August 7th, 2014
|01:32 am - I liked Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I liked What If Galactus Landed on Rocket's Halfworld?|
I knew "Guardians of the Galaxy" would be the best Marvel movie yet. I knew this because inside my head, I let it be.
Consider "Daredevil", the movie about my favorite costumed hero. I knew it would suck. I knew everything about that movie would be wrong — from the day they announced the green light, and until the day the last of its hellborne DVD copies biodegrades. I never saw it.
I never saw "Daredevil" the movie, and no one shall persuade me. Keri Russell could say "Come on, let's watch the Daredevil movie, and then we'll cosplay Ben Urich, the newspaper reporter Daredevil trusts with his secret identity, and Mrs. Urich."
"Sorry, babe," I'd say.
Then Keri Russell would say "OK, how about we do Matt Murdock and Karen Page?".
"Ha," I'd say. "You could not play Karen Page. Begone, Keri Russell."
"Wait! I have authority to greenlight you to write and direct a Daredevil movie!"
"No," I'd say, with a voice of steel. "What does a comic book nerd have if he doesn't have his principles?!"
When the creator of The Guardians of the Galaxy comic picked up Rocket Raccoon — my favorite non-costumed hero — I said "Yeah, OK, but I don't have to read it." Then news broke about the movie, and I said: "Yes, my stash of Incredible Hulk 271's is my new Apple stock! But I'm not going to see the movie, because that isn't Rocket."
Secretly, I hoped it would be better than good. When Bradley Cooper landed the part of Rocket's voice, I found hope. Then every bit of news about the forthcoming blockbuster was positive, and its release date was my birthday, August 1.
They made the Rocket Raccoon movie for me!, I kidded myself. But I was playing chess that night, and touring Presidential monuments all weekend. That gave Rotten Tomatoes enough time to compile a nearly-unanimous Fresh vote by the top critics (except for San Francisco's Mick LaSalle). My favorite film writer — slate dot com's Dana Stevens — said "Bradley Cooper gives one of his best performances to date as the voice of a trash-talking space raccoon." YES!
First thing I did when I got back to San Mateo Sunday night was to visit the multiplex. Fell asleep before 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" is heard (my chess friend Greg 35 years ago that "I'm Not in Love" reminded him of me, and I could never be pissed off about his equating me with the loser in that song because it's such a good song), woke up to try another screening room, slept through it there, too. So damn tired I was mistaken about having my phone when I left the theater.
Monday was spent readjusting to the Pacific time zone and my own bed. Tuesday there was dinner with Caroline. Wednesday I could stay awake in the theater.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is smartly funny and wordily funny, but not self-congratulatory about it. It's inventive in ways that remind us there's still scope left for imaginative storytelling in comic book movies. The script shows concern for innocent bystanders!
The movie Rocket is a possible Rocket, in my rigid interpretation of a beloved character. The movie Rocket is a cross between Procyonn the sword-dueling raccoon, Marx the beaver bartender, and Hoban Washburne. If you know Procyonn and Marx and Wash, see what you think — you'll quite understand why I was so delighted with "Guardians".
There's another odd mystical connection between me and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.
Fifteen or 20 years ago, I wrote the story "What If Galactus Landed on Rocket Raccoon's Halfworld?". Galactus is getting hungry, his location scout/herald nowhere to be found, and the next planet he comes across is Halfworld. Halfworld is the home of crazy humans, and animals who evolved from pets into caretakers, like our hero Rocket Raccoon. It's time on Halfworld for the annual Masquerade, and a young Loony runs up to Rocket — dressed like the raccoon. "I'm going to play you in the Masquerade, Ranger Rocket!" says the kid, and for the rest of the story, he gets into trouble while trailing Rocket and mimicking his moves. Galactus lands. Meanwhile, the harpies and the killer clowns of Halfworld have determined Masquerade is a prime time to menace the Loonies. Galactus calmly goes about his business, setting up his Matter-Eater-World-Munching machine. The crazy humans are dancing around his big purple feet, oblivious to the danger. The animals are defending against the harpies and clowns. One of the clown cars slams into Galactus' foot, which annoys him enough to finger-zap the clowns to dust. Rocket realizes he'll have to be the diplomat to save his planet from being ravaged. "Galactus!" Rocket yells for attention. Galactus is hungry and grumpy, and without looking, points the finger toward the sound of a talking raccoon. Galactus fires, but the Loony kid dives in, sacrificing himself. There's a tear-jerking death scene, and then Rocket is furious. "Galactus! Leave my planet, and I shall be your herald!!", he cries. I totally hand-waved how Rocket knows to volunteer for this particular duty. Then the illustrator draws some awesome panels in which the kid miraculously struggles to his feet, then mimicks Rocket's play. "I shall be your herald," the kid says, as strongly as he muster. Galactus looks down at the Loony kid, posed and dressed like the raccoon for whom he sacrifices himself twice, and all the nuthouse ballroom dancing and walrus pilots gunning down flying reptiles and clown cars.
And Galactus laughs. Regally and briefly, Galactus laughs, then flies away.
I liked that story. I wish I could share the entire thing with you — I wrote songs and costume descriptions for the Masquerade, consulted air combat history books to choreograph the Wal Rus air victory — but to duplicate it would be lots of work that wouldn't live up to the memory of the original.
If you've seen "Guardians", you understand why I was thinking about my Rocket Raccoon story during Starlord's dance.
Glad to hear you liked it this much!
The first Iron Man probably still ranks as my favorite Marvel film, just because it has so much of what I like about Tony Stark in it, but GOTG is totally a very close #2.