giant Peach, Chip 'n' Dale, Mary Poppins, and even a Chernabog movie. All featuring anthropomorphic characters to varying degrees. Disney was even so arrogant about the success of Guardians of the Galaxy that in the marketing for the movie, their tagline was "You're Welcome". Rather presumptuous, wouldn't you say?
I'm not saying that movies featuring anthropomorphic characters are guaranteed to succeed, Pete's Dragon came and went last year without much ado. There's no such thing as guaranteed moneymakers, but there's certainly such a thing as likely moneymakers, and throwing a couple of cute and funny faces into the mix isn't going to hurt their chances to succeed any. The function of these anthropomorphic characters is to appeal to that part of us that wants to stop and look at puppies or play with kittens, and that's the kind of thing that most people never grow out of.
I didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy, I found it unbelievably overrated. To me it was just one long exposition dump that was full of MacGuffins and stilted dialogue, but that's neither here nor there. I'm not talking about the movie itself, I'm talking about how people tried to herald it as Disney's ballsiest move in decades when it was anything but. Risky? I say Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel's laziest movie to date, and also Marvel's most "Disney" movie to date. Although Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is just around the corner, so we may have a new contender.
Written by - The Sentry - 02/03/2017