4. Guardians of the Galaxy watched on 1/3/15 It's not the best Marvel film so far, that's Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It's not the biggest Marvel film so far, that's still The Avengers. But it's the most fun I had in a movie theater this (technically last) year and I'm so glad to have it available to watch again and again with my family now.
The boys (J, almost 7, R 5 & a half) heartily approve of what is their second Marvel Cinematic Universe film so far (after The Avengers, some of the solo movies get a little dark for them still) and agree that Groot is the coolest new addition to the Marvel universe. None of us can wait for the next cosmic story.
There's lots to like here, and many reasons the film is noteworthy. The big points to me:
1. Marvel is truly capable of elevating niche characters and plot lines to mainstream interest and acceptance.
2. There is no need to recast roles in the MCU, we can and should continue to push the universe wider introducing new heroes as old ones fall (or become too expensive in the case of Mr. Stark).
3. Star Wars is in excellent hands. Disney has allowed Marvel to do what they do best, but given them an unlimited canvas and bag of resources to pull from, while giving them grander ambitions and goals than they even had for themselves. There is no reason we shouldn't expect the same for Lucasfilm and the Star Wars series in particular.
But most of all, it introduced me to Chris Pratt. He's my favorite thing about the movie, and while I can imagine a few other people in the role (Lee Pace, who plays Ronan was rumored for it, Zachary Levi, maybe even John Krasinski, who was originally favored for Captain America, how different a world THAT would be!) I can't imagine anyone of them now replacing him ala Don Cheadle as War Machine or Ruffalo as The Hulk. Pratt made Star Lord his own, and endeared him to a million little boys and girls all over the world. Everyone knew the potential of Groot and Rocket to sell merchandise, but Star Lord (and Pratt behind his mask) are responsible for capturing imaginations and that is a real franchise starter.