This movie had no right to be this good, but Gunn deftly executed a brilliant vision, coupling beautiful art direction, a great sense of humor, and heartfelt emotional resonance with fantastic pacing and a strong cast.
The only reason this fine film doesn't get a 10 is because I think they're just warming up...
No Charlie 27, no Vance Astro, 5 minutes in I didn't care. Rocket Raccoon on the silver screen.
Modern graphix-based films are so good because they are reflecting quality-revolutions that have already happened on the page. This film is built on the '70s Marvel sci-fi upheaval, where hippies raised on John Carter of Mars, EC Comics, Star Trek, and the current New Wave of Science Fiction went into warp drive.
Jim Starlin responded to Jack Kirby's radical "New Gods" with his storied runs on "Captain Marvel" (1973) and "Warlock" (1975). In the former, he created Drax The Destroyer, and -as a reflection of Darkseid- the death-worshipping demigod Thanos. Starlin's work put the cosmic in macrocosmic, turning Marvel's outer space realms into a cohesive and surreal universe of its own. But also a deeper one as well as wider. With the masterful "Warlock" he created his "Stranger in a Strange Land," an intricate Christ meditation that inverts into a shocking finale. Almost as much as upon Jack Kirby, Marvel Films is building its celluloid universe on Jim Starlin.
To counter Warren's adult-themed magazines, Marvel had a series of more mature b/w mags in the mid-'70s. Steve Englehart created Star-Lord for "Marvel Premiere" (1976). He left the series behind for DC, and Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin renovated the stern character into a Heinlein space opera hero, in the lineage of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Adam Strange. The trio would soon change comics more profoundly with the mega-success of "The Uncanny X-Men" (1977).
Also in "Marvel Premiere," Bill Manto created a Moorcock-ian interstellar Odysseus called Wayfinder, who incidentally runs into Rocket Raccoon (1976). The name was a joke on The Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon." Mantlo later folded Wayfinder's quest into the origin of The Microverse in his fine series with Michael Golden, "The Micronauts" (1979).
Another excellent series in the SF revolution was "Killraven," revamped by Don McGregor and the elegant illustrator P. Craig Russell (1973). As well as Howard Chaykin's "Cody Starbuck" (1974) and "Monark Starstalker" (1976), which deeply impressed a director named George Lucas. And Sword-and-Sorcery basically thrives today because of the efforts of Roy Thomas. All these works are the median between Jack Kirby and "Metal Hurlant", and presage the SF explosion of Star Wars. And under all this work wafts the spirit of pulp, acid, and prog rock.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning revived many of these characters as the ad hoc group "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2008). The film may seem like a left-field winner, but it is the sum total of many great works that came before and stand the test.
Quality will always win, as long as it's given a chance to be seen.