Click for Hi-Res
The unofficial news that we’ve all been waiting for has finally been made official! Guardians of the Galaxy has been revealed as another major motion picture from Marvel Studios, slated for an 8-1-14 release. Details are still very early, with no writer or director revealed yet (though they did have the killer concept art above), but Marvel did reveal at Comic-Con that Starlord, Drax, and Rocket Racoon will be on the Guardians team. But who are they? We've got the skinny, as well as info on other Guardians that might appear in the film.
The team we’ll see in the film will not be Marvel’s original Guardians, but those from the 2007 reboot. The original team were a group of spacefaring survivors in the 31st century (Major Victory, Martinex, Charlie-27, Yondu, Starhawk, and Nikki), banding together to stop the ruthless alien Badoon from conquering other planets. The reboot (from writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) is connected in name only, assembling a group of long-standing Marvel U characters into an offensive force for good in the cosmos. Abnett and Lanning seem to be inspired in part by Firefly, with playful, ensemble-driven action stories that get more entertainment from the dynamics of the team’s personalities than the action itself.
If you’re a Trek fan, you might even recognize another template at work, with Starlord in the Kirk role, Warlock as the “Spock,” and Rocket Raccoon rounding things out as McCoy. That’s not to say that their personalities are identical, but close enough to make it work in much the same way. Starlord is cocksure and proactive, Warlock is alien and prone to deep thought, and Rocket is cantankerous and opinionated. It’s a winning formula that should carry over nicely onto film.
The Main Team:
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #4, 1976 (Created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan)
Alias Peter Quill, Starlord is a half-human/half-alien hybrid who aggressively pursued the mantle of Starlord -- a one-of-a-kind galactic peacekeeper. After saving the galaxy from destruction two times in a row (back-to-back!), he decides to create a squad that can deal with cosmic problems before they even start. Like I said before, there’s a bit of Captain Kirk in him, as well as the roguishness of Malcolm Reynolds or Han Solo. He makes a good leader because he never asks his team to do anything that he wouldn’t do firsthand himself.
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #66, 1967 (Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
An intergalactic Messiah created by alien science, Adam Warlock has continually butted heads with Thanos (the villain revealed at the end of Avengers) over the control of a handful of cosmic-powered gems. These are the same gems that make up the powerful artifact called the Infinity Gauntlet -- a glove that would allow its wearer to shape reality to his will. As a member of the Guardians, Warlock agrees with Starlord’s call-to-action and decides to become a more proactive force in the universe.
Arguably the most recognizable member of the Guardians, Warlock has been around the Marvel Universe for a long time, headlining a few monthly comic book series over the years, and playing an integral role in the mini-series Infinity Gauntlet. If Infinity Gauntlet is truly going to provide the template for Avengers 2, then Warlock will definitely be a key character in Marvel’s cinematic plans.
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #7, 1976 (Created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen)
Rocket is a genetically-altered alien raccoon, who once captained his own starship in the distant Keystone Quandrant. His leadership abilities and natural talents as a tactician place him as the de facto second-in-command for the Guardians. He’s also responsible for the team’s name, borrowing it from a time-displaced Major Victory, one of the members of the original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
First Appearance: Iron Man #55, 1973 (Created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin)
Okay, this gets a little tricky. Drax (aka Drax the Destroyer) started life as a human named Arthur Douglas, and was killed by Thanos. Douglas’s spirit was placed into a scientifically-created construct by Mentor, Thanos’s father, with the sole purpose of destroying Thanos. He’s gone through a number of changes over the years, from ruthless killing machine to the comic relief idiot of Warlock and the Infinity Watch, but he’s been pretty much restored to his original incarnation. He’s back to being a killing machine, but with Thanos out of the picture (in the comics, and always temporarily), a membership in the Guardians gives his life a new purpose.
First Appearance: Strange Tales #180, 1975 (Created by Jim Starlin)
Raised by Thanos’s cruel hand, he took his adopted daughter (her race was wiped out by the Badoon) and turned her into a deadly assassin. That plan kind of backfires when Thanos decides to destroy the universe, leading Gamora to side with the heroes to stop him. While not wholly altruistic, she operates from her own mercenary moral code, and is enlisted to the Guardians due to her romantic past and trust in Adam Warlock.
First Appearance of Phyla-Vell: Captain Marvel #16, 2003 (Created by Peter David and Paul Azaceta)
Phyla-Vell is the daughter of Genis-Vell, a powerful alien who held the title of Captain Marvel for a brief period of time. During a major intergalactic skirmish, she manages to steal away a weapon known as the Quantum Bands (worn by a previous Marvel hero known as Quasar), and becomes the new Quasar. The Quantum Bands allow for strong energy manipulation, flight, mental protection, teleportation, and enhanced strength. Phyla-Vell has a romantic entanglement with Moondragon, aka Heather Douglas, the human daughter of Drax who was raised by space monks after her father’s apparent death (more on her below). I doubt we see Moondragon or Drax’s backstory explored in the film, and Phyla-Vell might be the most troublesome Guardian to bring to the screen, seeing as how her origin is more convoluted than most.
First Appearance: Avengers #112, 1973 (Created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck)
This former Avenger is a psychic empath and precog and serves as the team’s counselor and primary support member, making sure that everyone gets along between their high-pressure missions.
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #13, 1960 (Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
Groot is a sentient alien plant who is regrown from a clipping by Rocket into a valuable teammate over the course of the Guardians’ early days together.
Later members of the Guardians included Moondragon (Drax’s daughter and a former Avenger), Bug (a popular member of Marvel’s old Micronauts title), and Jack Flag (a protege of Captain America), so those characters might also be fair game for the Guardians movie as well. While not a Guardian outright, I’m curious if Marvel will include Richard Rider aka Nova in the film. Nova’s origin blends elements of Spider-Man and Green Lantern -- a typical high schooler is selected by an alien to become the powerful Nova Prime. Since the individual members of the Guardians all have fairly complicated backstories, Nova is the perfect grounded character from which to allow the audience an “in” to the larger cosmic world of the Guardians (with the potential of setting up a solo Nova film someday).
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Legacy
Rocket Raccoon: Guardian of the Keystone Quandrant