(gotg spoilers ahoy)
Ragtag bands of losers (uh I mean people who have lost stuff) forming families is one of my favorite kinds of story. The running theme of “I didn’t ask to be made” (especially with Rocket and Gamora), the soundtrack which (like most of the movie) made fun of itself without making itself not matter, and of course Groot made this movie a delight and a surprise for me. I’m a fan. Go Guardians.
But why wasn’t this Gamora’s movie?
I mean, because it was.The archnemeses are hers—people she has betrayed, has lost, people she will stand against. (What I wouldn’t give for more discussion of Gamora and Nebula’s relationship, my gosh). The moral choices of the movie are Gamora’s; the cause, the mission—these are all decisions that she made first, and the other four fall into her crusade.
But the movie is framed as Peter Quill’s. And as much as I adored Starlord, let’s reframe that.
Give us an opening scene of a little green girl in a burning city. Just a moment. Just show us where she comes from—blood and fire, a dark shadow telling her not to cry because they were going to be family now. Just a glimpse of this tear-stained child and the hard fury in her face that lets us know that she is never going to go down easy.
Frame her hunched body in the shot and then cut to little Peter, hunched in the hospital with his music. Now we’ve made them parallels, these two lost orphans, taken in by fathers who teach them to be criminals, who give them the tools they will use to be heroes.
Give us this: Drax calls her a murderer, not a whore. One of these is true and untrue in striking, relevant, scarring ways. One of them is useless and ugly. Call her a killer. Then, when Gamora shuts him down it’s not her knocking down an unnecessary slur, it’s a woman with blood on her hands reclaiming her self from Thanos’s sins.
And at the end of the movie? When she leans on Quill’s chair and says they’ll follow his lead? How about this: he leans on her chair and says they’ll follow hers.
Because this is a story about revalidating the lost, the guilty, the overlooked people who never asked to be made this way. Rocket is not a rodent. And Gamora, of all of them, is the one whose drive and morality pushed this story to its end. She is the one who has earned this trust, who wrenched herself from Thanos’s clutches at the risk of her very existence, who defied enemy warlords and murderous sisters and death himself to save lives.
Quill is the one who made them a family, but Gamora made them heroes.
Let’s make Quill’s final emotional triumph that moment on the ship, when he at long last opens his mother’s gift (paralleling the moment with the glowy purple cloud thing, when he finally took her hand). He is accepting all of himself, the things he has lost, and found, and he is moving on.
And let’s make Gamora’s this: the stolen daughter who stole herself back, who spent all her adult life subject to other people’s ordered deaths— she looks around at this new family, who trust her not for her lethal hands but for the choices she makes.
“What next? Something good or something bad?”
“How about a little bit of both?” she says, because that’s what they are, all of them, and maybe that’s okay.