Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Hero's Journey: Guardians of the Galaxy

Fig 1: Guardians of the Galaxy Theatrical Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy (also know as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1) is a 2014 Marvel film directed by James Gunn. The Film is the 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dealing with the origin story of the new Guardians of the Galaxy comics that started back in 2008 as a way to open up the franchise to the public after the success of the Avengers movie and each solo movie of characters from that group.
Following the character Starlord, a.k.a Peter Quill, (Chris Pratt) from his initial abduction into space, and his life as a scavenger. He ends up stealing an very precious orb that is desired by the big bad Ronan (Lee Pace) as it is one of the infinity stones that can grant infinite power. Peter ends up having to group up with a bunch of misfits in the form of the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the barbarian and literal minded Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) the genetically engineered racoon bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and his tree-man companion Groot (Vin Diesel). The unlikely group has to take on the forces of the Sakaaran army to stop the destruction of the planet Xander and to prefer Ronin from getting his hands on the infinity stone.

The Hero's Journey is a narrative structure created by Joseph Campbell in his 1945 book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and is used in most films as a good general basis for the story in films, especially around the 80s. Also known as a Monomyth, the Hero's Journey follows the trials and tribulations of the main character who goes off on an adventure, facing many challenges, befriending allies and falling in love. The character ends up growing as a person through the story, ending up a different person with a whole new skill set and personality from what they had to endure. A good example of the Monomyth is the Star Wars original trilogy with Luke Skywalker, as George Lucas used Campbell's book as a guide for the plot of the film.

Figure 2: Diagram of the Hero's Journey

In the terms of story structure Guardians of the Galaxy does fall into the Hero's Journey, not as precisely as the Star Wars original trilogy but it follows the structure quite well. Starlord, a scavenger, goes to the abandoned planet, Morag, where the civilisation there had been wiped out some time ago. Finding the orb is his Call to Adventure as unbeknown to him that that orb is an important artefact. After escaping the planet after being ambushed by Korath and landing in Xander, he tries to sell on the orb to a pawn broker there who refuses to do business correlating to the Refusal of the Call as if the sale had gone through the entire adventure wouldn't of happened. The introduction of Rocket Racoon and Groot brings about the Supernatural Aid that helps out Peter in his fight against the First Threshold, the Assassin Gamora, though Rocket and Groot are helping him for their own selfish means. Due to the fight the four are captured by NOVA corp officials and sent to the belly of the whale, the intergalactic prison of Kyln.

Upon arriving in Klyn, the group meet Drax the Destroyer, who's on his own revenge path against Ronan for the murder of his wife and daughter. Begrudgingly the group allow him to assist them in their escape from the prison as Gamora mentions that she as a buyer in Knowhere that will give her a high price for the orb. Motivated by the promise of a ridiculous amount of money Rocket comes up with a plan, utalising all of the gangs abilities even if the majority of the plan is improvised. Through the Road of Trials, this is the first time that the gang come together as one as they escape Kyln in Starlords ship as they head off to Knowhere.

Fig 3: The Guardians successfully take over Kyln

In Knowhere while taking a break from looking for the buyer, a romance starts up with Peter and Gamora as she is intrigued as to why he went through all the trouble of getting his walkman back from the guard in the prison block. This could be seen as the Meeting of the Goddess
Soon after the gang finds the person they are looking for in the form of the Collector who explains to the group, sans Drax, about what the orb is. The orb is one of the six infinity stones that can grant power to whoever holds it but can easily kill if the user isn't strong enough, despite this the power it wields can destroy planets and that is the power that is Temptation and the reason Ronan wants the stone. An example of the stones destructive power is shown as the Collectors assistant grabs the stone and triggers an explosions wiping her and some of the Collector's collection away to dust. Ronan then arrives as a response from a drunken Drax who wants to fight him. Him and his army, proceed to beat Drax and steal the infinity stone. His intrusion also splits up the Guardians, with Peter and Gamora being taking in by the Ravangers who saved the two from suffocation in space, when Nebula blew up Gamora's ship as she was trying to escape the planet with the Infinity Stone, and Rocket, Drax and Groot who are stuck on Knowledge.

The Atonement to the Father occurs when Peter rekindles his relationship with Yondu, the Alien that abducted him 26 years ago, and after regrouping with the other guys lead by the explosive crazed Rocket who would be willing to blow up the Ravangers ship for the two if he wasn't persuaded not too by Peter. On the ship, as they prepare to face off with Ronan, to steal the infinity stone from him by taking over his ship the Dark Aster, this could be seen as the Ultimate Boon as Starlord is once again stealing the orb but this time round he knows of its power, he has allies to back him up but there are more enemies to face as they are going straight into a stronghold. Before the mission starts, Peter gives the group a heart-felt speech, showing his character development of a cocky self-centred scavenger to a more mature and heroic leader. The rest of the group also have matured and opened up as the movie progressed and this moment really capture that from them; this is the Guardians Apothesis.

Fig 4: Peter's Speech
Coming back to Xander where the adventure first started, the group infiltrate Ronan's ship the Dark Aster. The Refusal of the Call starts when Gamora splits from the gang to turn off the security system to allow the others access to the main part of the ship but she is stopped by her adoptive sister Nebula. The others are fighting against Ronan's warriors as they try to get to Ronan. Disaster strikes as Drax is wounded and Rocket's ship, as he was positioned as outside support, comes crashing into the ship, leading to an explosion and the Dark Aster falling from the sky. Groot sacrifices himself to make sure that the others aren't hurt from the crash. 

Emerging from the rubble, the remaining guardians emerge to Ronan as he is about to use his hammer, equipped with the infinity stone, to destroy Xander. This is the Magic Flight, as when he is about to use the power of the stone, Starlord uses his spontaneous tendencies to distracted Ronan so that Rocket could shoot the hammer, destroying the weapon and freeing the stone, that Peter catches, taking on its destructive power. Before the stone has a chance of killing Starlord, Gamora, Drax and Rocket grab hold of his hands and shares the burden, controlling the power just enough to kill Ronan, this is the Rescue from Without.

Fig 5: The Guardians sharing the burden of the Infinity Stone
The Guardians win the fight, Xander is safe, Returning to the Threshold, Peter gives the orb to the Nova corp, who in return wipes their criminal records. The Starlord is now a master of two worlds, by the Nova corp accepting him as a hero and while doing an analysis Peter learns that his father was an alien making him half-human, something that Yondu knew and was one of the reason for his abduction and after 26 years he finally opens the present his dying mother gave him, a second mixtape, being more confident and mature, good qualities for a leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and his freedom to live.
Fig 6: The Guardians of the Galaxy set off on a new adventure

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