The One Glaring Problem with “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Spoiler-phobes, this post should be relatively safe for you — there are a few minor plot points discussed, but nothing big.

I’m going to start off by saying that Guardians of the Galaxy — the new Marvel flick starring Andy Dwyer, erm, I mean Chris Pratt — is FUN. Just pure good entertaining fun. I haven’t grinned that much in a theater in a LONG time. Go check it out if you haven’t, it comes highly recommended from this camp (and literally everyone else I’ve talked to who’s seen it).

That said — when Byron and I left the theater and got in the car to head home, I turned to him and said, “You know what my one annoyance with the movie was?”

“What?”

“They didn’t let Zoe Saldana’s character DO anything.”

His immediate reaction: “I KNOW!”

Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, billed as “The Deadliest Woman in the Whole Galaxy.” This is well established in the movie, her supposed deadliness. She’s been programmed since childhood to be an assassin — she’s even been surgically modified to be more of a Badass Killing Machine — and the viewer gets the impression that she’s unstoppable.

UNTIL she meets Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, aka our main hero. And then apparently she can’t do anything.

Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, she meets Quill and can’t even steal a small orb from him. Because she gets knocked out by a raccoon. I mean, a kickass raccoon, but still. Raccoon vs. Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy? Come on. Throughout the rest of the movie, she gets saved by Quill not once, but twice. Once the cogs of the movie start turning, Gamora seems to exist to either a) motivate our hero, or b) serve as his new love interest.

Which just… UUUGGGGHHH.

Gamora’s character made me immediately think of this article by Tasha Robinson: “We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome.” Robinson’s article starts out with an example from another movie — but this quote applies directly to Gamora as well:

She’s wise. She’s principled. She’s joyous. She’s divided. She’s damaged. She’s vulnerable. She’s something female characters so often aren’t in action/adventure films with male protagonists: She’s interesting.

Too bad the story gives her absolutely nothing to do.

Robinson gives a checklist to see if your female character perhaps fits the bill of the Trinity Syndrome — “the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.” Gamora hits a lot of the marks.

(Credit where credit’s due — Gamora DOES have a big fight scene at the end of the movie. But that felt weirdly anticlimactic to me after everything else.)

This may all seem like minor quibbling. And it kind of is — I really DID enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy. But I’m annoyed because it was SO close to being a perfect movie. There was so much potential for Gamora to be a really kickass character. Instead, she’s given wooden, exposition-laden dialogue and serves as a catalyst for our hero. Excuse me, but I think I’ve seen this play out before.

Maybe there’s still hope. There’s obviously going to be a Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Maybe they’ll give Gamora something really kickass to do in THAT movie. You’re ALMOST there, Marvel — I know you can do it.

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