You might have noticed that there’s been an uptick in Guardians of the Galaxy coverage here at the NOC. That’s because after this weekend, the whole world will be intimately familiar with the exploits of Drax, Gamora, Groot, Rocket, and Star-Lord. And until recently, most of the movie-going audience would have reacted to those names much in the same way that Djimon Hounsou’s character does in the movie’s trailers.
Let that sink in for a moment. By sometime Sunday evening, the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to be household names the world over.
This is a testament to how far ahead in the game Marvel Studios is when it comes to turning their pool of characters into mega popular, multimedia franchises. Lest we forget, but there was a time when Iron Man was considered a B-list character. At best. Now? He’s arguably Marvel’s most beloved superhero. More than Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four.
Iron Man besting those iconic Marvel heroes might be up for debate in comic shops every Wednesday, but numbers don’t lie. In terms of merchandising, marketing, and movie box office, Tony Stark is king. Just walk down the toy aisle. And the bedsheets aisle. And the grocery store. And the Halloween costume store. Iron Man is everywhere.
Back in 2006, when the newly independent studio bet it all on Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. to establish their cinematic universe, no one was prepared for the behemoth that Marvel would become. Think about it. Iron Man was announced the same year Superman Returns hit theaters and premiered two months before The Dark Knight broke records in July 2008. For all intents and purposes, the superhero genre was DC’s game to lose. While Warner Brothers was making films featuring the World’s Finest heroes, the suits at Marvel were coming up to bat with a character best known for being one of Ghostface Killah’s nicknames.
Fast forward six years later and Marvel has released ten films that have grossed nearly $6 billion in combined domestic box office. In those same six years, Warner Brothers released three movies: Green Lantern, The Dark Knight Rises, and Man of Steel for a total of $855 million. And while each of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been universally praised by critics and fans alike, “divisive” might be the best word used to describe each of the DC films released since 2008.
Meanwhile, as Warner struggled to bring their roster of iconic superheroes to the big screen (beyond Batman and Superman, that is), Marvel started announcing projects featuring obscure heroes like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and the freaking Guardians of the Galaxy! It was almost as if Marvel was just trolling DC with their movie announcements.
And if the early numbers are any indications, Guardians of the Galaxy is on pace to be another massive hit for the studio. In fact, it’s already breaking records, since it’s already the biggest pre-seller for an August opening in history, surpassing The Bourne Ultimatum’s seven-year old high-mark. Marvel is so confident about this film, they even made a big deal out of announcing Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for 2017 a full week before the movie was even released.
By the end of this week, I will have seen a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. And let’s say, for one second that it is in fact very, very good. And that the world then loves the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. I don’t even know what is happening anymore in the world. But I am excited. So excited. Like I needed to hype this movie up even more — in a way it’s got more riding on it than the big tentpole movies in the Marvel-U, mostly because success with this title (both critically and commercially) would pretty much seal the deal that Marvel can go ahead and do whatever the hell they want. So I just made a Star-Lord song. Guys, by the end of this week, people may LOVE STAR-LORD. I don’t even know anymore.
I don’t know either. What I do know is that by the time we finally see (all the) DC heroes on the big screen in 2016, Marvel will have released an Avengers sequel, an Ant-Man movie, a third Captain America — on the same day, natch — and a Doctor Strange.
So yeah, Marvel can pretty much do whatever they want, and it will make a bazillion dollars. With the success of the Guardians, maybe an Adam Warlock movie isn’t that far off?
Download “Star-Lord” for free here.