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Guardians of the Galaxy: What Its Success Means for Marvel Studios

It accomplished much more than getting "Hooked on a Feeling" stuck in your head.

Guardians of the Galaxy has been a huge success for Marvel Studios. Last weekend, director James Gunn's heartfelt and hilarious movie held the top spot at the box office yet again. And, as you all probably know by now, the sci-fi adventure has also generated a mountain of money and received overwhelmingly positive reviews. A sequel was confirmed before the movie was even released and we know Guardians of the Galaxy's quality means plenty of people will purchase a ticket when the second movie opens, but what else does it mean for Marvel Studios? So, grab a drink, get comfortable, play a song from the Awesome Mix and let's chat about what this sci-fi movie means for Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general.

Okay, who else wants to go see the movie again?
Okay, who else wants to go see the movie again?

First and foremost, Guardians of the Galaxy was a fairly risky move for Marvel Studios. Yes, the studio's a marketing machine and has built a fanbase with previous projects -- so that alone guarantees the movie won't a complete failure -- but this movie is unlike anything else they've created. We all know this movie was going to bring in some money, but how much was absolutely open for debate. Instead of being a slight disappointment in Marvel's eyes, audiences threw their money at the movie and many happily watched it more than once. Because, you know, it's seriously lovable. This surprised many and for a very simple reason: the pre-existing fanbase for this team isn't big. Like, at all.

While heroes like Iron Man or Thor weren't exactly popular among moviegoers before Marvel Studios began its universe, the general public at least had a basic understanding of the characters. Iron Man? Smart dude in an armor that flies and shoots stuff with his hands. Thor? That dude with fabulous hair and a mighty hammer. The understanding is simple enough to generate interest, especially after the way the movies are marketed and some big names are included. However, Guardians of the Galaxy not only goes sci-fi heavy and sports a very unique vibe, but it also features five characters that even many comic book fans aren't that knowledgeable about.

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When there's so many big budget movies being released, it was uncertain how big of a success GotG would be and whether it could keep audiences going back into theaters for more. Fans can only spend so much money at the movies, after all. On top of a vast majority of audiences thinking this is a wacky sci-fi movie with cosmic characters they've never heard of, the biggest names are hidden behind CGI beings (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). Luckily, Gunn's a thoroughly talented director and the project not only taught everyone about these characters, but it also made them fall in love with the unique team. A premise like this has the potential to come off as too ridiculous and silly, but thanks to a strong script and skilled handling of the scenes, it worked and then some.

When so many movies struggle to give proper attention to multiple teammates, Guardians of the Galaxy gave five totally new characters an impressive amount of depth and focus. It just goes to show that, in the right hands, Marvel can turn almost any individual or team into a successful feature film, and we all know just how many heroes and teams the Studio has at its disposal. Sure, the plot wasn't noteworthy, but the focus on character most definitely was. If they could make the Guardians of the Galaxy popular among the general audience, this should give them the confidence to continue selecting characters that aren't in the A-list or are mostly unfamiliar to non-comic book fans. We know Marvel Studios likes to look very far ahead, so GotG's triumph should open the door to so many more options. At this point, nothing should be stopping them from making Black Panther, the Inhumans, Blade (yup, they have the rights back!), or Captain Marvel big players in Phase 4 and beyond. It's just a matter of finding the right director and cast -- GotG proves this.

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While Warner Bros. is obviously going for a completely different tone with its DC properties, a talking tree and a gun-crazy "racoon" raking in the big bucks could make the studio more open to eventually dipping into its vast cosmic pool of teams and heroes. And, according to a new rumor, it looks like GotG's prosperity has possibility motivated them to consider properties which previously could have been deemed as too out-there or unpopular.

We know we'll be seeing more of the team in the sequel and it has been said there's plans to have the group bump into the Avengers (Rocket arguing with Iron Man could be priceless), but considering just how big of a hit the movie was, it seems more than likely that Gunn will be given the opportunity to direct a third Guardians of the Galaxy film. When Marvel Studios presents a character -- or, in this case, a team -- it looks like the plan is to give them a trilogy (while also working in cameos elsewhere) and then make room for new franchises to shine. This can be seen as Cap and Thor enter approach their third movies and the studio will soon begin push Doctor Strange and Ant-Man. Will some characters eventually go beyond a trilogy? Only time will tell, but right now it seems like Marvel wants to give viewers three doses of something they love and then introduce them to something new. So, if the first GotG movie included the Nova Corps, Adam Warlock's Cocoon and brought in Howard the Duck just for laughs, we can only imagine how Gunn and Marvel Studios will continue to expand the cinematic universe's cosmic scene as they move forward with the franchise.

Could we eventually see the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy get their own spin-off movies -- basically the reverse of what happened with The Avengers? There's no sign that'll happen, but after this movie became such a victory for Marvel, the possibility is definitely there. This film teased a rich story for each of these characters and, despite Groot or Rocket often being the favorite characters, many viewers ended up liking all of them. How cool would a Groot & Rocket Racoon team-up movie or a Gamora solo adventure be? Answer: very cool.

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Last and certainly not least, Gunn's work with GotG has apparently solidified his relationship with Marvel Studios. He seems to totally embrace the cosmic universe and all of the craziness that comes with it. Wacky and fun works well for the studio and it's a tone Gunn handles incredibly well (Slither and Super also proved this). Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but based on his posts made via social media accounts, it definitely looks like he has a positive relationship with the studio and he's more than earned their faith. So, here's hoping they not only give him three GotG movies, but also grant him the opportunity to bring other cosmic properties front and center as he works to expand the evergrowing cosmic stage. Now, we're not saying he should hog the spotlight and be the go-to guy for every movie that takes place outside of Earth, but he without question has what it takes to make unfamiliar franchises a hugely entertaining experience which can be enjoyed by all kinds of fans. When it comes to Marvel potentially focusing on cosmic characters that are unknown to a vast majority of moviegoers (e.g. Inhumans), that's a pretty important talent to bring to the project.