I’m hooked on a feeling.
There is a quality about Marvel’s new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer; one that taps into your inner fanboy, one that pulls on every one of your pitiful pop culture checkpoints, that toys with you, that leaves you gasping in anticipation. Of what? You haven’t a clue. It is a masterful tease. Invoking those very same feelings you had, on that Tuesday in November, when you paid to see A Bug’s Life and left after the teaser for The Phantom Menace. Because it reminds you of the kind of movies George Lucas used to make. Because it feels like a preview for the kind of movies J.J. Abrams aspires to make.
James Gunn knows what I want. He knows precisely how to play me. Right from the get go. With those first 17 seconds seducing from me my earliest childhood memories of adventure and intrigue, of Indiana Jones braving that booby trapped temple in Peru in search of a golden idol. With those quick and dirty introductions to characters unknown yet strangely familiar. Drax. Gamora. Rocket. Groot. Aeryn. D’Argo. Moya. Wash. Inara. Jayne. It is Malcolm Reynolds and John Crichton corralling a disparate and desperate group of misfits and miscreants for higher purpose.
And then there’s that song. That ridiculously catchy song that somehow manages to tie in Calista Flockhart’s ticking biological clock with a blood-soaked Tim Roth. That damn song that burrows into your brain and gets you hooked. On a feeling.
In this trailer, James Gunn is utilising a shared vocabulary. He is operating within the strictures imposed by George Lucas and Joss Whedon and Brian Henson, by Star Wars and Firefly and Farscape. He is tapping into what we know, into what we like, into what we’re comfortable with. He is telling us that we’re going to love this movie, irrespective of whether or not we know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are.
“Who are you?”
It doesn’t matter.
All that matters is that it’s been far too long time since we’ve indulged ourselves with a great space western. Serenity was almost a decade ago. Star Trek came close (but the weight of history was sometimes too much to overcome). And Star Wars, in all of its modern incarnations, is no longer Star Wars.
Guardians of the Galaxy has a clean slate. It is a comic book movie without the burden of fandom. Now wouldn’t that be something.