Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace
Infinity Stone found: The Power Stone
With Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel proved that their Cinematic Universe had room for B-level heroes. Because keep it real: You expect epic drama from Captain America and Iron Man, but who really thought that a ragtag bunch of space characters could hang with the all-stars? And who knew that superheroes sounded best backed by an '80s-tinged soundtrack?
Much of the props for this film comes down to Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Star-Lord, one of the best smart-ass everyman heroes in comic lore. Pratt was perfect, because while the Guardians’ target demo might be more attracted to the movie's many multi-hued space creatures (including a tree that could move and a talking raccoon), Pratt showed that he could rise above that and be leading man material. And sure, you could argue that Marvel could put their stamp on any drivel at this point and fans would eat it up, but director James Gunn found a way to make lesser-known characters fresh while playing within the massive sandbox that is the MCU. What started out as a way to introduce space travel into the universe turned into a certified banger, and one of the greatest films in this collection to date. —khal