Guardians of the Galaxy was a monster hit. The 2014 Marvel-Disney movie had the biggest August box-office opening of all time — earning $94.3M domestically on opening weekend and grossing $773.3M worldwide. But Guardians of the Galaxy merits another title that's not so great: It's also the deadliest movie of all time. There are a staggering 83,871 on-screen deaths in the film, according to a report by GoCompare on the deadliest films in history. The majority of those deaths happen during the film's finale, when approximately 80,000 Nova Corps pilots are killed in battle. Naturally, there's some skepticism about the body count, but GoCompare crunched the numbers based on an examination of 653 films that had more than 50 on-screen deaths. The tally includes implied deaths, while animals or robots were only counted when they were played or voiced by a human. If you're interested in learning more about the full methodology (and just what is considered a "kill" or an "implied" death), you can read the study here.
When all was said and done, Guardians was by far the deadliest film. For comparison, the second deadliest movie was Gary Shore’s Dracula Untold (2014), with 5,687 deaths. That was followed by The Sum of All Fears (2002) with 2,922 deaths. The top ten list of deadliest films also included three Lord of the Rings films and The Avengers. It's worth noting that Guardians was largely marketed to young viewers, thanks to its PG-13 rating. On Tuesday, the film's director, James Gunn, expressed his conflicted feelings about the news. "So I guess #GotG is now the deadliest film in movie history. By, like, a lot. Um, yay?" he tweeted along with a link to a story from The Guardian.
He also noted, in a follow-up tweet, that the GoCompare report is only counting on-screen deaths — so that means that a movie like Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) won't be on the list despite the implied deaths of every living being on the planet of Alderaan. Over-the-top violence in movies is nothing new — and Guardians of the Galaxy isn't the only or first movie to depict a massive number of people dying on screen. But it's important to have a bit of perspective here. Let's take a step back and really think about the fact that we're showing tens of thousands of people losing their lives, just to highlight the drama of a film's conclusion. Is it necessary? Is there another way to show how high the stakes have been raised for our heroes? It's a conversation worth having.