In less than five months Guardians will hit the screens: a Russian movie, which is considered by many an answer to Marvel’s The Avengers and establishing DC’s Justice League. How good the answer will be?
Well, first we need to take a quick glance at how Marvel got started (no point in looking at DC, since it can hardly be called a start). The very first film was Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau, who had three films behind his back (2001 – Made, 2003 – Elf, 2005 – Zathura). The cast included such names as Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges. Now let’s look at Guardians. The director is Sarik Andreasyan. On the one hand, he has a whole lot more movies on his list than Favreau. But most of them were both financially and critically flopped comedies. Favereau’s, on the other hand, hold strong ratings.
The actors are unknown. Only Anton Pampushniy, who plays the bear with a gun, starred in a few low budget films and TV shows. So, the star power is lacking, and the director is known mostly for his cheap comedy films.
Second, the source material. MCU did not come out of the blue, neither did DCEU. They had more than 80 years of comic book material, hundreds of established characters, plot lines. They had 4-generation audience, eager to see the movies. And Guardians are, as the Russian saying goes, “sucked out of finger”.
The creativity does not impress either. The four main characters are: Ler, a.k.a. “Landman”; Ursus, a.k.a. “Wildman”; Khan, a.k.a. “Windman”; and Xenia, a.k.a. “Waterwoman”. These four fellows are gathered by an organisation called “Patriot”. The antagonist is August Karatov, who plans to use some device called “Module-01” to capture first Moscow, and then the world with an army of clones. There are obvious similarities to Avengers, Legends of Tomorrow and Hellboy.
The name of the movie is also not a good marketing step – it’s the same title for MCU’s television crossover miniseries, which was announced in 2013. You can’t really blame the translators, since MCU’s The Defenders in Russian is also called “Zaschitniki”.
Now we get to the real numbers – the costs. Iron Man’s budget was $150 million, Avenger’s was $220 million, Avengers: Age of Ulron’s – $250 million. The budget of Defenders is 320 million Rubles, which is approximately $5 million. Well, perhaps they’re not building a cinematic universe of Marvel scope, but that still raises alarm.
I may be a little too critical, but let’s consider the facts. On August 23 came out a teaser trailer. It was criticised for bad acting and bad special effects. Majority of bad reviews came from Russia. Any way, the result is to be seen in February, 2017.
Interestingly enough, the order for a second installment has already been made. And they’re planning to add more super-heroes on the way.
One little note I’d like to make is that it doesn’t really matter how bad this movie will be. Its main function is political. Defenders is one of twenty three projects, that received financial aid from the Russian Ministry of Culture in 2015. Second, the plot, apart from being simple and cliched, is pretty chauvinistical. While it is not yet specified, whether the main story will take place at present day, it is said that the team was created during the Cold War. All four members come from different Soviet republics – Khan will most likely represent Kazakhstan, Xenia is probably Russian, Ler comes from some Caucasus country (Armenia is most probable). So, making a film with such a plot now, twenty years after the USSR collapsed and all these countries gained independence, is quite offensive. Should all these people from different countries head down to Moscow and protect it from its own terrorists (as Karatov sounds like a pretty Russian surname)?
Links for further info: http://screenanarchy.com/2015/08/russia-gets-a-superhero-team-of-their-own-with-guardians.html