Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Marvel Studios continue their trend of casting incredibly well with interesting faces. Chris Pratt imprints his mark on the legendary Starlord (funny recurring gag is his ego being bigger than people's recognition of him) and is charming, funny and likeable (though this causes a slight problem I will get to shortly).
The movie itself is also very much in the Marvel brand, there is a macguffin to chase, structurally it feels a touch too similar to the others (big flying things crash through buildings in the final act a lot in these) and it has a general lightness of tone that doesn't ignore drama but will err towards the joke (something i very approve of).
Guardians does a great job of justifying why this lesser known comic property deserves a franchise and even how each of the characters could hold their own movie with the exception of the antagonist, played finely by Lee Pace, who feels completely interchangeable with the villain of Thor 2, and is given only lipservice to any depth of character. Drax is a particular stand out, given a hoary old 'alien' cliche of not understanding metaphor but Bautista exhibits great timing and delivery.
Far more troubling is some of the attitudes towards women. The arc for Starlord is that he starts off as kind of a bastard, womanizing, betraying his friends, generally being selfish before finding a group of misfits he can fit with. But the film never really weighs up the misogynist aspects as something to be that bothered by and in one scene has (a different character) call the main female a whore for almost exactly no reason. That female character, Gamorra, is also let down by the films refusal to give her much of an arc (though this is tied to some of the issues of it being a franchise and story lines are set up to be played with later).
That said there is much to like here, the aforementioned familiar climax is livened by a great gag scored to one of the many cool songs that feature on the soundtrack. It is funnier than most comedies that come out and manages some exciting action sequences (something Marvel Studios have been getting much better at from Avengers on).