I’ve thought for a while that “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a Xanatos Gambit for Marvel Studios. In short, a Xanatos Gambit is a situation where all plausible outcomes benefit the planner; whether “Guardians of the Galaxy” (GotG) succeeds or flops, Marvel Studios is covered.
- If “GotG” flops (or even just underperforms), it’s an easy dodge for Marvel Studios because it isn’t the kind of comic book film they usually do. It was too far-out-there, too different. Everybody knew that, but they took the risk anyway. It can be called a labour of love, something quirky, something that will be a cult classic in a few years. “GotG” can show that Marvel Studios is willing to try new things, even if the audience isn’t there for it. Things will return to normal for the next Marvel film – one that everyone can be comfortable with. Disney can take some of the learnings from the failure of “GotG” and put it forward towards the next Star Wars films.
- If “GotG” succeeds, then Marvel Studios can do no wrong. They’ve got the golden touch that works even out of their normal genre. It helps excite the audience for Disney’s Star Wars films (and Disney can learn from its successes too). Things can keep looking ever brighter for the next crop of Marvel movies. They might even consider a female superhero getting their own film! … in time, of course – no point rushing those things.
Although I’m sure that Marvel Studios will prefer “GotG” to be a runaway hit, they’ve got their bases covered if it isn’t. Unlike the next Avengers-linked film – if the next Captain America / Thor / Avengers et al film doesn’t perform so well, Marvel Studios has a lot fewer places to hide compared to this movie.