Two summers ago, Marvel Studios took the stage in Hall H for their panel at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International and officially announced their Phase 2 plans. The most shocking announcement, at the time, was the inclusion of a brand new super hero team property which was hardly known even to some of the most diehard Marvel comic book readers. Guardians of the Galaxy was coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2014.
Critics, and some fans, were confused by the risky film project announcement because it was one of the lesser known Marvel Intellectual Properties. Others, me included, were instantly curious since a talking raccoon-like alien and a tree-like alien were revealed as part of the Guardians team roster via concept art. Marvel was hot off the huge box office release of The Avengers and ready to boldly go where they have never been before... venturing into the space side of the MCU.
Fast-forward one year to summer 2013 and Guardians of the Galaxy began filming under the direction of James Gunn. Another risky choice by Marvel to helm such a risky project. What no one realized was that Marvel and Gunn knew exactly what they were doing.
Fast-forward again to today and Marvel and Gunn have shut up all those who criticized Guardians of the Galaxy by doing the one thing Marvel Studios knows how to do best... and that's deliver a high-quality mainstream film that makes a ton of box office cash. (Not to mention all the merchandise sales rolling in for all-things Rocket Raccoon and Groot.) Also, one year ago if you told almost anyone outside of the studio that Guardians of the Galaxy would become the No. 1 domestic film of 2014, you would have been pointed and laughed at.
But Guardians has done it. The film is now 2014's No. 1 domestic box office leader with $262 million, surpassing the previous No. 1 film. Marvel Studios' other 2014 release Captain America: The Winter Soldier which has brought in $259 million. Overall, in the worldwide box office, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is still way ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy — $714 million to $507 million — but there's hardly any competition for Marvel's space opera film in the coming weeks and it should remain No. 1 in the weekend box office raking in truckloads of cash-money.
Kudos to Marvel Studios for taking such a gamble on Guardians of the Galaxy and on Gunn. It paid off in a really paid way! Big risks usually net big rewards and this has been proven to be true once again. So big that Marvel is doubling down and has already green lit Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for July 2017.
Up next is Marvel's next risky, albeit more well-known, super hero film Ant-Man which is set to release in theaters on July 17, 2015. However, Ant-Man is much less of a risk after the huge success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
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[Editorial Note: All box office numbers are as of the date this post was published and were sourced from BoxOfficeMojo.com.]