Three Reasons Why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is Not a Feminist Film

[caption id="attachment_13593" align="aligncenter" width="405"]Release Poster. Release Poster.[/caption]
Written by Andé Morgan.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), one of the summer’s most anticipated blockbusters, was released today. It was directed by James Gunn and written by Gunn and Nicole Perlman.
Guardians stars Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Peter Quill, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, and Zoe Saldana (AvatarStar Trek) as Gamora.
Full disclosure: I’ve never read the comics and I knew nothing about the characters, their backstories, or their places in the Marvel Universe. I’m guessing that most viewers will share my ignorance. That’s OK, just go with it and let the tongue-twisters and blasters work their magic.
Make no mistake — Marvel Studios’ Avengers franchise is big business with plenty of big business oversight. Wisecracking animals, walking trees, pratfalls, space battles…it can be hard to fit in all of those beats while preserving some directorial distinctiveness. Fortunately, Gunn’s style comes through well and gives Guardians a joyful spark missing from its brethren (I’m looking at you, Iron Man 2). [Note: While writing this, I was unaware of the controversy surrounding Gunn due to the 2012 spotlighting of some awful, terrible, horrible, homophobic, misogynistic so-called satire that he spewed on his blog two years before before he was confirmed for GotG. I am now aware. The original post has long since vanished from the interwebs, but you can read about it here.]
Fans of Pratt’s Andy Dwyer will recognize the same genial man-child at the heart of Quill, but Pratt also shows that he can play the street smart pirate when necessary. More surprising is Bautista’s excellent performance as Drax. Athletes-turned-actors tend to have issues with timing and diction, but Bautista nailed it.
The most compelling characters in the movie are both animated. Rocket’s sullen abrasiveness belies palpable loneliness. Groot carries some of this sorrow as well. In the third act we learn just how strong the connection is between the two, and I was moved.
Quill is a thief and scavenger with a type of situational morality — sort of like a less violent, more personable Mal. He steals a blue orb that the Big Bad, Ronan (Lee Pace), covets. Pace lays the evil on thick, and it works. Ronan has genocidal ambitions, and wants to Death Star the peaceful planet Alderaan Xander. An aggressively shiny utopia, Xander looks like a cross between Dubai and a new outdoor outlet mall.
What unfolds is a standard space western, but with excellent performances, animation, and humor. It even has a female authority figure, Glenn Close (she’s the one with pieces of the set between her teeth) as Nova Prime, leader of Xander. You will be entertained. Aside from the somewhat clunky exposition sequences, I don’t really have much to criticize.
Except:
1. The first act features not one, but two disposable women. We learn that Quill suffers from parental abandonment. His father is absent, and his mother succumbs to cancer in the prologue. Later, Melia Kreiling portrays Bereet, a vaguely-alien humanoid whose key scene involves Quill shamelessly admitting to forgetting her existence even though they’d recently had sex. In the next scene (two of two for her), she speaks broken English and is servile to Quill; it struck me as an extraterrestrial variation of the Asian girlfriend trope. This was one of the few moments in the film where I actually didn’t like Pratt’s character. Unfortunately, this a-girl-in-every-spaceport sexism is leaned on for laughs throughout the film. Pratt is still playing a heterosexual white male lead, and Gunn won’t let you forget it.
[caption id="attachment_13594" align="aligncenter" width="457"]Soldana as Gomora. Saldana as Gamora.[/caption]
2. I dreaded seeing this trite sexism applied to Saldana’s character, Gamora, the cybernetic assassin (why is it that sexy female aliens are always either green or blue?). When I saw her catsuit and a gratuitous booty shot towards the end of the first act, I felt that my fears were partly born out. To be fair, while she does require saving by male characters on multiple occasions, Gamora does display moderately strong agency throughout the film. Her character is a load-bearing beam rather than a Trinity-esque distraction. If only her last lines could’ve been a little less deferential.
More troubling are some of Saldana’s comments in recent interviews. For example, she told the Los Angeles Times that part of the appeal of the character was the chance to play someone “…so different from herself…”
“Gamora, she’s not feminine in the typical sense of how women are supposed to be. I feel like she has to melt that ice for you to find that little girl in there. She’s very tough, she’s able to relate to the hard talks of it all. When Quill comes at her with that luscious, ‘Hey baby’ [attitude], I’m pretty sure she’s throwing up in her mouth. I liked that, and I thought, ‘OK, that’s something I can incorporate of myself and just shave off a little bit of my femininity.’ Even though I like to believe I’m a tomboy, I’m very feminine, so I just always have to de-train myself and allow my masculinity to seep through because Gamora is much more masculine than I am.”
Her comments seem to imply that combat prowess and femininity are necessarily mutually exclusive, and that it’s not feminine to rebuff the advances of horny dudebros. Those connections elicited a little side eye from this critic.
3. There is a female character credited only as Tortured Pink Girl (Laura Ortiz). For some reason, Benicio Del Toro plays the sadistic Collector (kind of an older, huskier Ziggy Stardust), with whom Quill seeks to do business. We see that the Collector has enslaved at least two women; both are displayed in pigtails and pink jumpers. One is forced to wash the glass cage of the other. The woman in the cage is on her knees, bound and gagged with electric sci-fi ropes, a clear look of pain and fear in her eyes.
Quill and crew are less concerned with the fate of the women than with money and exposition. When the uncaged woman, Carina (Ophelia Lovibond), desperately attempts to use the power of an ancient artifact to free herself, she’s immolated instead. We’re left to assume that the other captive woman is also killed in the subsequent cataclysm (though a dog and an arguably misogynistic duck survive).
Despite these faults, the film is still just too good to skip. While its story and characters are hardly groundbreaking, Guardians of the Galaxy’s combination of dopey humor and frenetic action hits the sweet spot between stupid, exciting, and endearing.

Andé Morgan lives in Tucson, Arizona, where they write about film, television, and current events. Follow them @andemorgan.

68 Comments

  • Wasgo
    Posted August 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Fully agree with everything you said. It’s unfortunate as there was really no reason for Gunn to have Star-Lord do the womanizing thing. It felt out of character and really awkward whenever they addressed it.

    • dongle92
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      it actually is in character. read the comics, dimwit

      • Nefarious Nautilus
        Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        Oh right, because comic characters NEVER change from book to screen. Oh wait… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groot

        All we’re saying is that there are many more ways to establish Quill as a great character with some flawed personality traits than making him Kirk Lite.

        • 1Gary
          Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          This is James Gunn’s version of Peter Quill. You may not like it but this is who he is at the beginning of the movie. An uncaring womanizer. If someone else was writing this then it would be different.

          • Romantic Placebo
            Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            Actually it was written by a woman named Nicole Perlman initially, and Gunn did a re-write.
            Guess we won’t know who decided on Peter Quill’s character flaw, but I’m more inclined to believe Gunn would go with womanizing then Perlman would…

          • neroden
            Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

            Given that the characterization of Quill is straight out of the comics, I’m pretty sure Perlman kept that characterization in her draft. It would be odd to delete and bring it back.

    • Joe_Kickass
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      So you knew all about this character prior to the movie?

      • Wasgo
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Yep. And much like Drax and Gamoroa were changed, they made major changes to Quill and his origin. With the overall character for the movie, especially with Pratt’s portrayal, the womanizing didn’t make sense anymore.

  • wordaddict
    Posted August 1, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Zoe Saldana has also said some problematic things about how things aren’t bad for Black women in Hollywood because they aren’t bad for her. And because Obama. Or something.

  • Chris Hamer
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    “Three reasons why “Guardians of the Galaxy” is not a feminist film” 1) Because it’s good. 2) Because it’s funny. 3) Because it’s worth the time to go see. Last time I checked the goal of Guardians was not to be a Feminist film; though like any good ideologue the world must conform or be destroyed.

    • SunlessNick
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      though like any good ideologue the world must conform or be destroyed.

      Yes, because that’s a totally valid interpretation of the article, especially the part that reads “Despite these faults, the film is still just too good to skip.” (That was my sarcastic typing of course).

    • Posted August 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Oh how hilarious to see unfunny dudes trot out that tired myth that feminists are humorless. Nevermind the fact that some of the funniest comedians/comedy writers happen to be women and feminists. Just because it’s not “the goal” of a film to be feminist does not mean we can’t or shouldn’t critique through a feminist lens. Wanting better representation is not about “conformity” but rather a wider, more diverse range of stories and characters.

  • Pino Irsuti
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Get to work, enough of all this feminists bullshit :3

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 15, 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Sorry that you don’t think making people recognize the lack of female agency in our culture when HALF that culture is female is work worth doing.

      • Pino Irsuti
        Posted August 15, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        More bullshit, i’m amazed such bullshit is exactly the same in any language and country XD

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Kinda makes you wonder if I may have a point, doesn’t it?

  • Paul Stevenson
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    1. and how many disposable men were there? probably alot more than 2.
    2. who cares. T’Pol from Star Trek wasn’t Green or blue nor was Leeloo from the 5th element – in fact there is millions of “sexy alien women” that aren’t green or blue.
    3. if she is not referred to by name then what are they meant to do in the credits? give us her life story?

    I also didn’t see you complaining about the musclebound good looking men in the film but I guess that’s because it doesn’t fit your victimhood narrative

    • Posted August 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      “Disposable women” is actually a common trope in media. “Disposable men” is not. There is a recurring pattern of films and TV series discarding women (as well as objectifying women), using them merely to propel the plot which typically revolves around men. Men in film are depicted in myriad roles, while women comprise less than one third of speaking roles in film. This makes tropes even more problematic because there are fewer examples of women on-screen.

      • Steven Lynch
        Posted August 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        You are high as a kite if you think disposable men are not a common trope. How many males died in those action scenes? How many women? You’re about as brainwashed as it gets I take it.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:04 am | Permalink

          Here’s a question, why do you care so much for the men, and yet so little for the women?
          Even though there are only six women, and 13 main male character?
          Don’t you think comparing those is a little unfair?

      • Damiano Bluto Lanzoni
        Posted August 18, 2014 at 3:53 am | Permalink

        I think it’s quite obvious that women comprise less speaking roles.
        And this happens for two reasons.
        First, a lot of films are about situations in which there are more men than women: war, crime, adventure/exploration, hystorical…
        How many female characters do you need in movies like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Master and Commander” or “Captain Philips”.
        Second, male actors are more marketable.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 22, 2014 at 3:46 am | Permalink

          I think you fact that you think male actors being more “marketable” is “normal” is a good indicator of why this needs to change.

  • JRyman
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Good, it was supposed to be a Marvel movie. Marvel fans or movie goers don’t fucking care.

    • Posted August 10, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Plenty of Marvel fans and movie goers do care.

      • JRyman
        Posted August 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        …yeah, sure they do. In the meantime it became one of the highest rated movies regardless of whether it is “feminist” or not.

  • Randall Simmons
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    This wasn’t supposed to be a feminist movie..
    Does every little thing, every little detail have to be a about feminists? No, now shut the hell up, this isn’t the way to get attention.

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      It astounds me that people will still see this as “Just wanting attention on a personal level” instead of the reality, which is that by bringing attention to these issues we can actually get society at large to RECOGNIZE them and DEAL with them.

  • Lucian Vâlsan
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    It’s not a feminist movie? GREAT! Two tickets for me and my girlfriend. I’ll go buy them right away so I won’t miss out. I will also buy two more tickets and donate them to those who can’t afford them.

    Every film that pisses off feminists should be supported as much as possible.

    • Elizabeth Black
      Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Really? You really can’t stand the idea of female equality that much? Sad… mostly for your girlfriend.

      • Zeph
        Posted August 18, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

        Feminism isn’t the only answer for female equality. Just like PETA isn’t the only answer against animal cruelty. In fact PETA is pretty terrible in regards to animal cruelty, just as modern feminism is pretty terrible in regards to female equality.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 19, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

          No, just White Women Feminism.

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Not to make you sound like an asshat or anything, but this attitude of “Pissing off feminists” is the same attitude that another person used as justification for why they posted threats on certain women’s pictures.

      In other words; do you think maybe there’s a link?

  • Caleb
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    The comments being left here are really stupid

  • Posted August 3, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    1- Peter Quill is the only human being in the movie.
    2- Gamora also did not care with Tortured Pink Girl.
    3- Only men can have casual sex?
    4- Where is Nebula? Where is Glenn Close in the movie?

    This text seems to forget many details on purpose.

  • Billy Plante
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Outraged by “tortured pink girl”. Completely ignores the countless men who die in the movie.

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Oh, okay. I’m sorry that we can’t spare a thought for all the noble nova corps men because we’re too busy pointing out how at least they weren’t FORCED into grabbing a nuke because their lives were hellish under a cruel dictator.

      And you 17 people who liked this REALLY need to understand why these things aren’t remotely equivalent.

      • Damiano Bluto Lanzoni
        Posted August 19, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

        @Romantic_Placebo:disqus
        Exactly: it’s not equivalent. The girl died in a tragic way and the audience felt that and sympathized with her.
        The countless men dying while doing their duty where just cannon fodder.
        There is a scene during a fight Groot impales a group of 5 soldiers and then uses them to beat other soldiers to death, and then smashed the impaled soldiers against two walls. Drax laughed, Groot’s smiled and everybody in the cinema laughed.
        A girl death? A tragic moment that defines how evil a character is..
        A group of men death? Comic relief
        Yeah, it’s definitely not equivalent.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 19, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

          The big difference is that when Carina dies, she’s one of only six female characters that women in the audience has to identify with.

          But when those nameless Sakaarans die, it’s only five out of the HUNDREDS of male characters, not even including the FOURTEEN main MALE ones.

          The part where Sarl and the Nova corps troops form and shield and die heroically trying to stop Ronan from destroying Xandar is a fine example of seeing the pain from male loses. So don’t try and act like it was so one-sided.

          But you don’t get to ignore how this is incomparable to the loss of a female character when there are only a handful of them in the film!

          Why do you do this? Why do you pick a moment like Groot’s beatdown to show the “double standard” but then call Carina’s forced suicide “A tragic moment that defines how evil a character is..” as though this is supposed to MAKE UP for the fact that lots of women in the audience just said “Goddamit, why are the girl characters constantly USED for a purpose, rather then allowed to actually BE!”

          • Damiano Bluto Lanzoni
            Posted August 19, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            “The part where Sarl and the Nova corps troops form and shield and die heroically trying to stop Ronan from destroying Xandar is a fine example of seeing the pain from male loses. ”

            So why no one talks about them?
            If, in this film, there had been no female deaths, someone would have talked about the countless deaths of men?
            I don’t think so.
            Why? Because women’s deaths are meaningful. Men’s deaths are not.
            There are COUNTLESS movies or novels in which the male main character dies sacrifing himself in order to save his woman, his family or his homeland.
            And no one complains about their “disposability”

          • Romantic Placebo
            Posted August 20, 2014 at 2:16 am | Permalink

            Stop talking about the COUNTLESS movies and focus on this one!

            Disposable men is a problem, but in a movie where 90% of the cast is male it still leaves plenty of male role models. It does NOT however leave more then TWO female ones.

            “There are COUNTLESS movies or novels in which the male main character
            dies sacrifing himself in order to save his woman, his family or his
            homeland.”

            Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the other side of this equation; to identify with a character who is turned into either a goal, or a “tragic” lost love who will apparently live out their days being unable to forgive themselves for the death of their husband/boyfriend because he was so damn GOOD?

            I bet after a while it just gets eye-rolling.

          • neroden
            Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            There are huge numbers of male and female characters working for Ronin. Disposable corpses all, just used for a purpose. Actually, I believe Ronin has a male lieutenant who is *just* a plot device, as well. Almost forgot him, he was so disposable.

            Guardians isn’t perfect; it’s still got an outright gender casting imbalance, certainly. But geez, it’s a lot better than everything else Marvel has put out — do any of the others even pass the Bechdel test? Credit for improvement.

  • Red
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  • Guest
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Say 3 reasons why ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ should be a feminist film.

    • Robin Hitchcock
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      1. Women will see it.
      2. Men will see it.
      3. It is 2014.

      • SSavat Trivedi
        Posted August 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        The Motte and Bailey that defines feminism essentially means that feminism means nothing. Literally everything and nothing falls under the auspice of feminism. It’s a corpse of a movement held up the hateful.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          “Literally everything and nothing falls under the auspice of feminism.”

          You know, I think if you considered the implications of what you were actually implying here, you might see that because feminism has so many things to say about different things it’s actually suggesting that the problems it seeks to fix are indicative of societal ills that are rooted so deeply that it’s just easier to dismiss them rather then confront them.

          Like you’re doing here.

      • Joe_Kickass
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Give me one good reason why it has to be feminist to get women to see it

        • Nefarious Nautilus
          Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

          It doesn’t, because I loved it, but I would have loved it more if they hadn’t treated the women in it like shit. Having more, better-written female characters makes the story better and gives us something more to relate to. I mean, did you need those specific jokes or elements to enjoy the film? Was that really your favorite part that you couldn’t live without? If they hadn’t been there, you wouldn’t have even noticed, but the fact that they were jarred lots of people out of the movie and hurt the story.

          “Feminist” isn’t a dirty word; it just means having the number of male and female characters- speaking and non-speaking- reflect who’s actually in our society. It costs the studio literally nothing, but makes the movie infinitely better.

      • Declan Bourne
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        1. Women have seen it, and will continue to do so
        2. Men have seen it, and will continue to do so
        3. It’s still 2014, not everything has to conform to your hate movement that rides on a false definition.

  • Bluedrgn
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Summary: When female characters are treated the same way male characters are treated it’s sexist!!! All female characters MUST be treated like special little flowers or girls might grow up to believe they are not superior to men or something!

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I missed the part where one of the male characters was enslaved under pain of torture and instead of overcoming it and living a full life, they were forced to grab a nuke that ate away their skin and then apparently no one even spared a thought for them afterward…

      It’s mind boggling that you think avoiding something like this makes them “little flowers,” as though the only way a character can be is if they are repeatedly beaten down and made desperate.

      Your repeated fear of women believing they are superior to men is laughable. A woman beats a male villain in a movie and she’s an exception to the unspoken rules that seem to prevent them from being heroes, not the example that will free all womankind. We won’t get that until our culture has just as many examples of women conquering the odds as there are men.

      • Bluedrgn
        Posted August 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        Men are enslaved and nuked in movies all the time. There was at least 10 times as many gratuitous “hunk” shots as there were female butt shots… and 99% of the men in any action movie are completely “disposable” (did you miss the hordes of men that existed in the movie for no other reason than to be killed off?). So, I repeat. The females in the movie were treated the same as the men in the movie.

        • Romantic Placebo
          Posted August 15, 2014 at 12:29 am | Permalink

          See, this is the part where I’m supposed to say “OH WHAT ABOUT THE MEN!” and then you would get stuffy and accuse me of being sexist and male hating (Even though I myself am male). But I’m not gonna do that.

          Instead, I’m going to point out that two dead people, one male, one female, don’t make the cost equal. Particularly when half the audience is trying to identify with the women.

          Specifically because of the characters with speaking/doing thing parts, the men outnumber the women ridiculously (Quill, Rocket, Drax, Groot(??) Rhomen Dey, Youndu, The Collecter, Korath, Denarian Snell, Kraglin, Thanos, and Ronan. While for female roles we have Gamora, Nebula, Meredith Quill, Nova Prime, Bereet, and Carina.)

          That’s 13 guys, all of which are either main characters (And are therefore important to the plot) or get to protect the city and be baddass, EVEN if they die in the process.
          Compare this with the 6 ladies, of which only two get to do anything plot relevant, and in fact end up fighting one another even though they are sisters. The other four either function to illuminate Peter Quill’s character (Meredith and Betreet) or just provide exposition (Nova Prime, and Carina does it only through her death, a death that comes from wanting to be free of The Collecter’s hold on her.)

          So even though you talk about each female character being “treated the same way as the male ones,” I think you’ll find that the majority of the men in this still are allowed to to MUCH more, and are not limited as much by their occupation. They get to fly spacehsips, save the city, beat the bad guys with numerous weapons, and yes, sacrifice themselves in a noble effort to keep Ronan at bay. All things that women should be able to do, only the movie consigns them to “helper” roles.

          The way you talk about “men being enslaved and nuked in movies all the time” cannot change the fact that when a women looks for a character they can identify with, they are left with far fewer ones. The idea of men being the “disposable gender” is technically true, (Ever think of how many imperial stormtroopers get wasted over the course of Star Wars? That’s a lotta male “blood”) But what you miss is how this is not a question of equality, because in order to describe equal treatment the number of males and females in a film would have to be much closer, as well as their agency in the plot itself.

          This is also true with the “fanservice,” only Guardians I think subverts this slightly. Sure Gamora is a green skinned space lady, but she isn’t really interested in Quill (Her reaction to him saving her and then trying to impress her with it is a great subversion) and the movie wisely does not include the “sexy” shot of her looking over her shoulder. Overall, Quill is the only one who brags about his “conquests” and rather then admire them his crew is actually disgusted by it. He DOES get a fanservicy shot, but I think you’ll find that the women in the audience don’t care as much about this as they do about the two pink skinned girls who’s only scenes were basically to be treated with disrespect by males.

          Look, we both liked the movie, probably for the same reasons. But people like the reviewer and me ALSO disliked how if you were a female viewer your ability to identify with the characters is also much more limited because of the few female characters onscreen, only a couple of them got to “Do” things, while the others existed simply to further the plot. Often by ceasing to exist.

          And if you grow up seeing movies like this, it’s apt to make you more critical when people talk about how much more “equal” things have gotten in our culture.

          So before you go back to that place where you’ll defend the director (Not that he needs defending, James Gunn is an awesome guy and this movie is awesome because of him and the original writer Nicole Perlman) or the story itself as though people disagreeing having a different reaction to something you like is unbearable, think about what these stories mean. To people besides yourself.

          • Zeph
            Posted August 18, 2014 at 3:22 am | Permalink

            Please speak for yourself. I cared much more for Peter Quill then I did for the pink skinned girls.

          • Romantic Placebo
            Posted August 18, 2014 at 3:34 am | Permalink

            I do speak for myself. I just also happen to have the same opinion of many female and male fans who think that maybe there’s something more to “speaking for yourself” when the issue is as unbalanced as this.

  • James
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I defitnately see your point, but I don’t think this was the films job to teach social lessons. The two females in the collectors scence are not there on there own accord they are there against there will and the one who tries to take the stone shows strength by trying to free them. As for Peter Quill’s “friend” on his ship is of course slightly sexist and absolutely funny as hell it’s also HOT I now have a huge crush on Bereet and would never forget her name lol. guys like females with green, pink, and blue skin because they they are a FANTASY not real. I enjoyed your post I enjoyed this movie even more.

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      How do you think it feels to lots of girls that a character they identify with is being used to cater to the male audience’s desire, while lacking her own story and even being treated as negligible by the “Hero”?
      I enjoyed the movie too, and because Bereet looked cool, but somehow remembering her name when she lacks a story seems disingenuous to all the women out there who want to see themselves reflected more in our culture.

  • Elizabeth Black
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Technically, you could argue the very fact that they’re a group/collective oppressed by the patriarchy, unable to survive without each other, fighting against the patriarchy, is feminist at its very core.

  • NakedAmericanMan
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I honestly am cool with the base premise of this article, but I can honestly say I disagree with all three of your major points here.

    1. This trait of Quill’s is not shown to be a positive thing. The joke is “look what a douche this guy is.” It’s a part of his central character flaw of eternally being the ten year old boy who couldn’t face the reality of his mother dying. Your other things you bring up here make a lot more sense, as strictly speaking, Quill’s mother fits the “fridging” trope to a tee, but his sleeping around and being a jackass about it was shown as a character flaw andi thought that was fairly obvious.

    2. I don’t think it’s really fair to drag in something an actor said which may have just been worded poorly. Your other complaints about Gamora, totally valid, but I really don’t think Saldana’s comments are necessarily reflective of what’s on screen, and again, might just not be well-thought out.

    3. This is probably more just how I was reading the scene, but I got the impression that Carina knew the Infinity Stone would kill her (she also witnessed the vision that The Collector showed the Guardians), and that’s WHY she grabbed it. She felt that dying would be better than the tortured existence she was living and took an opportunity when she saw it. Now perhaps that’s not really that much better, but I honestly did get the impression that she was intentionally killing herself.

    Again, I really am fine with the base idea of this article, acknowledging certain less-than-progressive elements in a work without condemning the work itself is something I think we should be able to do, and there’s a ton of works we could do it with (Kill la Kill? Anyone?) I’m just not sure about the actual points you’re making here.

  • Josh Gatsby
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    If you’re going to invoke TVTropes, at least use the correct ones. In this movie, Thanos is the Big Bad, Ronan is The Dragon

    Quill’s mother is not a “disposable woman”, she drives the whole damn film. She’s forever with Quill until the last scenes. Were you facing backwards in the cinema with your fingers in your ears?

    As for “trite” sexism… I recall Gamora pulling a blade to Quill’s throat during what would usually be anticipated as a kiss scene. Yeah, pretty trite stuff! I think Gamora not succumbing to Quill is a nice subversion. The opposite would be trite.

    The last point is so flimsy I shouldn’t even start. You’re outlaws and you go to a foreign planet with no rules to sell something illegally for billions. There’s a woman in a cage. What would you be focusing on? Also it sounds like you didn’t understand what happened when Carina grabbed the Inifinity stone. We’d all just been shown the power of the stone was for God-like organisms that couldn’t even handle the power shared. She just grabbed it. She wanted to die.

    Anyway, at least it appears you liked the film. Nice try at an inflammatory article. Extinguished.

  • Matthew Moyer
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Lately, every article I read that is written by a feminist is mindless, egocentric whining about how the universe refuses to acknowledge that it should revolve around vagina.

    • Romantic Placebo
      Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      You realize the alternative is that the world refuses to recognize that a movie doesn’t have to revolve around a penis.

  • Romantic Placebo
    Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised this review didn’t mention how out of character Peter Quill’s addition of “Bitch” to his takedown of Ronan was.

    • Posted August 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      I did notice that. It seemed tacked on to the scene and while I didn’t like it, I thought it was a minor point compared to those I discussed in the review.

    • neroden
      Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, grossly inappropriate, that.

  • clarksonmalaysia
    Posted October 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Good points, although the reason he is ‘collecting’ women is because he is obsessed with finding a mother figure so he can reconcile the opportunity he bungled on her death bed. It is actually a fairly keen foundation on which to build his character, although I can understand on the surface it is a bit alarming.

    The psychology of the movie is fairly mature. Same thing with Skyfall. Deep, deep scripts.

    The shocking misogynist moment in Guardians came when Drax is insulting all of the characters after some intense moment or other. He does it in his literal way, and the insults are all played for laughs. For some reason, and I found this shocking, he calls Gamora a “green whore”. Whore? Why!? Where the hell did that come from? He’s literal, she’s obviously NOT a whore, not even close, so why does he say it? And to play it for a laugh? In light of a very intelligent script, it was the one moment that was so absolutely tone-deaf, it stood out like a sore thumb.

    • neroden
      Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I thought that was really out of place and extremely inappropriate. Some have said that it may be a bizarre leftover from an aborted pun on her species name. Should have been deleted.

  • neroden
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think most of these criticisms are sound.

    GoTG is still worlds better than anything else Marvel has put out; it’s easily the *most* feminist movie which Marvel has put out. This may simply indicate how bad all the others are, but still.

    Point for point:

    — The hero’s mother dying as motivation for the hero is an old trope, I admit, and it’s sexist for it to always be the mother. On the other hand, she dies of natural causes, which isn’t quite the standard version of this trope. And his father is also already missing, which also isn’t standard.

    — The situation with the Collector is meant to show that the Collector is really a very bad person. (In the comics, the Collector is pretty much a straight-up villian.) I suppose he could have had male slaves as well, but maybe he’s supposed to be sexist. The enslaved Carina DOES make a bid for her freedom by grabbing the Infinity Gem, which is a change to the trope, and actually is quite a surprising moment in the movie if you’re used to the trope.

    As for the other member of her race… most of the characters in the glass boxes seemed to escape as the power surge blew open the boxes and destroyed the chains. I assumed that she survived (and ran).

    Every one of the Guardians is quite the self-interested A-hole, and this is established from the beginning. In addition to the irresponsible Quill, we have the obsessive Drax, the very-recently-reformed killer Gamora, and the alienated bounty hunters Rocket and Groot. These are antiheroes every one of them, and so of course they don’t try to save the victims. Especially not on the “no laws” world while dealing with the stupendously powerful Collector.

    — Quill’s inappropriate sexual behavior — almost compulsive — is played as inappopriate,
    unpopular, and a character flaw. Even Rocket insults him for it. You’re actually very clearly supposed to dislike this. Though I think the filmmakers are having it both ways by appealing to laddish types who aren’t paying attention.

    — Saldana’s comments are, well, I’m glad she isn’t writing the movie, but she isn’t.

    — There’s some pointlessly casual sexist dialogue which I like to think Gunn inserted because I’d hope Nicole Perlman wouldn’t have. Thankfully there isn’t very much of it.

    — No character gets a full treatment, due to the presence of 10 major characters in one movie, including 5 antiheroes (the Guardians), 4 villians (Thanos, Nebula, Ronin, the Collector), and 1 neutral (Quill’s pirate mentor). With this dense a cast and story, the movie is bound to lean on tropes. The fact that it avoids almost all of the common sexist tropes while doing so is actually quite extraordinary and should be praised. I give credit to Nicole Perlman for that.

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