I’m going to be honest with you. I got on the Guardians of the Galaxy bandwagon when the movie came out. I was never a fan of the comic. I knew the characters and the particulars of everything; I just wasn’t into it. I’ve become what I despise… a fair weather fan. Nonetheless, I’m a convert and I am not ashamed to say it. Guardians of the Galaxy (in my opinion) is the best of the Marvel films next to the first Iron Man. Naturally, I was excited to hear about an animated series and was eager to do this review. So now that is out of the way, let us get on with it.
Taking into account that this is an animated series geared for a younger audience, it was tough to put aside the live action movie and enjoy this as a separate entity. In some ways it was very reminiscent of the film while very different in others. Having to appeal to children (more or less) is what makes this difficult to enjoy. Perhaps expectations were set a little too high and wanting Guardians to be more like the movie is what damages my overall opinion of it.
The biggest issue to overcome was the voice acting. Although a few characters were spot on, others were so unlike their film counterparts that it (for me) took a lot away from the experience. I was most disappointed in Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Trevor Devall.) Rocket was more shrill and cartoon-ish. Even his lines weren’t as crass and sarcastic, almost as if they focused more on one aspect of this personality than giving a well rounded version of the character.
Another disappointing character was Yondu, voiced by James Arnold Taylor. He sounded more like a bad impression of Gambit, with his poor Southern dialect and bad colloquialisms. Again taking just one aspect of Michael Rooker’s performance and turning it into a cliche.
The writers also took some creative liberties with parts of the story, which is to be expected. One thing that was the most bothersome was Korath (voiced by Dave Fennoy.) Even though the voice acting was some of the episode’s best, Korath’s character was modified the most from the comic book, and even from the movie. In the film you’ll remember that Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou) was killed by Drax. Obviously not wanting to take away a potential character within the Guardians universe, his story was changed. Now it appears he is an adopted child of Thanos, like Gamora and Nebula. This changes the dynamic of Korath’s background quite a bit. Some would say this is a rather nitpicky thing to be displeased about, but it is a little annoying. Having Korath aligned more with his original backstory would have been much more enjoyable.
So… that’s a lot to dislike for two thirty minute episodes. This premiere was a hour long fusing of the series’ first two episodes which encompassed a complete story line. The first episode Road to Knowhere was shown a couple of weeks prior to this. It was paired with the second episode Knowhere to Run for the actual premiere. In spite of my dislikes and misgivings, there is a lot that was right with Guardians. Will Friedle as Peter Quill was mostly on par with what was expected. Gamora (voiced by Vanessa Marshall) was amazing from her dialog right down to her personality. What little was heard from Drax (voiced by David Sobolov) was good and I am hopeful there will be an entire episode dedicated to Drax sometime in the future. That brings us to Groot (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) who let’s face it, outside of Vin Diesel himself, there can be no other choice of voice actors to take on Groot.
When it comes to the overall plot of these first two episodes, it felt like (with a few exceptions) a continuation of the film in animated form. The animation was was fantastic given my general dislike of the look and feel of Marvel’s other animated shows. The most standout were the external shots of Knowhere and the other space scenes were amazing. These first two episodes were fast paced and action packed, as you’d anticipate from something like Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel had some big shoes to fill based on how enjoyable the film was and even though these first two outings fell a little short, I still have high hopes for this series and will continue watching.
The thing you should take away from these first two episodes of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is that it is an animated series with kids as its target audience. On those grounds, Guardians is a hit and kids will love it. For the older members of the audience expecting it to be more like the movie, you’re going to be a little disappointed. Take it for what it is, enjoy it as a gift because the movie was so successful. Have fun with Guardians and don’t try to analyze too much or you’ll never get on board.