Open on young Peter Quill. His mom is dying in the hospital. She gives him a present and keeps talking about his father being an angel. She dies and he runs outside, only to be abducted by an alien ship.
Flash forward twenty years and millions of miles to a desolate planet where Peter Quill, now Star Lord, relieves an abandoned temple of the silver orb you've seen in the trailers. Korath shows up with some Kree goons, but Quill escapes and heads to the home of the Nova Corp where he plans to fence the artifact for cash.
Meanwhile, Ronan the Accuser gets the news that Korath has failed in securing the orb and is none too pleased. Turns out he's promised to retrieve the orb for Thanos, who, in return, will destroy Xandar for him. The Mad Titan is so adamant about this orb that he even let Ronan borrow his two adopted daughters / augmented assassins, Gamora and Nebula.
Gamora heads out to Xandar to find Quill. Meanwhile, fortune hunters Rocket and Groot are on Xandar looking for a quick buck as they scan the locals for anyone with a bounty (Stan Lee cameo alert) when they come across Quill.
Peter attempts to sell the orb to an underhanded antiquities dealer, but when the trader finds out just who is after the object, he has second thoughts and kicks Peter out; and that's when Gamora, Rocket, and Groot decide to nab him. An elaborate chase sequence plays out through the streets of Xandar, but in the end, the Nova Corp spoils the fun and arrests everyone.
As Quill, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora head to The Kyln for lock up, two important things come to light: One, Peter was not working alone; he was supposed to share the orb's spoils with fellow space pirate Yondu who is livid and willing to fly across space for revenge and two, Ronan and Nebula have problems with authority; While visiting Thanos' flying throne rock, Ronan and Nebula have harsh words for the Mad Titan's right hand man, The Other, after he lectures them about showing respect for his master (things don't turn out well for one of them). This scene is the only one where Thanos is present (he pops up again later, but only on a screen/hologram for a few seconds). The Avatar of Death assures Ronan the plan is still in place and that Xandar is toast if he returns with the object.
Space prison is not pretty for the four future Guardians, especially Gamora; being the (adopted) daughter of Thanos has made her plenty of enemies, Drax the Destroyer chief among them. After Gamora gets cornered by vengeful prisoners, Drax stakes his claim as the one to kill her and almost does, but Gamora assures him that she has no love for daddy and that she'd love to take out her father more than anyone. Things calm down long enough for Rocket to devise a plan to escape, after which they'll head to the mysterious Collector who will pay enough for the orb that all of them can retire and go their own ways.
With Drax along for the ride, they manage to escape and head to the giant Celestial's cranium where The Collector talks all things infinite and gem-like, giving the Guardians a demonstration of the danger lurking within the orb: the purple gem of power. But things quickly turn south inside Knowhere as both Yondu and Ronan arrive looking for a fight.
I love Marvel movies, but I was scared to see this because I was worried it was going to be bad. The movie is in a tough position because it is full of unknown characters it has to introduce together (unlike every other MCU origin stories which only had to focus on showcasing one character), it's got some really goofy space/animal elements to balance, and it has to set up Thanos and the Infinity Gems which will obviously be a huge corner stone of the MCU. Not only that, but James Gunn is a risky bet. I loved Slither and his PG Porn series, but I was disappointed by Super and the Scooby movies. Mix both those elements together, a complicated movie that needs to bend in a lot of directions and a hit/miss writer and director, and what do you get?
A great movie, as it turns out.
Granted, the effects aren't done and a lot can change between now and August, but if they keep on the track they're going, it will be solid. I don't want to spoil the fun, so here are few things that surprised me:
- Unlike any other Marvel movie. A lot more comedic than expected.
- Ronan, Nebula and Yondu look amazing.
- The prison escape sequence is brilliant.
- As expected, lots of neat easter eggs in The Collector's collection, including a cosmic puppy.
- Rocket steals the show. Bradley Cooper's voice is perfect.
- But that doesn't mean the others don't shine - they do, especially Drax. I was impressed with how well you knew most of the characters by the end.
- The soundtrack plays a huge part, both in the setting tone and being part of the story.
- You find out where Peter Quill and the team get their names.
Bottom line: it's not perfect. There are parts that drag, some action sequences that aren't as strong as one might hope, and some puzzling/unexplained motivations. The good news is that there's time to fix these things and, even if they don't solve everything, it'll still be a lot of fun. No matter what, I will absolutely be in line to go see it opening day.