How Does “Guardians of the Galaxy” Reflect the Stark Contrast Between the West and the Middle East?


Besides the humorous and turbulent relationship between the titular characters, Guardians of the Galaxy’s (2014) main plot focuses on the clash of civilizations between two opposing forces that have been at each other’s throats for centuries. On one side are the Nova Corp, an intergalactic military and police force, and on the other side are the Kree, a militaristic and technologically advanced alien race.

Despite the recent peace treaty between the two, Ronan (Lee Pace), the film’s chief antagonist and Kree fanatic, hopes to gain a powerful gem known as the Infinity Stone to wreck havoc on the Nova’s capital world and Zandar, whom he feels has wronged his people for generations. While Kree officials may not have a direct role in the villain’s actions, they show a lack of concern and even express sympathy for his evil ways, despite the Nova Corp’s pleas for their intervention.

The Nova Corp can be seen as representing of the United States, NATO or just Western democracy in general. The Kree seem highly reminiscent of the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, like the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, in reality, the West, particularly the U.S., sometimes relies on these repressive dictatorships to keep Islamic fundamentalism at bay. Examples include their alliances with the Saudi Arabian and Jordanian governments, both countries with archly conservative populations, resuming military aid to Egypt after Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi, and ironically, support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).

Ronan is an example of this violent extremism, which is prevalent in a region where terrorist groups like the Taliban (Afghanistan, Pakistan), Al-Qaeda (the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan) ISIS (Iraq, Syria), Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Houthis (Yemen) commit horrible acts. Yet, the film’s comparisons are overly simplified and reductive, since many of these real world governments and militias are strongly opposed to each other due to national interests and deep seeded religious feuds.

Guardians of the Galaxy concludes with Ronan’s defeat and the Infinity Stone safely in the hands of the Nova Corp. Now, are we expected to believe the notion that this supposedly righteous force will do the responsible thing with the gem? Or, should we question whether they would eventually use this weapon to maintain their now dominant and undisputed stance in the galaxy? Tee up the sequel.