General Dolgov: This team you must assemble... is our only hope.
Major Larina: [smug] Perfect.
Guardians (Russian: Защитники, pronounced "Zashchitniki") is a 2017 Russian superhero film.
Russia is threatened by a villain named August Kuratov, who possesses a device that allows him to take control over any equipment he can see. The army is helpless against him, since he uses the device to turn Russian tanks, gunships, and walkers against them and is marching on Moscow with his army of clones, in order to take it over, followed by the rest of the world.
In response, a secret government organization called Patriot seeks out four superhumans, created during the Cold War, to stop Kuratov. The group of four represents some of the nationalities of the former Soviet Union. Ursus is a man capable of turning into a human/bear hybrid, the team's Heavy, using his claws and teeth to rip enemy soldiers apart and capable of wielding a heavy chaingun. Khan has Super Speed, mastery of various martial arts, and is a Knife Nut. Ler is an earth elemental, able to control the very rock around him, from forming gloves of stone with which to punch enemies to shifting mountains. Xenia is extremely flexible, can turn invisible, isn't affected by extreme temperatures, can spend long periods of time without air. Patriot provides Ler, Khan, and Xenia with special gear that enhances their existing abilities, while Ursus gets the largest gatling gun they have.
Guardians provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Khan's blades are capable of cutting military vehicles in half. While at timeshim it can be justified as being backed by the combination of his Super Strength and Super Speed, it doesn't justify the instance when he is slicing up massive industrial metal pipes in half while swinging on a cable.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several, giving all the Guardians time to talk about themselves in lieu of being introduced in their own movies.
- Alien Blood: Kuratov's clone army Mooks bleed gray/white liquid instead of red.
- All Asians Know Kung Fu: Khan, the most Asian-looking one of the group, uses the most kung fu on top of his actual powers.
- All Part of the Show: Xenia's been making a living by using her powers as a performance artist.
- Ambiguously Human: Kuratov's clone army; they have the basic shape of a human being, but they're never shown with their faces exposed, have visible cybernetic components on their limbs, and possess Alien Blood.
- Amnesiac Hero: Xenia can't remember the Guardians' original adventures.
- Amplifier Artifact: Module-2 would increase Kuratov's technopath power to let him control all the world's satellites.
- Big Bad: August Kuratov, a Mad Scientist, who has invented a device that can take control over any piece of equipment in the vicinity, making conventional mechanized warfare useless against him. He has also created an army of clones for his goal of world domination.
- Bilingual Bonus
- Ler's name means mountain in Armenian. Considering that he's from the ex-Soviet nation of Armenia and also has an Armenian Eternity symbol on his chest armour, it's fitting.
- Ursus's name is very similar to the proto-Slavic word for "bear" prior to "medved" (people believed that saying "arkos" would summon a bear, so they came up with a new name that roughly means "one who knows/eats honey").
- Bridge Bunnies: Patriot has the required harem of attractive console operators.
- Chain Pain: Patriot equips Ler with a custom chain-whip, using rocks tethered together by electricity to allow his power to interact with it.
- Combination Attack: The Energy Transference technique; a Kamehame Hadoken that levels Kuratov's antenna array and half a dozen surrounding buildings in a single shot.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: There were two poorly received prequel comics called Guardians: The Broken Curtain and Guardians: A Comic of the New Superhero Universe.
- Cool Sword: Khan carries two curved swords, which appear to be Absurdly Sharp Blades (a promo shows him slicing through an SUV like butter). The official website insists that they're a double-bladed glaive (even though a glaive is supposed to be a polearm). For the majority of the movie — and all of the promo trailers — Khan is seen using his weapon as a pair of swords. However, the swords can be slotted together pommel-to-pommel to create the glaive the website mentions, with the curves of each blade facing opposite directions.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Khan's desert fight with a bunch of heavily-armed Mooks ends with all of them dead and not a scratch on him.
- At their first encounter the Guardians are swiftly trashed by Kuratov and his mooks.
- In the final battle, the now augmented Guardians defeat the mooks, but are once again easily beaten by Kuratov.
- Cyborg: The Big Bad is shown with metal and electronic parts on some parts of his body, augmenting his physical strength and allowing him to control technology at a distance.
- Dark and Troubled Past: All the Guardians have one. Khan only agreed to be tested so he could best his brother, who always beat him in everything, only to kill him by accident.
- Deflector Shield: The Big Bad is shown activating one to destroy incoming missiles.
- Deus ex Machina: Just when it looks like Kuratov is about to control all of the world's technology, the Guardians are told by Larina at the last minute of a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that can defeat him. This attack easily takes down Kuratov and all of his equipment.
- Diagonal Cut: During Khan's fight in the desert, his first strike is a Super Speed dash through an SUV that cleaves it (and the guy sitting in the middle of the back seat) in half. The SUV keeps driving for a few seconds before the two halves collapse.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Ler has power over the very earth around him. He can move mountains, stop avalanches, and make himself huge gloves of stone to punch enemies with.
- Faceless Goons: The clone army, presumably to avoid having to show them with Kuratov's face.
- Force-Field Door: Kuratov imprisons three of the heroes in his lair behind a magnetic forcefield. When Major Larina comes to free them, she just shoots the generator that's on the outside to shut it off.
- Forgot About Her Powers: Xenia mentions that she can control her body temperature and is not affected by extreme heat or cold. In the scene where the Guardians enter Kuratov's lair, Kuratov's clones notice her using thermal vision, and Xenia ends up being frozen after the clones shoot at the pipes above her.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Kuratov has no development besides "using his creations to prove that he is a genius" in his domination plans.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted. Major Larina is a dab hand with pistols, which is way more firepower than Xenia ever handles; while Ursus, the one-man smashing machine, does enough shooting for the lot of them.
- Hong Kong Dub: A weird case since this also applies to the original Russian soundtrack. The dialogue doesn't appear to match the actors' lips most of the time.
- Invisibility: Xenia can turn invisible. Unlike most examples of the power, not only does her invisibility not harmed by being underwater, it's actually helped.
- Kamehame Hadoken: The Guardians can do this when they combine their powers and it can level skyscrapers.
- Ms. Fanservice: Given the conspicuous or lingering shots on Xenia and Major Aleksandrovna from particular angles, it's clear they are here also for this.
- Mole in Charge: General Dolgov, who sent Major Larina to find the Guardians is the very person who sold them out.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Khan's eyes turn white as he's speeding up. They return to their normal color afterwards.
- Neck Lift: Kuratov ends the life of General Dolgov through lifting him by the neck one-handed.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: The Guardians are told at the last minute that they can transfer all of their energy into one member and have him shoot an energy blast that can level skyscrapers, but at the risk of all of them dying.
- One-Winged Angel: Turns out Ursus has a final form — a regular, if rather oversized bear.
- Plot Armor: Kuratov is impervious to anything the Guardians can throw at him, even with their upgrades, and everything in the plot is pretty much tailored towards him until he gets taken down with a combined energy blast from the Guardians.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: General Dolgov is revealed to be the one who set up the Guardians, in the same scene he dies in.
- Rule of Cool: We have a werebear with a gatling gun who can turn in a bear with an automated gatling turret on his back, a super-fast martial artist dual-wielding half-circle super-swords, a guy who can create armor made of stone and wield an electro-stony whip which turn into a shield, a hot blond invisible girl who can use herself as a short-circuit and another hot blond team leader who stands around in comic-book poses. Clearly, this trope is one of the core concepts of the movie.
- Sequel Hook:
- The final lines.Major Larina: What if we need you back?
Ursus: Why would you need us back?
Major Larina: We just found another Guardian.
- And in The Stinger two mooks try to kidnap Larina; she escapes and forces them to reveal who sent them, someone called Ferrum.
- The final lines.
- Shout-Out: Kuratov is very clearly inspired by Bane. He even breaks Ler's back in a similar fashion to Bane breaking Batman's back.
- Show, Don't Tell: Apparently not a thing in this movie. Characters' backstories and powers and plot points are explained in lengthy monologues with very little shown that connects to them.
- Soviet Superscience: The original project that created the four superhumans. A teaser trailer shows the four being experimented on by scientists before their bodies are mutated.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Due to the movie being in Russian — and how the English subtitles elect to spell the characters' names when transliterating them out of the Cyrillic — confusion can arise with half of the titular team: Ksenia/Xenia and Arsus/Ursus. The DVD sold in the UK, for instance, uses the former spellings in the subtitling. Ler and Khan make it through the process unscathed.
- Spider Tank: Several are shown in Kuratov's army. They're agile enough to dodge enemy fire and can shoot back with machine guns and guided missiles.
- Starter Equipment: The Guardians do get a gear upgrade. But only after they're pummeled (Khan and Ler, but especially the latter), frozen (Xenia) and caught in a net (Ursus) by Kuratov's army before being captured during their first fight as a reunited team.
- The Stinger: There's a fifth Guardian out there. It's a Tyke Bomb. And it's on the loose.
- Super Speed: Khan's ability. His eyes turn white when it's active. A very deadly combination with his skills as a Knife Nut.
- Super Team: The titular Guardians, originally created during the Cold War and disbanded after the dissolution of the USSR. Now Patriot needs them again to stop the Big Bad.
- Technopath: Kuratov's personal army comprises of anything mechanical, from gas-driven trucks to state-of-the-art spider tanks.
- That Man Is Dead: Ler's full/real name is Lernik. After Major Larina refers to him as such during her trip to recruit him, he quietly protests, telling her "that man died a long time ago". At his request, she — as well as everyone else — calls him Ler from then on.
- Tie-In Novel: There was a book of short stories called Guardians: The Reflection.
- The Turret Master: Beyond Kuratov's technopathy that effectively turns any motorised vehicle with a gun into a mobile turret, this is a characteristic of Ursus' minigun. Whenever it detects his shift into "full Bear Mode", the minigun engages a special protocol that allows it to unfurl automatically. In this mode, it automatically tracks and fires at whatever Ursus' rage is focused on at the time.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: During the final battle, Ler and Xenia take an elevator to reach the top of the tower and Kuratov's machine — cue Ursus squeezing in between them without reverting to human form first.
- Unfriendly Fire: During the fight in the desert, one of the Mooks panics during Khan's Super Speed rampage and starts trying to hit the speedster with his truck-mounted machine gun, only to accidentally shoot up his buddies the other pickup truck. As he stops in shock, Khan takes care of him too.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Ursus can turn into a werebear, gaining enormous strength and agility (bears are faster than most people think), as well as endurance. He can easily lift and shoot a heavy chaingun, but he usually prefers to use his claws and teeth to rip enemies apart.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Only Ler bemoans the side-effects of the experimentation that granted him and the other Guardians superpowers. Due to his immortality, he had to watch as his wife and two further generations (children and grandchildren) of his family grew up and died of old age before Larina came to recruit him.