5 Reasons the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Movie Will Prove Critics Wrong

What hasn't been said about Guardians of the Galaxy's first full-length trailer? It's energetic, quirky, and unexpectedly amusing for a sci-fi epic. Half Star Wars, half Firefly with a dash of Indiana JonesDisney  (NYSE: DIS  ) and Marvel Studios hold the keys to a potential blockbuster. 

1. The Marvel tie-in
The movie is based off Marvel's 2008 comic book series, and has significant ties with The Avengers'  battle against alien supervillain Thanos. Director James Gunn has said in the past that it is "connected to The Avengers 2 [Age of Ultron]," which is set to be released in 2015, adding, "at some point in time they'll all meet up with different characters throughout the galaxy."

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) giving the finger in the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' world premier trailer.

In a vacuum, worries that Guardians is too obscure to go mainstream are warranted, but that's simply not the reality. Gunn's film not only has the blessing of Marvel, it will also play a key role in developing "Phase 2" of the company's comic-to-film rollout, which, after Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, will culminate with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

2. It can toe the fine line
As PolicyMic wrote recently, Guardians "translates the oddball elements of the original comics from page to screen." Although expansion of the Marvel universe is important, the film's most essential element may be its ability to cultivate a bravado that's been missing from most recent films in the genre (the Iron Man trilogy is the lone exception).

But it's a balancing act, and a risky one at that. For every Twelve Monkeys, there's a Pluto Nash. A fine line between funny and silly exists in the realm of sci-fi comedy, which is what makes the Internet's reaction to the first Guardians trailer so promising.

"Hooked on a Feeling," a rock pop hit from four decades ago, saw its daily downloads skyrocket 700% last week after being featured in Guardians' world premier TV spot. The song's presence on Peter Quill's Walkman sets the tone for the quirkiness so proudly on display in the trailer.  

Fizziology also reports that after the reveal, the movie's Twitter (NYSE: TWTR  ) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) mentions outranked the debut of 2013's Man of Steel and rivaled The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In an interview with TheWrap, the research company revealed that "a lot of people didn't know how the film was going to work...but they [Marvel] nailed the tone," adding, "you see that reflected in the social media reaction."

3. The marketing machine
With that in mind, the Marvel marketing machine appears to be embracing sci-fi comedy at a level not seen before. All three Iron Man movies have had their laughs, but their trailers have focused on explosions and high-tech suits of armor, not Robert Downey, Jr.'s witty portrayal of Tony Stark. Likewise, the Thor and Captain America campaigns -- and movies themselves -- prefer gravitas over humor.

Sticking with Guardians' unique tone, Marvel has already released five behind-the-scenes "Meet the Guardians" videos, and a new poster that dons the phrase, "You're welcome." 

Source: Marvel.

Viral marketing is important for the promotion of any modern-day film, and Guardians has gotten the ball rolling in the best way possible. Although millions will be spent on development and ads, Marvel's track record suggests profitability is very likely.

4. The track record
Within the Marvel cinematic universe, every film has been a box-office success, and none have come close to losing money.

Marvel Cinematic Universe, 2008 to Present
Film Box Office Budget ROI
Iron Man $585 million $140 million 318%
The Incredible Hulk $263 million $150 million 76%
Iron Man 2 $623 million $200 million 212%
Thor $449 million $150 million 200%
Captain America: The First Avenger $370 million $140 million 165%
The Avengers $1.518 billion $220 million 590%
Iron Man 3 $1.215 billion $200 million 508%
Thor: The Dark World $639 million $170 million 276%

Source: Box Office Mojo.

Beginning with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has been on a legendary run. Only The Incredible Hulk has generated a return on investment less than 100%, and two of the past three Marvel projects -- The Avengers and Iron Man 3 -- are among the highest-grossing films of all-time. 

Guardians has the added benefit of being sandwiched between two highly anticipated installments of this universe: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron. As fellow Fool Tim Beyers wrote recently, the movie will probably cost at least $150 million to make, and judging by the chart above, a worldwide box-office take of $265 million (a ROI of 76%) would be a worst-case scenario. Most likely, Guardians will make at least twice its budget.

Critics point to an Aug.1 release as a potential drag on sales -- the month is typically middle-of-the-pack at the box office -- but these fears are overblown. A peek at the top-grossing films of the past 10 Augusts indicates that none were sci-fi epics, and only two (The Other Guys and GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra) made less than twice their budgets.

5. The star power
Lastly, the star power of Guardians is an underrated strength. The film's "Meet the Guardians" series hypes two of its megastars -- Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, who voice Rocket Raccoon and Groot -- though additional marketing may be necessary. The more fans understand Cooper and Diesel have prominent roles in the film, the more mainstream exposure there will be.

Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt, who will also have a major role in 2015s Jurassic World, could become this decade's Harrison Ford if the cards fall perfectly. At the very least, Pratt's ability to embody Peter Quill can endear him to fans much like what Robert Downey, Jr. has done with Tony Stark.

Zoe Saldana, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio Del Toro, and John C. Reilly round out the cast in a way few Marvel movies have besides The Avengers. Unlike most of the company's solo superhero flicks, Guardians' very nature allows it to feature a diverse group of rising and established actors.

The future
It's a little more than five months until Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters, and the future is bright. The Marvel tie-in should serve as a nice security blanket for the film, and a rare mix of comedy and science fiction has fans clamoring for more trailers and marketing material.

If history and Marvel's track record are indicators of box-office success, it's reasonable to think Guardians can make at least twice its budget. If it costs $150 million to make, that's a $300 million take, though I wouldn't be surprised if it can at least match the first Captain America, which grossed $370 million.

While the obvious risks -- that Guardians is too goofy for sci-fi fans and too niche for those in the mainstream -- remain, I applaud Marvel's decision to go forward with the film. It's a unique entry into a genre that's been unimaginative in recent years, and if aliens listening to "Hooked on a Feeling" isn't original, I don't know what is.

And now, a Guardians skeptic who thinks Jake got most everything wrong.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:41 AM, k2stevethomas wrote:

    After reading this article, I think you missed one more reason the movie will succeed: David Bautista. He is not mentioned anywhere in this article, yet he carries an amazing power - he has the entire WWE universe behind him. Millions watch and follow pro wrestling every week and he is one it's biggest stars and set to headline their biggest show, WrestleMania. In the past, WWE produced movies all have drawn well from their base, there is no reason to believe otherwise. As the movie nears and more people interview and get to see and hear David, he may also become a breakout star.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:42 AM, Puma wrote:

    I think this movie is gonna be good, and huge money maker for Marvel. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say when summer is over it's gonna be top three as far as money made. I love seeing how Marvel is going about these movies, can't wait for the other movies to come out. I just wish Marvel had possession of ALL their different comic entities, because an X-Men/Fantastic Four, or Avengers/Spiderman movie would be awesome!

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 10:22 AM, TheFume wrote:

    It's more half Star Wars and half Farscape. There really isn't much Firefly in this concept. Firefly had NO alien species. The only thing that is similar is that it's a crew of misfits on a ship. This movie is more inline with Farscape and Buck Rogers than Firefly. With that said :

    A lot of the people I work with want to see this movie and they have never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy before. This movie is going to be a HUGE success.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 6:03 PM, Lostcause wrote:

    Marvel will get 600mil-1bill on this pic. It ties the MU together.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 6:03 PM, msorrentino wrote:

    Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be like Star Wars just look at the character types.

    Peter Quill = Han Solo (wise guy/bit of a jerk at times) + Luke Skywalker (out for an adventure)

    Gamora + Drax = Chewbacca

    Rocket + Groot = Chewbacca/R2D2/C3PO mash-up

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 10:31 PM, Richardragan wrote:

    i think its compared to Firefly because like Firefly the group is supposed to be outlaws .. cant wait to see this movie

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 10:42 PM, Richardragan wrote:

    most people dont know there is close ties between the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy . some are looking at the tralier seeing Rocket and Groot thinking cartoons they arnt cartoons . then they look at Starlord and dont understand hes cocky kinda like Ironman Tony Stark ..

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 8:20 AM, JustAGuyNamedJoe wrote:

    After reading the other Motley article (the one explaining why GotG is going to be a flop) I looked into my crystal ball and realized...I don't have a crystal ball. And neither does Motley.

    Fanboys like me think the movie is going to do great based on Marvel's track record and our love for the characters.

    Haters...meh. Hater gonna hate. Whatever.

    I think the movie will do well, but I'm worried now about the over-hype factor. Push it too hard and folks might burn out before the movie even arrives. No, August 1st cannot get here soon enough, but all the love/hate media hype needs to stop.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 11:30 AM, Loves2Splooge wrote:

    Yesterday you said this movie was guaranteed to "flop". Make up your mind dipshits.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 1:57 PM, msorrentino wrote:

    @Loves2Splooge actually both articles came out yesterday and were written by different people.

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2014, at 4:45 PM, leb2014 wrote:

    I registered to make this comment. I wonder if you guys at the Motley Fool are eating the words of a 94 million dollar weekend.

    It was about 20 million over then what you guys predicted. It will break 750 million before long if not the magic billion dollar.

    I will supply you guys the sauce to make your words go easier.

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