Guardians of the Galaxy
2014
***
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

Peter Quill, who was abducted from Earth as a young boy, is a wisecracking intergalactic swindler who gets his hands on a powerful orb and ends up leading a ragtag group of extraterrestrials, which includes a green Kung fu hottie, a slow-witted ruffian, a sarcastic raccoon, and a monosyllabic space Ent. These characters are lovely, but I’ve never been totally won over by this enjoyable franchise launch, which has become one of the best loved releases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the world depicted here owes more to Star Wars than to the studio’s Earth-bound superheroes, the end result offers very few surprises. There is a hero with mommy/daddy issues and a one-note villain whose sole motivation is to be evil. Followed by Vol 2 (2017).