monday morning movie club

Is This the Best Part of Guardians of the Galaxy? (Yes)

Photo: Maya Robinson and Photo by Marvel

Did you see Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend? (You did.) Did you totally adore it? (You did!) Once upon a time, Marvel’s space-set adventure-comedy was regarded as an expensive risk; now, though, it may be the company’s most lucrative new franchise. It’s the movie everyone wants to talk about … and there’s one moment in particular that seems to be dominating the conversation, a moment that’s got to be considered the best part of Guardians of the Galaxy. Let’s discuss it!

It’s here where we must warn you that this post contains SPOILERS. We’re going to discuss some end-of-movie stuff, people! If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet, don’t read any further. You wouldn’t understand what we’re talking about, anyway.

So, what is the best part of Guardians of the Galaxy? Oh, come on, don’t act like you didn’t know as soon as you read the headline: The best part of Guardians of the Galaxy is Dancing Baby Groot, case closed, objections dismissed.

Dancing Baby Groot is the best part of the movie for several important reasons:

1. Holy shit, it’s a baby tree and it’s dancing

2. OMG so cute

3. Nearly every superhero movie feels forced to end on a significant moment that sets up more adventures, and while Guardians does its fair share of sequel-teasing in the scenes just before this one, the notion of closing the movie on a silly-cute throwaway moment between two supporting characters — neither of whom even speaks in the scene — is exactly why this movie works so well. By the end of the movie, you really like these characters; at the end of the Dancing Baby Groot scene, you realize you loved them all along.

This, then, is the clear choice for Best Part of Guardians of the Galaxy, but there was an abundance of runners-up! Here are just a couple of them, in no particular order (but feel free to nominate one of your own):

“Who put the sticks up their butts?” Probably Zoe Saldana’s best-delivered line, n’est-ce pas?

Glenn Close’s wig. Rarely has a $170 million sci-fi movie directed by a straight man included something this campy.

The opening song, “I’m Not in Love.” The classic-rock soundtrack to this film is pitch-perfect, but it’s the very first tune that truly sets the tone: It’s as ethereal and surprisingly yearning as the movie we’re about to see.

The realization that Rocket didn’t need that prosthetic leg.

Chris Pratt’s expression in the third act when a baddie finally calls him by his preferred nickname, Star-Lord. Of all the comedic runners threaded through this film, this is the one with the biggest (yet breeziest) payoff.

The split second near the end of the film when Star-Lord sees a vision of his mother reaching out to him. How rare is it to see an action movie that fills its third act not simply with bigger and bolder action beats, but escalating, emotional character moments, too?

The characters actually like each other. The Guardians don’t get along at first, but over time, they’re willing to put their lives on the line for one another, and it’s a genuinely moving thing when Star-Lord gives the dying Gamora his helmet or Groot protects the party with a self-sacrificing embrace during the spaceship’s crash-landing. It all comes to a head in the final battle, where Star-Lord’s fellow Guardians link hands with him in an effort to shoulder the ravaging power of the Infinity Stone, then use that marshaled force against the evil Ronan: They literally defeat the bad guy using friendship. That’s such a gloriously uncynical idea, and to make it the cornerstone of a massive franchise-starter populated by sarcastic degenerates is unexpected and affecting. So many comic-book movies focus on a lone hero who’s forced by grim fate to go it alone. Guardians of the Galaxy realizes that you only get by with a little help from your friends.

The Best Part of Guardians of the Galaxy Is …