So, it’s official! Marvel’s second film of 2014 will be The Guardians of the Galaxy. We here at FilmBuffOnline have already given you a primer on the Guardians here. Unfortunately, as the above concept art shows, that isn’t the version that will be in the film H(hey, it isn’t my fault! That was originally written before we knew Thanos was going to be the big bad guy! Blame Marvel for having more than one version!)
But don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the heroes shown above, the team’s origins in the comics, and what other characters you might see up on the big screen.
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 2) #1 (May 2008)
Created by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Comic Book History: After two, cosmic-scale disasters that threatened to destroy the entire universe, a band of interstellar adventurers decide to form a group that would be forever on alert in case a similar threat to all existence would arise. They named their team the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Skinny: The comic and the team spun out of Marvel’s two rather successful cosmic-themed Annihilation mini-series’ and followed Marvel’s long tradition of taking characters that have been out of the public eye–from forgotten supporting characters to lead characters that failed to catch on with the public–and gather them all on the same team. The title only lasted 25 issues (but was a pretty good read while it lasted), but the team’s reason for being makes it a logical choice for being the first line of defense against Thanos.
Real Name: Peter Quill
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #4 (Jan. 1976)
Created by: Steve Englehart and Steve Gan
Origin: Peter Quill was a NASA astronaut on a space station that was visited by a cosmic being called “The Master of the Sun.” The Master of the Sun intended to select one of the astronauts to become the Star-Lord, an intergalactic peace keeper. Peter Quill ended up being the man chosen for that honor.
Powers: Star-Lord’s suit gives him the power to survive in space and enhances his strength. He is a master strategist and excellent hand-to-hand combatant.
The Skinny: Star-Lord is the type of anti-hero that would make Han Solo blush. Eventually, another astronaut was chosen to become the Star-Lord, but Quill took the honor by force, shooting and presumably killing many people in the process. He eventually made amends forhis action, and became leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. NOTE: There have been two other men called Star-Lord in Marvel continuity, but this version is the one most likely to be the one to appear in the film.
Real Name: Arthur Douglas
First Appearance: Iron Man #55
Created by: Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin
Origin: Arthur Douglas is an Earthman who was killed when Thanos visited Earth in search of the Cosmic Cube (the comic book name for the film’s Tesseract). His spirit was saved by Thanos’ father Mentor and put into a warrior’s body. His one goal in his second life: kill Thanos.
Powers: His is a highly skilled warrior, with super-strength, super resilience, the ability to fly, and the ability to fire blast of energy from his hands, although the most recent incarnation of the character lost those last two powers.
The Skinny: Created in the very same issue that Thanos first appeared in, Drax has been linked with the villain throughout the years. And, much like the comic book Thanos, the comic book Drax has died and come back to life numerous times, usually with some changes to his power set and personality (once, he came back in a form that made the Hulk look like a Rhodes Scholar).
Real Name: Rocket Raccoon
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #7 (Summer 1976)
Created by: Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen
Origin: Rocket Raccoon hails from the planet Halfworld, a planet home to the mentally ill where wildlife are genetically altered to become anthropomorphic attentants to the sick. After all the lunatics on his homeworld were cured, Rocket became an interstellar adventurer.
Powers: Rocket has the abilities customarily found in Raccoons (heightened smell, agility, etc), but is also an excellent marksman, an above average strategist, and a capable leader.
The Skinny: Yes, this character is a raccoon, a walking, talking, gun-toting Raccoon. Certainly one of Marvel’s goofiest concepts, but once you get fact that this is an animal that typically overturns your trash cans at night, you’ll find a fairly interesting character. No, really. He’s even the deputy leader of the team.
Real Name: Gamora
First Appearance: Strange Tales #180 (June, 1975)
Created by: Jim Starlin
Origin: Gamora was the last survior of Zen Whoberi, an alien race that was slaughtered by their enemies. She was found by Thanos as an infant. Thanos adopted and trained her to be his personal assassin. Eventually, Gamora became known as the most dangerous woman in the universe, but soon realized that Thanos was a bigger threat than the people he sent her after.
Powers: Gamora has been trained as an assassin for her entire life. Therefore, she is an expert martial artist, skilled with all forms of weapons, and has inate super-human strength, speed, duribility and agility. She wields an enormously powerful sword called Godslayer.
The Skinny: Like many comic book superheroines, her skills in combat have often been overshadowed by her becoming a paramour of various Marvel comic superheroes, most notably Adam Warlock and Nova.
Real Name: Groot
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish (vol. 1) #13 (November, 1960)
Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Origin: Groot originally encountered Earthlings when he tried to capture a number of them for scientific study. However, once the comic calamities started to happen, he eventually used his power for good, to defend the universe from destruction.
Powers: Groot is made of wood. He can regrow any part or all of his body if only a sliver of it exists. He can also control certain plants and has a genius-level I.Q.
The Skinny: Groot has an interesting comic book history. He is one of the earliest Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creations, pre-dating the Fantastic Four, Hulk X-Men and Avengers. He first appeared in comics when Marvel was publishing a number of anthologies built around sci-fi themed monsters. Luckily, he went from being a monster-of-the-month to being one of Marvel’s next movie stars. Yes, Groot gets the big screen treatment while Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Iron Fist, and many other notable characters are waiting for their shot.
While the five characters listed above are not only the five shown in the concept art, they are most likely the only five we are going to get. Five characters is a good number to have in a movie and not have it seem overcrowded, and considering that at least two of the characters in the film will have to be completely computer generated, it will probably be cheaper to stop here. But there are a number of interesting characters in the comics that arguably should be part of the movie.
Like, Adam Warlock, who is the closest thing Thanos has to an arch-enemy in the comics, or Moondragon, former Avenger and Drax’s telepathic daughter, or former Avenger and martial arts expert Mantis. These characters are great characters and would be a great addition to the film. Maybe in the sequel, although I am holding out hope that Cosmo, a dog the Russians sent up into Outer Space during the space race that developed telepathy and human level intelligence makes it in there somewhere.