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The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 172: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of pop culture, including Batman: The Animated Series, Steven Universe, the MCU, and Doom Patrol. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight and more!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 172 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) is a fun romp through space, set to a banging soundtrack. The team is an off-beat group of space vigilantes; a band of outsiders, outcasts, and outlaws. As we get to know them, it becomes clear that they come from broken origins. Star-Lord was kidnapped as a young child by a group of space scavengers; Drax lost his whole family to the murderer, Ronan the Accuser; Gamora is the daughter of the formidable and cold-hearted villain, Thanos; Rocket is the result of a torturous lab experiment; and Groot is a giant tree limited to three words in his vocabulary. There is nothing overtly “super” about these heroes–if anything, they are underachievers, under-performers, and too self-absorbed to have friends. But their deficits are characterized as features they learn to live with.

We discuss why the Guardians struggle to build and keep positive relationships. When describing those deficits, Drea explains the need for better interpersonal effectiveness, the skills that help us get along. Interpersonal effectiveness skills include the ability to express needs and wants, attend to others, communicate clearly, and preserve our self-respect. Of course, each character happens to have emotional elements that are helpful to the group–they are surprisingly compassionate, open to learning, and love to laugh at their situation. Guardians succeeds as a film because the resolution does not require each character to be cured or absolved of their emotional, cognitive, or communication deficits; but instead, helps us to see their ability to form family, connectedness, and bonding when it matters most.

Further Reading:

We Are Groot: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Celebrates Heroes with Authentic Psychological Deficits by Dr. Drea Letamendi (Comics Alliance)

How a Walkman Helps Make ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ an Awesome Psychological Experience by Dr. Ali Mattu



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