The marketing strategy for Guardians of the Galaxy–the first movie from Marvel Studios to feature all-new characters since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger–has been a bold one to this point: Essentially, Marvel is aware that a team whose most recognizable character is named “Star-Lord” and played by the chubby guy from a low-rated cult NBC sitcom, and which includes a talking superhero raccoon, is not exactly The Avengers.
The trailers to this point have been built around the fact that nobody really knows who these guys are (but that everybody likes “Hooked on a Feeling”). When Chris Pratt announces that he’s Star-Lord, and Djimon Hounsou turns to the camera and says, “Who?,” the audience knows they’re right where they’re supposed to be.
Still, you can’t base all of the marketing of a $150 million summer blockbuster on a global appetite for sarcasm, and the new international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy makes it clear: This isn’t a parody of space opera/superhero movies, this is a totally new version of them. Instead of winking at the audience, the new two-minute spot spends its time telling us we’re going to want to care about these guys–and that we didn’t know who Han Solo, Captain Kirk, Mal Reynolds, or any other beloved spaceship captains we’ve obsessed over for years were at first, either.
To that end, the new look at Guardians gives audiences a view of big space battles and high-stakes action, which have proven themselves to be more consistent draws than B.J. Thomas songs and gags about how nobody knows who the heck these guys are. Ultimately, this is the biggest risk Marvel has taken to date (even lesser-known characters like Thor and Iron Man had some sort of built-in audience for their first outings) so it’s probably good news that the strategy for finding an audience includes more than just sarcasm–though that talking superhero raccoon is still here, too.