Guardians of the Galaxy brings 'em all in. Who's gone before?
With Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel takes to the stars to bring us the weirdest team ever assembled. TOAD takes a look at cinema’s other unlikely groups.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) When have we ever been able to see a human thief, a green-skinned assassin, a brawling maniac, an eight-foot tree and a talking raccoon team up and wreak havoc? Never so far, but Guardians of the Galaxy is giving us that chance. When Peter Quill (played by funnyman Chris Pratt) is abducted from Earth when he is just a boy, he grows up to become Star-Lord, an Indiana Jones-style adventurer who roams the Galaxy in search of the next expensive artifact to steal. Things go wrong, however, when he tries to nab the wrong relic, a powerful orb of much interest to some dangerous people who throw him in jail. There, he crews up with Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket, an assorted bag of aliens with issues, and with their combined strength (and sheer eccentricity) smash out of prison and into a quest to save the Galaxy.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Back in 2000, we witnessed nine companions – four hobbits, two nen, a dwarf, an elf, and a wizard – take to Middle-Earth’s high road on a very important mission: To destroy the One Ring by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom, and save the land. It would take just over a decade for director Peter Jackson to return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, and get another pint-sized hero to embark on a similar journey to a mountain; Bilbo Baggins, a reluctant hobbit, is enticed onto an adventure with thirteen dwarves, led by the brave, reckless Thorin Oakenshield, and guided by the wily sorcerer Gandalf. You’d probably raise an eyebrow or two if you saw this lot strolling down the street. Thankfully, their journey takes them toward the Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo will help the dwarves attempt to reclaim their homeland – and in this December’s final chapter, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, we’ll find out if they succeed.
Team America: World Police (2004) One of the strangest of all movie team-ups, Team America: World Police doesn’t seem that odd on paper; an actor, Gary Johnston, is recruited by an elite anti-terrorism group, and together they must defend the world from the forces of evil. That all sounds rather unlikely, but is a rather basic plot as far as action movies go; the difference with Team America is that it’s all played out with Thunderbirds-style puppets. With this added silliness, it makes the movie ripe for all kinds of tongue-in-cheek fun. But the weirdest part is we end up laughing with these marionettes, not at them – which is the real triumph of puppet-masters Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who first hit the big time with South Park. It would seem they not only hold the strings to these foul-mouthed dolls, but to our funny bones too.
Space Jam (1996) A team-up as bizarre as it was a cash-in, Space Jam sees the Looney Toons gang – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and others – faced with the obliteration of their cartoon home by an alien race, unless they win a basketball game. They travel to our world to recruit the best b-ball player they can find, who happens to be the incredibly famous Michael Jordan. As ridiculous as this sounds, its curious mix of fifty-year-old cartoon characters, modern day real-life sports superstars, and – ahem – trolls from space was a huge smash with audiences, who couldn’t get enough of its crazy premise, or the conveyor belt of merchandise that appeared afterward. The movie’s sense of fun far outweighed its stranger points, proving that weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It didn’t hurt having Bill Murray, the king of weird humour himself, making a guest appearance either.
Serenity (2007) As much as fans loved the TV show Firefly, that didn’t stop it getting cancelled back in 2002 after just one series. The science-fiction programme, set in the far future, saw the gruff Captain Mal (played by Nathan Fillion) reluctantly get together a group of space-faring outcasts to help out on his starship; some are on the run from the law, some are merely social outcasts – and one even has psychic abilities. Demand for Firefly, essentially a Western set among the stars, was so great, it prompted creator Joss Whedon to make a movie – Serenity – to finally tie up all the loose ends. A lot of both Serenity and Firefly can be seen in the gritty, gung-ho moments of Guardians of the Galaxy – the brand new Marvel comics team-up to follow The Avengers, which, interestingly enough, also had Whedon at the creative reins.