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Is 'Guardians of the Galaxy' really the most deadly film of all time?

Tom Huddleston

For reasons that remain obscure, operatic insurance comparison site Go Compare this week set out to discover which movies contain the highest on-screen body count. Surveying the biggest Hollywood movies released since the birth of cinema, their analysts discovered that the deadliest film of all time is 2014's Marvel sci-fi adventure 'Guardians of the Galaxy', thanks to a scene towards the end when 80,000 soldiers get unceremoniously wiped out. The film's director James Gunn wasn't exactly thrilled, taking to Twitter to express his misgivings:

According to Go Compare, 'Guardians' was far, far deadlier than any other movie in history, with almost 75,000 more deaths than its closest rival. Here's the full top ten. For those with shorter memories, 'The Sum of All Fears' is the one where Ben Affleck fails to stop a nuclear bomb in a sports stadium, and 'Dracula Untold' was the near-unwatchable historical vampire flick starring Luke Evans.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 83,871 on-screen deaths
2. Dracula Untold (2014) – 5,687
3. The Sum of All fears (2002) – 2,922
4. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) - 2,798
5. 300: Rise of An Empire (2014) – 2,234
6. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) – 1,741
7. The Matrix Revolutions (2003) – 1,647
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) – 1,417
9. Braveheart (1995) – 1,297 
10. The Avengers (2012) – 1,019

But frankly, we have a bone to pick with Go Compare's results. Take, for example, the original 1977 'Star Wars', in which an entire planet is destroyed with the loss of, according to Obi-Wan Kenobi, 'millions of souls' (not to mention 'The Force Awakens' in which four planets get frazzled simultaneously). It doesn't happen off-screen – does it not count because we can't see the specific individuals as they burn to cinders? But if that's the case, how does 'The Sum of All Fears' qualify – we don't see those individuals die either, just a big black mushroom cloud over Baltimore. And where were disaster movies like 'Independence Day' or '2012', in which entire cities get flattened?

One result of the survey can't be argued with however – movies are definitely getting deadlier. To be fair, it probably has more to do with the rise of CGI than increased bloodthirstiness among the film-going population: those religious epics in the 1950s and '60s often featured entire armies getting massacred, drowned or otherwise suffering the wrath of God, but the filmmakers could only afford to put a limited number of bodies on screen. Computer technology allows essentially unlimited body counts – and movie audiences' appetite for destruction shows no signs of waning.

Discover if the sequel is even more deadly when 'Guardians of the Galaxy 2' opens on April 28 2017.

Keep up with news and reviews of all the latest, bloodiest movies at Time Out Film.

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