So, as you probably guessed from all the reblogs, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend. I loved it. Great actors, great characters, great dialogue, visually colorful with a sense of humor and an irreverent ease about it.
Strangely, the plot of the movie is a bit more complicated than it needs to be. The director, James Gunn, said in an interview that he originally planned to use Thanos as the main villain of the movie but changed it to Ronan the Accuser part way through at the request of the studio. Presumably Marvel wants to “save” Thanos and use him as the villain in a future movie (possibly Avengers 3?)
The change shows. The plot becomes a lot simpler and makes more sense if you cut Ronan out of movie altogether and replace “Ronan” with “Thanos” everywhere it appears.
- Ronan has storm troopers who fire “Necra-blasts” and fly “Necra-craft”, which would seem to imply that he is the leader of some kind of Death Cult, but that would all make more sense for Thanos. In the comics, Thanos actually is a Death worshiper and obsessed with death.
- In the comics, Thanos is the one who killed Drax’s family and Drax has a vendetta against Thanos, not Ronan. (The funny line at the the end, “Really, it’s Thanos I have to kill”, is a tip of the hat to this.)
- If Gamora and Nebula are “daughters of Thanos”, why are they doing temp work for Ronan? If Thanos was the one who raised and tortured and trained Gamora, why does she spend half the movie talking about how bad Ronan is? If Thanos is your dad, wouldn’t Ronan seem like small potatoes in comparison?
- If Thanos is obsessed with collecting the Infinity Gems/Stones, why does he make a deal to outsource the job to Ronan? Why doesn’t he just do it himself? He’s powerful enough.
There’s only a finite amount of evil menace to go around in this movie. By splitting it up between two villains, you make them both look weaker. The story is much more compelling with just one Big Bad.
As it is, the villains’ motivations are muddy: Ronan is chasing our heroes to retrieve the orb, but he doesn’t really care about it; Thanos is the one who wants it. Thanos is going to destroy Xandar, but Ronan is the one who has the vendetta against the Xandarians. Muddy.
Also, if you cut out Ronan and make Thanos the main villain, I think it leaves more room for Gamora’s personal struggle to play out on screen. In the filmed version, Gamora has basically already decided to betray Ronan off screen before the movie even began. We don’t get to see much of her journey and transformation. Imagine instead: Thanos is the one who sends Gamora to retrieve the orb. Through the first half of the movie Gamora is just playing along and waiting for an opportunity to betray the team and deliver the orb to Thanos. Only after she sees a demonstration of the stone’s destructive power at the Collector’s, only then does she decide to switch sides. No way can she hand something that powerful to Thanos, because she knows what he’ll do with it. That way we get to see Gamora’s growth and change of heart in real time.
If I ever write fan fiction for GotG, I’m going to pretend Ronan doesn’t exist and write an AU where Thanos is the main Big Bad and takes over all Ronan’s scenes in the script.
(Only he survives and escapes at the end, because you can’t just vaporize Thanos. He’s too cool for that.)