Tag Archives: Zoe Saldana

The Modern Pantheon: Guardians of the Galaxy

gg3

Last week, I mentioned two departures from the norm in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first I reviewed is Doctor Strange. The second is actually two movies, so far. The first (as if you couldn’t tell from the above picture) is…

gg2

Let’s get this out of the way first. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, Disney Marvel Studios, directed by James Gunn) has an extensive ensemble cast: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill (Starlord), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udanta, an unrecognizableKaren Gillan as Nebula, John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Lee Pace as Ronan, and Josh Brolin as the voice of Thanos. There are more, but I’m getting tired. Much could be said about the plot, characters, acting, soundtrack, and special effects of this very entertaining movie. I’m choosing instead to focus on the cosmic and mythological aspects of its well-scripted story.

gg1

This is the first movie which offers more information on Thanos, a multidimensional character invented by writer Jim Starlin for Marvel Comics. He has otherwise been seen only in outro sequences for Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. A little of his backstory is provided in this movie. If the MCU does any justice to this character, he will prove a good psychological and mystical study. I look forward to seeing more of him.

Thanos2-GOTG
From Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), directed by James Gunn

Of course, Thanos and several others are after an artifact which turns out to be an Infinity Stone.

gg4

gg9

Benicio Del Toro does a good turn as The Collector. I enjoyed the sequence where he explains the history of the Infinity Stones. This scene infuses the MCU with an interesting cosmology.

gg10

One of my unanswered questions was the lineage of Peter Quill. His mother was an earthling, but the exceptional identity of his father is not revealed in this first movie. It hints at a mythological nature which enables him to hold onto the Infinity Stone for as long as he does without being destroyed.

gg8

I think it appropriate to mention Groot in this context as well. Despite his violent capabilities, he is a benevolent creature who looks out for his friends and ultimately sacrifices himself for them. Like many Marvel characters, though, he isn’t really dead. The comics as well as the movies of Marvel utilize a number of resurrection themes. I attribute this more to an economic need to provide suspense and to bring characters back for future installments than to any religious motivation, but I still appreciate the additional depth it provides when done properly.

gg6

Surf in again next week. There will be plenty more to follow…

gg5

Heroes, Gods, Monsters, and…

Perseus saves Andromeda in this painting by Edward Burne-Jones
Perseus saves Andromeda in this painting by Edward Burne-Jones

Heroes in mythology interact with a variety of constituents. They are cursed or favored by the gods. Sometimes they are sired or born by them. Romantic liaisons have been described between gods and mortals. A hero may be called upon to do battle with (or enlist the help of) some kind of fantastic beast, and it is not unusual for this to be in response to the wrath of (or a commission from) the gods. Men of ancient valor have also been portrayed as lovers, assailants, or rescuers of beautiful maidens.

Andromeda by Gustave Dore
Andromeda by Gustave Dore

This brings us to the “AND” in the title for today’s blog. Myths feature heroes, gods, monsters, and (perhaps tellingly) helpless and often scantily clad women. As an example, try finding a portrait of Andromeda in which she is not wearing nothing or next to nothing. Then, of course, there are the chains. All of this is in accordance with the written account of her rescue from the sea serpent by Perseus, and it may be argued that this reflects historical and cultural attitudes toward women and their roles in society.

New mythologies can be of social benefit by fashioning noble and honorable niches for female characters. Regardless of what the reader might think of the movie Avatar (directed by James Cameron), it does contain some of the characteristics of a modern myth: a spiritual element, a hero, an invading army, monsters, and a love interest. Neytiri (as played by Zoe Saldana) is in some ways stereotypical, but she is far from weak. Okay, she is scantily clad.

Still shot from Avatar, director James Cameron, 2009
Still shot from Avatar, director James Cameron, 2009

In the stories I write, I try to portray women and girls as having more strength and depth, and I am currently attempting to develop plot lines for future works in which they assume more central and heroic roles. I owe that much to my wife and my daughters.