Podcast: THROWBACK: Guardians of the Galaxy

Officially throwing it back to LAST YEAR, when Daryl and Jay were joined by Justin Weaver to dig deeper into Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1! Check out what these three had to say about one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Also… be sure to read Ashley‘s thoughts below!

Ashley’s Take:

One of the most impressive things about “Guardians of the Galaxy” is how relatable they made such strange and unknown characters. Which character do you find yourself relating to the most and why?

When I first heard that Marvel was making a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie featuring a walking tree, a talking raccoon, and some guy named Star-Lord, I feared the Marvel Cinematic Universe might have its first real flop. I was really curious to see how these characters would transfer to film, and I ended up being blown away by how amazing, funny, and emotional this movie was. The key to all that is, despite how wacky the characters sound at first, Marvel did a great job making them feel authentic.

All the Guardians are relatable in their own way, but probably the ones I relate to the most are Rocket and Peter Quill. They’re characters who both project a certain image, which they actually use to hide the pain, loneliness, and frustration festering underneath. Although Peter comes across as this funny, light-hearted guy who’s always ready to crack a joke, he struggles to fit in and find his place in the galaxy after losing his mother and being abducted at a young age. Similarly, Rocket comes across as a super-tough loner who doesn’t need anyone or anything, but sometimes he too feels like a reject.

I feel like I’ve spent the past decade of my life learning how to be more comfortable with myself and finding the self-confidence to let my true personality shine through. I’ve embraced my quirks and let myself be more vulnerable with people, even making some new friends in the process. That’s why the Guardians’ journey really resonates with me!

 

Quill, Gamora, and Drax have all suffered loss of family and seen their lives turned upside down because of it. Quill has nothing more than a few memories and a couple mixtapes connecting him to where he came from. Gamora has spent her life amongst enemies after Thanos killed her parents and raised her to be a weapon. Drax has been motivated only by revenge since Ronan killed his wife and daughter. How does the void from a lost loved one shape us, and how do we seek hope beyond that suffering?

Losing someone we love is like a wound; you may heal in time, but you’ll always have a scar reminding you of what happened.

When we lose a loved one, many times it feels like losing a part of ourselves. Our memories with that person become bittersweet, and even the happiest times are now tinged with sadness. Holidays, birthdays, etc. will never be the same.

Trying to hide or squelch that grief isn’t healthy; we see Peter trying to act happy and carefree all the time, but his mother’s death continues to haunt him. Seeking revenge isn’t healthy either, and we can see how that motivation has damaged Gamora and Drax.

The only way to truly deal with grief is to embrace it, and to process that sadness and anger and reflect on how it will change us going forward. However, we shouldn’t allow our pain to ultimately isolate us, cutting us off from the rest of the world or making us bitter. We have to reach out and find love again, which is hard, because anytime you do that, you open yourself up to potentially experiencing loss again. We need connections with other people, no matter how painful and messy and complicated those connections can sometimes be. Which actually leads right into the next question…

 

The desire for community and belonging is what holds the Guardians (our heroes) together and makes them care about each other. Conversely, Thanos, Ronan, and Nebula (our villains) show a lack of regard for others whatsoever. What is the relationship between community and being “good”? Do we need others to help us grow?

Community is so important, and it’s a vital part of a fulfilling life. Although I’m an introvert and treasure my “alone time,” I feel lonely when I spend too much time away from family and friends. We were created to crave meaningful connections with fellow humans, and we run into trouble if we isolate ourselves too much.

We need other people to support us and keep us accountable. Everybody needs the kind of friends that will pull you aside if they see you going down the wrong path and making poor decisions. These are the kind of faithful friends that won’t abandon you even when life gets tough; they’ll fight alongside you — which is exactly the sort of friendship the Guardians find with each other.

Being part of a community teaches us how to think beyond ourselves and put the needs of others before our own. It’s harder to live selfishly when you have other people around you that are relying on you.

 

Put any two of the Guardians together and you end up with a strange picture of friendship. None of them are alike, yet they find common ground. What is the value in seeking relationships with people who are different from us?

It’s easy to gravitate towards people who think and act similarly to us, and share our same interests. You can’t have conflict when you and your friends are pretty much the same, right? However, if we only associate with people who are a lot like us, we run the risk of creating an echo chamber filled with potentially incorrect beliefs and assumptions that never get challenged because there are no dissenting voices.

Just like the Guardians balance each other out, I think it’s healthy to seek out relationships with people who challenge us and deepen our understanding of the world. Develop friendships with people who come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs. You don’t have to agree with them, but it’s good to get an alternate opinion and learn to listen — really listen — to someone who offers a new perspective.

 

In the ungoverned vastness of space, where do law and morality fit into the idea of good versus evil?

I feel that deep down, people have a basic idea of what is good and what is bad. As a person of faith, I think this inner moral compass is embedded in us by a higher power. Regardless of whether there is a formal system of laws or a government to enforce these laws, people know that certain things are good — like kindness and compassion — and certain things are evil — like killing other people.

Even though the Guardians operate outside the constraints of the government and get to play more fast and loose with the rules than, say, the Avengers, they still have a moral code that guides their actions. They are definitely on the “good” side (even if they may not want to admit it). Gamora rebels against Thanos because she knows what he is doing is wrong and she doesn’t want him to hurt others. Drax loved his wife and daughter very much and grieves their loss. And even though Rocket acts like he doesn’t care about anyone else, we can see how much he cares about Groot.

 

The Marvel films have suffered criticism of many of their villains, Ronan being one of the biggest offenders. What is it that makes us care about a villain? How should it relate to our real lives in order to connect as good storytelling?

Ah, Ronan. The only reason I kind of give him a pass in this movie is that the Guardians are such strong, interesting characters that you *almost* don’t care that the villain is weak. But to be fair, this movie would have been even MORE awesome if Ronan was a better character.

In fiction, there are different types of villains. Some — like Emperor Palpatine — are just irredeemably, unapologetically bad. They are easy to root against because they’re just terrible people and they don’t care about anything but their own goals. However, my favorite villains are others — like Darth Vader, Magneto, and Loki — that have more shades of gray. They’re still the “bad guy,” but you also see how the hurt and pain in their past have influenced them. This is the type of villain that you feel sorry for, because if they’d made slightly different choices they might have ended up on the good side instead.

These are the type of villains that also can inspire some meaningful self-reflection. Maybe we can see a little bit of ourselves in them: the part we don’t like to think or talk about. The part that thinks selfish thoughts, resents the wrongs done to us, imagines getting revenge, etc. When we see these villains and the self-destructive path they’re walking down, it serves as a warning of what could happen to us if we’re not careful.  

 

One of the biggest characters in the movie is music. Peter has grown up being shaped by the songs his mother left behind for him, and Marvel obviously used the universal nature of music to help sell this film. What does the “soundtrack” of your life look like? How have certain songs impacted you?

I LOVE the soundtrack to this movie. It seems like a weird idea at first to have the soundtrack for a Marvel space movie be retro songs from Earth, but it totally works, because Peter has such a personal connection to these particular songs. They remind him of his mother and keep her close to his heart, even though she’s no longer physically with him.

The “soundtrack” to my life might look a lot like Peter’s, actually! I love music from the ’60s and ’70s — however, sorry Peter, if you are going to go retro I think records are more awesome than cassettes. 😉 I also love film scores, particularly anything by John Williams; I think it’s amazing how much emotion and meaning composers can pack into a song that doesn’t even have any words.

I actually find myself gravitating to songs more based on the music than the words, even if the songs do have lyrics. Which surprises me a little bit, since I love words and writing. (I did try to write some song lyrics in high school, but I think they might have gotten lost in a computer crash. I hope and pray that’s the case, because they were awful and should never see the light of day.) 😉 For whatever reason, the music itself is more important than the words to me, because I think that the melody can tell a story all on its own. The music to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” just makes me feel happy, even without the words.

Although the lyrics to the songs on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack may not exactly match the situation onscreen, the tone of the music always *feels* right for whatever is happening at that moment. The film feels emotionally authentic, and the music helps make that happen.

 

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