In early 2017, Russia was getting its own Avengers. The ambitious Sarik Andreasyan directed a movie about a bunch of super powered folks who had their origins in Cold War USSR. It’s an interesting origin story: each region of Russia had a superperson to protect the country from supernatural threats. Now, their creator has gone rogue, and once again the Guardians (or Zashchitniki in Russian) have to assemble! “The US no longer has a monopoly on big budget superhero films,” declared the optimistic Hollywood Reporter.
Despite having a roster that includes a ninja-looking dude with two sickles and a machine-gun toting wearbear who can choose to go either part-bear or full-bear, Guardians bombed at the box office. It started with a promising opening weekend (which was on a major Russian patriotic holiday). However, the movie garnered hugely negative reviews from the Russian press. Attendance saw a 90% drop in the second week, and another 90% drop after that. The production company behind the movie filed bankruptcy in July of the same year.
Can you blame Russian audiences, though? I mean, look at this trailer. You can almost feel the malaise:
Audiences were like, “Nah. We’ll see what that delightful Johnny Depp is up to in that new Pirates movie.” Because, seriously, that Pirates of The Caribbean sequel you already forgot about was Russia’s top grossing film of 2017. Guardians is way down at #58. But, hey… at least it beat the Lego Batman Movie.
Clearly they needed to establish the Bear-man (named Ursus) in his own movies before going straight to the team up. Or… just do bear-man movies. Clearly Ursus is the only character anyone cared about. Maybe have him team up with a drunk pirate or something?
Wait, is that guy on the left wearing a ski parka with a tiny fan in the center? Oof.