Dec. 16, 2015
AmStudies 316: Envisioning Other Worlds
Final Reflection Paper
FRIENDS + BONDING = FAMILY
Guardians of the Galaxy critiques the connections we hold to family versus friends. In today’s modern world with so many broken families due to divorce, domestic violence, and loss, this film allows us to see how most often friendship creates a stronger sense of family. In the beginning, the movie takes on our world dated back to the 1980’s. The audience is oriented within a hospital room. Peter Quill is a child, and his mother is dying of cancer. Uncomfortable with the reality of this, young Peter does not reach out for her hand turning the other way. His mother passes. Suddenly, Peter reaches out for her hand knowing it is too late, and his grandfather takes him out of the room isolating him from everyone. This scene signifies how the film constructs family bonds, or lack thereof, through uses of memory. Peter does not comfort his mother in the face of death, as does his grandfather in dealing with Peter’s loss. Much like Big Hero 6, we see how Guardians of the Galaxy creates a family bond that replaces the absence of family. As a result, this allows for diversity, inclusion, and enforces that friendship is a power that shifts individualism into a communal mindset.
At the end, this beginning scene reiterates itself as Gamora takes on the role of Peter Quill’s mother. With the emphasis of Peter Quill’s memory, Gamora reaches out her hand to help. His flashback illustrates the importance of his friends like family connecting both. Another key contrast is that, when Quill takes the risk of death by holding the Power Stone at the end, Gamora and the team unify and come together, unlike how Quill’s grandfather isolates him making him handle the situation independently. They demonstrate a stronger bond than his original human family creating a stronger type of bond.
If we look to Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” we can connect the scenes where both superhero teams emerge. They both band together through a strong sense of friendship creating a family. For example, when Hiro imagines upgrading them into superheroes Go Go mentions, “Tadashi Hamada was our best friend” (Big Hero 6). She instills this notion that in dealing with loss, the friend’s intrinsic motivation for justice surfaces. In a similar vain as Go Go, Gamora says, “I have lived most of my life surrounded by my enemies. I would be grateful to die surrounded by my friends” (Guardians of the Galaxy). In both scenarios we see how death is confronted to connect these teams. The difference, however, is that unlike Big Hero 6, this moment holds a stronger significance to Guardians of the Galaxy. Up until this point in the film, the main characters are misfit convicts, whereas in Big Hero 6, they are all friends connected to Tadashi, Hiro’s brother. For Gamora to consider them friends shows that she connects with the others. This extends further at the end as Groot sacrifices himself saying, “We are Groot” (Guardians of the Galaxy). This shift from “I” to “we” shows how everyone’s mindset shifts from selfishness to a collective team. Groot’s words illustrate how his friends are worth “dying for” emphasizing Gamora’s words earlier on in the film.
Like Groot, Baymax as well sacrifices himself for Hiro. By deactivating himself within the portal, he ensures the safety of Hiro. Both take on the role of care-taking showing how in modern superhero movies there is a shift to a family-oriented team sharing a strong bond much like loved ones. Groot’s “We” shows how close they really are and allows for a connection to others, which is human characteristics: inclusion and bonding.
Additionally, it is important to note how interracial and inter-species related characters still find ways to connect. This is a progressive theme that has been increasingly popular among many new and more modern films. By doing so, “Guardians of the Galaxy” illustrate diversity spanning from a human to a cyber-genetic raccoon and talking tree. The movie takes these different characters and unifies them putting aside their external appearances. It shows the modern world about inclusion and the idea of moving past prejudices and segregation, which is a topic that still addresses our modern world.
Guardians of the Galaxy and Big Hero 6 invite audiences to identify the strength of friendship. Unlike most superhero movies, the teams are built under a strong reliance of each other. With embedded learning throughout Guardians of the Galaxy, the team builds human-like relationships regardless of if they are human, robot, or alien. Additionally with this in mind, Guardians of the Galaxy invites audiences to consider the importance of diversity. This is a superhero movie where a connection between the human world and alien world collide, showing that misfits can also find a place of belonging somewhere in between. Acceptance is vital in a world where selfishness is extremely prevalent. Allowing you to care for others is just the beginning of developing friendships. With these friends comes a support system that is deeper than the reality of broken families. These friendships become family. With both films, audiences are asked to consider if their friends are also “worth dying for” rather than being surrounded by strangers.
Big Hero 6. Dir. Don Hall and Chris Williams. Disney, 2014. Blu-Ray Disc.
Guardians of the Galaxy. Dir. James Gunn. Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures, 2014. DVD.