|The NHL's Guardian Project|
What the NHL and GME (Guardian Media Entertainment) want to make clear is that this project/idea has been in the works for a long time and they plan to have it around for a long time. Imagine this: a weekly Saturday cartoon series, an interactive Facebook game, and of course merchandising. This called "branding". Get the name and logo ingrained in the young minds out there and they will prove to be more familiar (and thus more interested and loyal) later on.
"Loyalties created as kids do stay with us for life." Believes Adam Baratta, chief creative officer for GME. And he's exactly right. He was raised in Philadelphia but has lived in Los Angeles for most of his adult life - yet he is a Flyers/Eagles fan through and through. He didn't need to cite that example, because we all have a friend who loves a team from when they were young, even though they now live hundreds of miles away.
I won't get into the NFL origins of the Project, as this was covered nicely over at Puck Daddy. In fact, I tried to steer clear of the questions asked by the mainstream and delve into things from a perspective of a 10 year old. What's the potential of a weekly cartoon show?
"A show like this, with Stan Lee's name on it, sells itself." Baratta assures me. GME's interest lies more in finding a network - not necessarily NBC - who is open to giving all 30 Guardians, plus the main character Mike Mason, equal play. It's tough to convince a network that a 30 minute show can develop interest in 31 characters (not to mention villains, other citizen characters, etc). But the thinking is, each week would feature five Guardians in the plot. The Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and other cable networks are also in play. Stan Lee's name is key, of course. His legacy as the greatest superhero creator in history carries a lot of weight. "We could sell the series today."
Baratta really encourages everyone and their kids to tune into the show on January 30th at the All-Star Game (of course), saying it will be "a show that will answer a ton of questions about this project". There will be a threat to the Game itself, and will be up to Mike Mason and the 30 heroes to save the day. More in-depth backgrounds will be revealed and the powers will be seen in action.
The initiative is a good one. Picture sitting with your 12-year-old son on the couch watching the game. Well, you're watching the game. He's texting his friends or playing on Facebook. Now picture the same situation, but the Facebook game he is playing is the Guardian 30 - and when his (and your) team scores you both cheer: you, because your team scored and he because his character gets bonus powers. The fortunes of the team on the ice - live - tie in with the fortunes of his game play. Before you know it, your son is paying more and more attention to the NHL game and less attention to the Facebook one. That's just one thing on the horizon.
"The next generation of fan is not being cultivated." Opines Baratta. Again he is bang on. What are the NFL, MLB and NBA doing to bring in the younger generation? Just hoping that the older generation brings them in, because that's how it has always been done. But other generations have not had to compete with the wireless world and gaming world the way it is today. The NHL is wise to break new ground with this. It sure beats status quo.
On with the rest of the Guardians:
Attributes: Obviously he controls the elements
Comparables: The look is fairly unique, though I've seen the flowing red hair before, as well as the tornado half-body. Powers obviously similar to Storm and other element-controling heroes.
Story: An intelligent entrepreneur who favors honor, loyalty and friendship. Betrayal is the ultimate wrong.
Attributes: Wears body armor, can control the wind
Comparables: Again, the look is unique. Granted, heroes have been given wings plenty of times, and the red armor has been used often. But you'd be reaching if you can dig up any remotely popular hero from the archives and say that the look matches.
Story: He's happy-go-lucky, has an open mind, fun to be around. No back story revealed yet.
Attributes: Controls the elements of ice and rock; freezes what he touches; wears a titanium suit; if the conditions allow for it, he can create an avalanche.
Comparables: Captain Planet - not the most popular character ever created, but probably the closest likeness. Powers are similar to Iceman, but controlling rocks is a slant on that.
Story: A gambler. A risk-taker. He has a problem with authority. He's probably the bad-ass of the Guarndians.
The Blue Jacket
Attributes: Encased in a metal suit of armor, has a devastating array of weaponry, can communicate with long-dead Civil War Generals, can cocoon his victim with astral plasma (that appears as the state flag of Ohio) which temporarily suspends the victim in time.
Comparables: Optimus Prime of Transformers fame. A bit of Iron Man, too.
Story: He has a great military mind and relies on his intelligence in battle more than his weaponry, despite what you see in the picture.
Attributes: Rides the solar wind, can manipulate magnetic tension fields. Harnesses energy to create a weapon he calls a "solar flare"
Comparables: Reminds me of Dr. Octopus (color scheme), Magneto (powers), Vision
Story: A "Celestial Enforcer", implying that he is not of this world. Made up mostly of Hydrogen and Helium gasses. Confident to the point of cocky, he is DobberHockey's kind of hero. Catchphrase: "There's a new Sheriff in town."
The Red Wing
Attributes: Superhuman tracking abilities (like the Bruin), can telekinetically manipulate anything mechanical, aerodynamic.
Comparables: A bit of the later version of Angel, a bit of any Transformer that stemmed from a jet. But mostly quite a unique character.
Story: He is meticulous and thoughtful, but has trouble improvising if the plan goes awry.
Attributes: 10-foot-5, 950 pounds of muscle, has the strength to blast through concrete walls, can blast torrents of energized oil
Comparables: Juggernaut is the obvious one. Can't think of anyone with oil-shooting powers though.
Story: He's gritty and tough, loves the blue-collar workers. He loves pushing up his sleeves and working with his hands. He also loves to explore the Canadian northern wilderness.
Attributes: Half-man/half-panther; extremely agile; razor-sharp gold-tipped claws that can rip through six inches of metal; night vision; can jump to great heights/distances; can blend in with surroundings to near invisibility; controls the element of shadow/dark matter.
Comparables: Almost exactly like the Black Panther, one of the cooler characters of the Marvel universe. Then again, how would YOU make the "Panther"? A swan head and the body of a seahorse?
Story: The Peter Pan syndrome. Immature, happy-go-lucky, no responsibilities...
Attributes: Strong, agile and skilled with the sword. His shield can create a force field around him and his sword can "cause earthquakes".
Comparables: The Black Knight all the way
Story: He wants to lead the Guardians into battle. He's the guy who charges into the fray, sword swinging and shield raised. In life, he is a celebrity and a big star of stage and film, and seems to enjoy that side of his life more than the superhero side.
Attributes: Changes into "wild" form and when he does so he gains his superhero powers, but his "wild" form is too volatile and unpredictable; razor-sharp claws that can tunnel through the earth's crust quickly; hands have celestial incinerators.
Comparable: wolves are done often in comic books, but generally as the bad guy. Could compare to Beast, Sasquatch, Leo (of Zodiac fame). But for the most part quite unique. Pat on the back for drawing up unique characters, because as I said before - everything has been done and options for each character are limited by their name/logo.
Story: An intellectual - extremely brilliant problem solver. He chains himself up at night to protect others from his "volatile side".
Attributes: Jets attached to boots to aid flight or road travel. Also skate blades and in-line skates that can pop out as needed for travel over ice or roads. His can enhance the powers of the Guardians around him, and he can also absorb and copy the powers of the other Guardians as needed.
Comparable: Both Iron Man and Cobra Commander have been bandied about. Power absorbtion is Rogue's power and power augmentation (enhancing) is Ando's power from the show "Heroes". See, I told you all powers have been done before. So asking for something completely unique is impossible.
Story: He is a ladies' man who is culturally refined and is successful at everything he undertakes. Very independent, he does his own thing and it's up to others to follow. Or not. Very well respected by citizens and heroes alike.