The Guardians of the Galaxy animated series is back from the dead. Well, not dead, really. I knew there would be a second season, but really, I thought we were done with the first season already. The Guardians are back however, along with Nebula, Ronan, and the Grandmaster. Meet me after the jump for my review of “Fox on the Run.”
We open on Gamora, using a Raiders of the Lost Ark cliche to make a heist. She’s interrupted by her colleagues asking where she went and what she’s up to. Now I dig on some solo Gamora action, as we really don’t get all that much, but this didn’t really work for me. Maybe it’s just the way my mind works but I found this odd, for a couple reasons.
The Milano seems like a rather small ship in which the Guardians live and work. It feels like they’re on top of each other in most episodes. First, how could one slip away under such conditions, and second, why would anyone think their disappearance wouldn’t be noticed? Just asking, ya know?
Redemption and Villainy
The McGuffin Gamora was after was an Anti-Gravity Matrix that she had stolen back in the days when she was one of Thanos’ goons working for Ronan. She seeks redemption and wants to return it to the planet she stole it from, now a desolate wasteland of killer sandstorms due to the lack of the device. It’s nice that she brought it back, but the natives aren’t going to let Gamora get away unpunished.
Luckily for her, this is a trap. Nebula is there to save her sister from the natives, but only so she can capture her for her own ends. When Gamora awakes, we find that her sister has also allied herself with Ronan the Accuser and the Grandmaster. No mention is made of how any of them survived their seeming deaths when last we saw them. It’s also odd to see the comics version of the Grandmaster next to the cinematic Nebula and Ronan. I guess it’s too much and too early to ask for a sneak peek at Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok.
Gamora is brought to Conjunction to undergo a trial by combat in the arena, against three opponents, with her life and the planet she tried to save in the balance. I understand how this kind of nonsense benefits the Grandmaster, but really, why would Ronan and Nebula put up with this nonsense? It’s almost as if they are players in a game of the Grandmaster rather than there of their own free will. That would have made it more sensible at least.
Gamora is pitted against Wraith, a character from the Annihilation saga; Jarhead, also from the cosmic adventures of the comics Guardians of the Galaxy; and an Elemental Beast, which I’ve never heard of. This last is supposedly the last of its kind, a race wiped out by Gamora. That’s a pretty brutal charge of near-genocide. Was she really that evil, following orders or not?
The Guardians catch up and have to save Gamora, because Marvel. The Marvel Animated Universe doesn’t seem to think much of women in general. I remember how often Black Widow was simply ignored in Avengers Assemble and Gamora’s similar treatment here. Apparently females exist, if at all, to be rescued. Marvel, you need to get with the program. Even when you spotlight Gamora, she ends up a damsel in distress.
The treatment of the other Guardians however is not much better. Unless you’re the white alpha male, Star-Lord, who is effectively both a child and the unwanted star of this series, you are delegated to tired comic relief. Once again, Groot, Rocket, and Drax are one-note jokes when their charismatic uniqueness should make them (and Gamora) the stars.
Two lines of dialogue cement what I’m saying and what’s wrong with this episode, and a lot of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. After the defeat of the Elemental Beast, Star-Lord cockily says, “They don’t call me a hero for nothing.” to which Gamora replies, “That’s the problem, Quill, this isn’t about you.” That alone says so much. Even the showrunners are aware of the problem, so why won’t they fix it?
Even the music, which was so integral to the movie that launched this animated series is gone. The title of the episode is only a pun relating to the content, and the classic rock song, “Fox on the Run” by The Sweet, is not featured, being replaced by some other tune, more modern, that I didn’t recognize. In the early days of the season, even when the episode wasn’t great, it still had the classic rock connection. Not here.
After this episode, maybe Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy should have ended its first season when I thought it did. This is just more of the same of the worst of went before…