Who among us doesn’t like to drop the f-bomb into casual conversation? I get the sense someone in the writers room of Guardians of the Galaxy does, but probably didn’t have the greenlight by Marvel and Square Enix to let Star-Lord and friends drop this particular curse word. After all, this game is rated T for Teen, and somewhere in the grand scheme of the English language we decided “fuck” was on a higher tier of “bad” curse words — one that will elevate a Teen rating to a Mature one. PG-13 movies can only say “fuck” once before it’s deemed too much for anyone under the age of 17 without parental supervision and given an R rating. So the writers over at Marvel and subsequently game developer Eidos-Montreal found a way to say “fuck” without actually saying “fuck.” It’s a reference to an alien species, but is also widely used as profanity. Literally any time the word could be used in casual conversation, it’s replaced by the word “flark,” and while I applaud the studio for using this workaround, it also just illustrates how silly it is that we determined “fuck” is somehow worse than “hell” or “damn” or even “shit.”
Googling the term is interesting because flark apparently also refers to “a depression or hollow within a bog,” which seems specific enough that I don’t think Peter Quill and the rest of his merry band of misfits are going to encounter it and acknowledge “oh, that fake curse word we’ve been using is actually this natural phenomenon.” There are some other definitions, some that acknowledge the word is a substitute for “fuck,” but there are also some, er, less savory and NSFW definitions we won’t get into here. You’re free to look into it yourself, though. I’m not your dad. However, beyond that, the SEO for “flark” is covered up by Guardians of the Galaxy itself, thanks to a trailer that uses it in its title.
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As a stand-in for “fuck,” “flark” is used so frequently in Guardians of the Galaxy that it both draws attention to how natural a lot of the dialogue is (get a group of adults who have surpassed the pre-teen phase of “I just learned a bad word and will use it in every sentence,” and you’ll find that swearing still occurs just about every other sentence) and how unnatural it is that no one is just dropping the f-bomb. “Flark” leaves the lips of Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord almost as frequently as the names of any of their friends, and it’s funny how much more aware I am of it than I would have been if the roguish, space-faring superheroes were simply swearing like Earth-born Terrans. Especially when, as far as I’ve seen in a few chapters of playing, none of the other curse words we know on Earth are being shot out of Peter’s translator any other way.
Swearing is kind of a meme in Marvel’s grander catalog thanks to Chris Evans’ Captain America scolding his teammates for being a bunch of potty mouths in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but in space, no one can hear you scream. So it stands to reason that Steve Rogers can’t hear Rocket loudly proclaim “fuck” when he stubs his toe on the Milano or when Star-Lord pisses him off.
So let the Guardians of the Galaxy say “fuck,” Marvel. The team’s been through enough. They’ve earned it.