Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – The 10th Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie – Directed by James Gunn – Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Alex Denisof, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Serafinowicz, Gregg Henry, Laura Haddock, Alex Denisof, Josh Brolin, Lloyd Kaufman, Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie, Seth Green, and Stan Lee.
Welcome to a series of specific, character-based reactions to the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Spoilers lie ahead. You can read the review of the GUARDIANS movie here, and you can read all of my superhero movie reviews (and the specific character reactions to Marvel’s The Avengers) right here. One note – I have watched the movie twice but we’re working on a week since I’ve seen it last so it is entirely possible (but completely unintentional) that I might get a quote or two wrong. If I do, I can only apologize and ask that you feel free to correct me. Thanks.
“Don’t touch that stone!” – The Collector
Okay, let me ask this right at the top because I missed it in the film and I’d honestly like an explanation:
What happened to the Infinity Stone?
No, not the stone that the Guardians take from Ronan and give to the Nova Corps, and not the Tesseract that’s being held in Asgard.
I’m talking about the Aether, the Stone that almost destroyed the world in THOR: THE DARK WORLD, the one that Sif and Volstagg then delivered to the Collector in a post-credits scene.
Where is it?
Because the Collector had it and was very happy to have, yet here, from what I can recall, there’s no mention of the Aether (or whatever Stone it’s supposed to be) and it seems like the Collector might want to make sure he’s got it. Or was it mentioned that he gave it away? Or did he have it sitting by him and I missed it?
One Stone is in Asgard, one is with the Nova Corps, and the third is … I don’t know, but it’s kinda important, so if I missed it, please do tell me.
On to the Reaction:
The Collector is a weird cat. Taneleer Tivan (Benicio del Toro) collects things, and those things include living specimens, like his ex-assistant and Cosmo the Russian Spacedog and Adam Warlock’s cocoon and a dark elf and maybe Beta Ray Bill and definitely Howard the Duck. That’s not really a nice thing to do, and I would have preferred the MCU-version of the Collector simply be a collector of objects, as it makes it a bit unpleasant when our protagonists don’t raise any objections to seeing people locked up in glass cubes.
On the other hand, no one who’s met the Collector, yet, is a tried-and-true superhero. Sif and Volstagg are warriors, after all, and if Thor is okay working with Loki after all he’s done, they’re probably not going to get political with Taneleer when they’re only there to put one of the most powerful objects in the universe into his hands. All governments do occasional business with bad people.
Likewise, Quill, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot appear on his doorstep to sell him what turns out to be one of the most powerful objects in the universe, so it’s in character, I think, for a criminal, an assassin, and two bounty hunters to not hold a sit-in upon their arrival. Rocket clearly isn’t about to let the Collector have Groot, and Gamora is an assassin in the recent employ of Thanos and Ronan, so crusading for social causes is not something in her history.
The not-yet-named Guardians are also on the run from Ronan, and they’ve come to Knowhere because that’s where Gamora’s buyer is; it’s understandable (if not decidedly heroic) that their first concern is getting rid of the orb and hightailing it out of the dead Celestial’s head.
Plus, you know, they do sorta see that most everyone gets freed when the Infinity Stone goes kablooey.
The takeaway message for me regarding the Collector and everyone’s non-reaction to his collection is that Taneleer has positioned himself as an Important Person in the universe. He’s the equivalent of a zoo keeper. People might not like what he’s doing, but he stays hidden away in Knowhere and doesn’t flaunt his actions. It’s easy for people to forget about what they don’t see or convince themselves that they don’t need to act when the problem can be passed on to someone else. The Collector is also passive in the MCU. He waits or orchestrates people into coming to him.
I am a bit disappointed by the Collector’s appearance in GUARDIANS in that we don’t get more of him. He provided a few good laughs in his interactions with the Guardians (including Rocket mocking his hand gestures), but I still want to know if he was given the Aether by Actual Odin because he really didn’t want two Infinity Stones in the Golden Realm, or if was sent to him by Loki-in-Disguise Odin as a way to feed the Stones to Thanos.
In GUARDIANS, he’s contacted Gamora into bringing the orb to him in order to keep it from Ronan, which would give him two Infinity Stones. He also plays the role of Exposition Man here, giving us the history of the Stones and the Celestials. By opening the orb to reveal the Stone, he also serves the narrative function of showing us what happens to someone who tries to possess the Power Stone. His assistant, Karina, gives it a whirl and gets blown up, sacrificing herself to the literary gods of Showing, Not Telling.
At the end of the film, it’s the Collector who gets the post-credits scene, looking sullen and trying to drink his blues away. He first gets licked in the face by Cosmo, and then gets insulted by Howard the Duck.
Howard the Damn Duck.
I thought it was the perfect ending to the movie, as Howard is Marvel’s King of Oddball Characters, and we’d already gotten our Thanos appearance mid-film. I get that it’s a missed opportunity to continue the story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two, but I think it’s more than worth it for the laugh and the acknowledgment of Howard’s existence.
The Collector doesn’t do much in GUARDIANS except to relay a bunch of information to us as the film pivots from the Guardians running from Ronan to the Guardians going after him, but his presence does provide us with a whole mess of easter eggs.
I can drink to that.
And so can Howard.
The Complete Box of GUARDIANS Reactions
1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: Ain’t No Thing Like Me Except Me
2. GOTG: The YONDU Reaction
3. GOTG: The NEBULA Reaction
4. GOTG: The KORATH Reaction
5. GOTG: The GROOT Reaction
6. GOTG: The CORPSMAN DEY Reaction
7. GOTG: The NOVA PRIME Reaction
8. GOTG: The RONAN Reaction
9. GOTG: The DRAX Reaction
10. GOTG: The COLLECTOR Reaction
11. GOTG: The GAMORA Reaction
12. GOTG: The STAR-LORD Reaction
13. GOTG: The ROCKET Reaction