With such successes as Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble under their belt Marvel Studios animation wing is heading to Knowhere when it officially debuts Guardians of the Galaxy on Disney XD. If you can’t wait for the show’s September 26 premiere, Disney XD is letting viewers check out the first episode this Saturday at 9pm EST.
We’ve seen it and can come down from the mountain to proclaim “it’s Guardians!” The Beat is going to keep this spoiler free as we’ll have a ton more to talk about regarding the show soon. For now let’s just talk about if this first episode from Stephen Wacker, Cort Lane and the rest of the Marvel animation team is an awesome mix or a Vanilla Ice album.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on Disney XD is the Guardians most people now know… from the movie. In fact the series premiere almost jumps right out of the James Gunn film. Instead of retelling the team’s origin story, the episode almost counts on having seen the movie. Which is ballsy for a cartoon aimed at non comic book reading kids who may not have been the intended audience in theaters last year. Ahead of anything fans saw from the series, Disney put out animated vignettes going into the origins of each character. If you were completely new to GOTG it probably didn’t do much to peak your interest because Guardians appeal has always been in the team dynamic more than each character as stand alone. The premiere episode cashes in on that right out of the gate. Just like in the film; Rocket and Groot are this team’s heart and soul. If you loved baby Groot in the film, you’ll be in for a treat here.
How close does this Guardians parallel the film version. Marvel went through the financial trouble of including licensed music in the series. Yep, our little Star-Lord has an even more awesome mix which I won’t spoil what songs you’ll hear. Though I hope the film’s music supervisor is listening cause some of them I want in VOL 2.
I can’t talk story details without giving too much away, but I can tell you the premiere sets up the season nicely with Thanos search for another ultimate power in the universe. Let’s hope he has better luck in the upcoming 24 episodes than he does gathering Infinity Stones in the MCU.
It couldn’t have been an easy task to cast the right voices to follow the –lightning in a bottle– ensemble from the MCU. Fortunately, the show didn’t have to. GOTG animated features performances by voice actors who are no stranger to adaptations of big film characters. Kevin Michael Richardson out “Groots” Vin Diesel. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoyed Toretto’s rendition of the talking space tree, but the animated series gives Richardson more room to play with the character by voicing baby Groot. Vanessa Marshall, Trevor Devall, David Sobolov all turn in great performances worthy of their MCU counter parts. Perhaps the role that will be most scrutinized by older viewers will be Star-Lord voiced by the incomparable Will Friedle. Yep Terry McGinnis, Eric Matthews, Ron F’n Stoppable is your –not just guest starring– Peter J. Quill.
So is he good?
Just not in the same way.
On screen Pratt gave Star-Lord a suave immaturity that worked. Friedle gives the character more of a man-child vibe that has to steer away from the overt sexuality of the character on film. Remember this is a kids show so Peter probably won’t be bragging about his conquests. The best way to analogy this comparison is this: picture Johnny Depp in later roles with rugged good looks, then picture Depp in 21 Jumpstreet with boyish good looks. They’re both gawk worthy but maybe not for the same reasons.
The only aspect of this incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy that was noticeably not on point was the animation itself. Ultimate Spider-Man remains current Marvel Animation’s best looking show which is drawn/designed by Film Roman. Maybe best looking is a harsh jab at the other shows such as Avengers and Agents of SMASH, but Ultimate Spider-Man does the better job of drawing the acting on screen to go with the voice work. There were just spots in this premiere episode that could have used a facial movement or a gesture of some kind. In animation missing acting is akin to having dead air on the radio. For Guardians sake I hope this gets better in season two because this is a show with great dialogue given life by a stellar cast.
While the team has already been established in a radically different way on other shows such as Ultimate Spider-Man; it’s not hard to imagine GOTG’s big villain Thanos could be used as a connecting thread to the other Marvel animated shows in the future. Once Guardians lands with its audience can we start calling it the Marvel Animated U?
Catch the Guardians of the Galaxy sneak peak this Saturday and tell us what you thought.