Marvel cranks up sarcasm and 70s sound for 'Guardians of Galaxy'
By Mary Milliken
BURBANK Calif. (Reuters) - A lead actor known for playing the slovenly sidekick, a director who only made small films, a talking raccoon and a 1970s pop music soundtrack - together they form an unlikely tableau for a mega-budget space adventure movie.
And yet, Marvel Studios banked on these outliers for its $170 million launch of the new franchise "Guardians of the Galaxy," a novel combination of sarcasm and sci-fi that opens in U.S. theaters on Friday and could be the late summer's box office hit.
If it delivers on that promise, "Guardians" will show that the Walt Disney Co studio can score with its more obscure comics like it has with the popular "Iron Man" and "Captain America."
The film could also be a big validation for those who dare to veer from standard superhero fare with offbeat characters and quirky storytelling.
"It is a new kind of tone that I think a lot of people are going to attempt to do," said lead actor Chris Pratt, who plays the reluctant hero Peter Quill.
Director and writer James Gunn, who previously worked on films with modest $3 million budgets, said he found studio executives were keen to go off-kilter, and loved, for example, introducing a Walkman and pop music in an outerspace adventure.
"I kept throwing stuff at them and they kept eating it up, so I felt lucky," said Gunn. "I felt like I was tricking them, but they seem to like it now, so I guess it is all OK."
Disney's marketing played up the hallmark sci-fi spectacle while cultivating interest in the idiosyncratic characters, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. Rocket Raccoon is already generating buzz as a fan favorite, he said. Continued...