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6 takeaways from the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ IMAX 3D first look

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On Monday, July 7, Marvel hosted free first look events for their upcoming film, Guardians of the Galaxy, at IMAX theaters throughout the country. Whether you missed out because you didn’t hear about the event or you weren’t willing to make the trip to the theater for “just 17 minutes,” here’s everything you need to know.

Seventeen minutes may not sound like much, but the first look screening, though brief, didn’t lack for value. A clip of director James Gunn speaking about his efforts to make the IMAX experience of the film a truly immersive one ran ahead of the footage, and then the real fun began. (If you don’t want a few details on what happened in the footage shown, it’s probably best to quit reading now and merely skim the observations below.)

Fans were treated to a sequence that presumably comes in early in the film, and serves to establish the roguish anti-hero nature of this team. We first see Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket Racoon, Groot and Drax the Destroyer being processed and then quite unceremoniously dumped into the kyln (a rough looking prison, with a rough looking group of prisoners). Our hapless heroes abruptly get into a scuffle, throw down to prove how tough they are and are in the beginnings of carefully planning an escape, when circumstance forces them to improvise.

The choice of footage was a perfect taste of the film; it exhibited action and humor, and most importantly let those unfamiliar with the comics know exactly who the Guardians are and what they are all about. Even those who attended, however, will have to wait until the full film is released to get their first glimpses of Karen Gillian, Glenn Close, Josh Brolin, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro and Nathan Fillion in action outside of a few fleeting glimpses in trailers.

Read on for a few major takeaways gleaned from the footage. And head on over to Marvel's Guardians page to see the new, extended trailer that screened following the sequence.

It looks glorious in IMAX
It looks glorious in IMAX Courtesy of Marvel Studios

It looks glorious in IMAX

When your director prefaces a clip with talk of how important delivering an IMAX experience that will take fans farther into the Marvel Cinematic Universe than ever before, you have to be feeling pretty confident that you can deliver. And deliver the sequence did. Even those who don’t much care for 3D would be remiss not to don the glasses in order to see Guardians in full IMAX glory when it hits theaters on Aug. 1.

As Gunn noted in his schpiel ahead of the clip, sometimes bigger is better, and this is one of those cases. The scope of the screen coupled with the IMAX mastered footage delivered some truly stunning visuals. As the camera pans the kyln it becomes clear with no words, that Peter Quill and company have found themselves in an imposing and less than idyllic place.

If a grungy prison can look that impressive, imagine what the expanses of space will look like.

Rocket and Groot will be to 'Guardians' what The Hulk was to 'The Avengers'
Rocket and Groot will be to 'Guardians' what The Hulk was to 'The Avengers' Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Rocket and Groot will be to 'Guardians' what The Hulk was to 'The Avengers'

When The Avengers took the globe by storm in 2012, everyone agreed that it was basically made of awesome, something Whedonites knew would be true, but which still came as a surprise to others. Fans knew quality was the order of the day, but no one expected that The Avengers would be the film to finally get The Incredible Hulk just right.

Even as he was Hulking out, he was an absolute riot, and arguably the breakout character of the film––even though he was already well known. Rocket Raccoon and Groot are much lesser-known characters to casual fans who dig Marvel movies, but don’t spend hours pouring over comics. If the glimpse of the duo from the sneak peek is any indication, they are poised to enjoy that same scene-stealing, audience favorite status.

Of the two, Rocket will likely be the most beloved for his snark; after all, vocally, Groot is even more limited than the Hulk, capable only of uttering the phrase “I am Groot,” but the pair of them together are riotous fun. And if the footage that was showcased is any indication, any time Rocket says he has a plan, the audience is in for a treat.

This is not like any Marvel movie you've ever seen
This is not like any Marvel movie you've ever seen Courtesy of Marvel Studios

This is not like any Marvel movie you've ever seen

Marvel has become a box office juggernaut, turning out a series of well received superhero movies, and while they’ve found a way to couch plenty of humor in alongside the spandex and heroics, we have yet to see anything like Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, Thor and Thor: The Dark World also have some space action, but Guardians is quite a different animal.

Peter Quill and company are not heroes, they are anti-heroes, a ragtag group of criminals. A group much more akin to the crew of the Serenity than members of The Avengers. With Guardians, we will be getting something completely fresh that will shake up the MCU, especially as the Marvel machine rolls on and these guys get to mix with the likes of Steve Rodgers and Tony Stark.

The humor is everywhere, and it works
The humor is everywhere, and it works Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The humor is everywhere, and it works

Though the sequence Marvel revealed did not lack for action in the slightest, it was also consistently humorous. While Tony Stark can be frequently be found dropping pop culture references, it seems he’s going to have some competition in the form of Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon.

Meanwhile, Groot delivers physical humor, Gamora the sarcasm and Drax is so literal it’s laughable. As Rocket explains, even metaphors won’t work with Drax; he’s so literal, they’ll go right over his head. It's at this point that Drax assures him that nothing would ever go over his head, he would catch it. This blend of comedy gives the film a dynamic feel. It’s not all action, there’s humor and humanity here too.

The film captures the flavor of the comics
The film captures the flavor of the comics Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The film captures the flavor of the comics

Those who have read the Guardians of the Galaxy comics left the sneak peek feeling that Gunn has managed to capture the flavor of the comics with his film. The action we saw was in keeping with the sense that the team seems to work independently, but somehow manages to coalesce ingeniously at the last second.

What is also immediately clear is that though Peter Quill is the star, the leader of the pack, he is absolutely the least qualified man for the job. It seems clear that Gunn didn't sacrifice the quirks of the comics in the hopes of mass market appeal, rather he (rightly) is trusting that this unlikely group of heroes will win audiences over in their truest form.

And since that means Rocket gets to stay the awesome jerk that he is, instead of becoming something watered down, we're doubly pleased to see Gunn sticking to his guns and staying true to the source material.

Thanos made an appearance...sort of
Thanos made an appearance...sort of Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Thanos made an appearance...sort of

As John C. Reilly’s Rhomann Day gave a rundown of each of the characters being processed he also gave something of a first glimpse of Thanos. More specifically, he revealed Gamora’s relation to Thanos (for the unfamiliar: she’s his adopted daughter and he’s the big purple guy at the end of The Avengers)  and the belief that he was teamed up with Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to cause all manner of bad, evil things. This is particularly significant for a couple of reasons.

Most immediately, it means that even though Gamora is no longer on her adoptive father’s side, many people believe she is, and her reputation precedes her. In the longer game, Thanos is believed to be a big bad in at least some capacity in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers 3. Director James Gunn has teased that the Guardians will definitely come into play with Avengers 3, so keep a wary eye on the big purple guy.   

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