Watching the UK extended trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy that came out Tuesday, I was struck by how much it felt akin to Joss Whedon’s Serenity, the cinematic revival of his beloved but short-lived sci-fi western, Firefly.
Now compare that to Serenity’s trailer.
Obviously Serenity lacks aliens and “official” superheroes (but, hey, there’s River). BUT. Both follow a rag-tag group of marked criminals as they run from authorities and attempt to save the galaxy. Both have a roguish lead character attempting to organize the various group members into action. Both have comedy coming from the rebellious, rule-breaking these characters partake in to get the job done their own special way. Both are action-based ensemble movies.
Avengers worked like gang-busters because Whedon is a master of the ensemble. His work in television–Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly–and then in movies–Serenity, Cabin in the Woods, and Much Ado About Nothing–all involve juggling numerous characters, making sure they all have personality, motivation, stakes in the action, and an important job to play. Avengers was great because he wove together the personalities of disparate superheroes (and their films’ styles) and had them authentically bounce off of each other while also ensuring each was important alone too. Guardians needs to work in the same way to work at all.
So when Guardians started to seem pretty Whedonesque in that trailer, I did a quick bit of research and turned up an interview with James Gunn, Guardians‘ writer and director, where he speaks directly to Whedon’s involvement. The full article can be read here.
Turns out Whedon and Gunn are old friends and that Whedon pushed for Gunn to head up Guardians. Because of that and the close connections Guardians is going to have with Avengers 2, it’s no surprise that Whedon has helped shape the story and script. After seeing the first draft of Gunn’s script, Whedon told him to make it more of a Gunn film, which inspired Gunn to write a 7-page dialogue on the spaceship. Ironically, a scene like that would be right at home in Whedon’s Firefly.
But let me be crystal. I am ecstatic to find out that Whedon’s hand has been in the Guardians mixing bowl. His experience with ensembles, his tonal balancing of action, drama, and humor, and his wide-angle view of the Marvel universe means that Guardians will fit in with its siblings while also standing out as its own unique self.