Having recently re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy, possibly my all times favourite superhero movie, I had the pleasure to discover a feature on and with Chris Pratt in Glamour magazine. Yes, it was in the June issue and yes, I have missed it when it came out due to a situation with my address being changed to a wrong street number in their system. Never mind, it is all sorted now.
It was pleasant to discover a few things on the guy, described as “a curious mix of humility, enthusiasm and self-assurance”, which does not come completely as a surprise. Turning the few pages in the magazine which present him as the G MAN of June, on awaiting the premiere of Jurassic World, this is exactly what I saw myself in the two photos taken for this feature. A confident guy, as far from being cocky as Pluto from the sun, whose posture and mimic show modesty and a genuine person.
Reading through the article only enhanced this impression. The guy apparently came from a social background which promised nothing such as staring in Hollywood one day. As he briefly mentions it, he grew up being poor and not caring too much about this. But once he got into acting, this was what he wanted to do. Not out of ambition, not for the money and the glamour (if I am good at all in reading between the lines), but just because this was it for him.
Aware of the challenge to keep up now with his own success, Chris does not seem keen on staying a Hollywood star forever. He actually speaks of completely retreating from the limelight at some point, alongside his actress wife, after securing a comfortable amount of money which would allow them to raise their son, generally enjoy life and maybe shifting their creativity towards writing and painting. I must confess this part completely melted my heart. As a writer and former journalist, far from hitting success as Chris did at 35, this is exactly what I am striving towards together with my partner: securing a comfort which would allow us to express ourselves without any other major worry for our future.
If you think of it, back to the movie, the actor, not your usual Hollywood superstar, embodies a quite atypical superhero. He’s got the looks, although it is a somewhat different type of handsome. Not a complete hunk, while not a complete sweety either (think Leo in Romeo and Juliet), he seems the type of the handsome neighbour you could actually trust. Infused with a certain cheekiness which stays with the character, Peter Quill has that something pleasant about him as a man who knows he’s handsome, without caring too much about it.
As for personality, where should we start? Raised by thieves, but not a rotten apple himself really, just a guy who does what he knows to make ends meet, he is the least expected to lead a team of superheroes who would save the galaxy from destruction and dictatorial evil power. And by the image of their leader so is the whole gang of unlikely heroes who save the day.
A few weeks ago I watched the movie again at home, with my friend Ana, who hasn’t seen it before. She loved it as much as I did. On the other hand, I was just curious how I would react the second time at certain scenes. If anybody else wants to know, I cried again with my cheeks covered in tears at the end, when Groot grew around his group of friends, embracing them to protect them from imminent death. It was just as strong as when I watched it the first time and Ana was sobbing herself next to me. Then, when we turned the lights back on, we chatted about the movie and how apparently these guys only superpower was their friendship.
And indeed this is the tweak in the whole movie. Yes, Quill is cunning and he has got some assertiveness skills to shame other heroes in the genre. The big red guy has that blood thirsty rage as all which was left to him after losing his family. The green girl Gamora, raised by Thanos after he killed her parents in front of her, has all the skills of a deadly warrior, together with an unquenchable thirst for freedom. The little angry Rocket, a racoon genetically modified and tortured, has his implacable instinct of survival. While Groot, oh dear Groot, the walking tree seems to be very single minded while deeply caring for his close ones. This character made me think of nature which provides for us all, without really asking for anything in return, and which in the end could prove to be our real saviour when all else is lost.
Most important, what binds this bunch of unlikely friends together? First, none of them have any roots or attachments any longer, but finding themselves entangled in the circumstances, they need to work together to get out of the situation. And then they become friends. They understand each other’s hurt, disillusion and rage, and friendship is what in the end moves them towards becoming the heroes of the day. Had the circumstances not brought them together, each of them would have minded their own business and would have probably tried to keep away from the disaster.
Of course they are all outcasts and the scene before the very final one, with them all walking towards the repaired ship, is completely delightful. Their questions of what they are not supposed to do any longer as it might be illegal have the twinkling humour of innocence. These guys did not choose to become outcasts, somebody else had chosen for all of them until the right time came to make their own, personal and very decisive choice.
I must admit that an outcast superhero has always appealed to me possibly more than an all righteous one. This is why I’ve always preferred Batman to Superman, as his dark side is always lurking just one step behind his justice maker persona. It may have something to do with the fact that the first novel I have ever read was “Robin Hood”, while my later heroes became the three musketeers and they were no angels whatsoever.
As I did not intend to write a movie review, but to stress what stayed with me after watching it twice, I will not really analyse anything else about it. It remains the best superheroes movie I have seen in quite a while, although in tight competition with “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. While on imdb.com both movies have a score of 8.1, what made the difference for me was the unlikeliness of these characters to actually be the saviours of the day, as well as the brilliant humour. Most viewers and reviewers stressed on how this was one of the elements which actually changed the paradigm of the genre.
And how could it have not changed it?
It was not amazing superpowers which enabled them to defeat the bad guy (although there is this tweak about Quill which will probably unravel in the sequel), but exactly his humour turned the fierce Ronan into a distraught man losing the plot. All evil expects to be opposed by a display of force, brought forward with all the energy and rage their opponents are capable of. And what does this Quill do? Starts dancing and singing as of inviting him on the spotlight at a disco party? This proves indeed enough to stop an evil mind on its tracks, even for that needed moment for the team of friends to take control over the situation and completely change the outcome.
Now I do hope the sequel will rise to the expected standards, and I do hope Chris Pratt remains the nice guy I have seen glimpses of. It’s good to be able to relate to such stories and such people in the craze which constantly pulls us in ten directions at a time.