Guardians of the Galaxy Primer: Who Are These Space Avengers?

The Mighty Marvel Machine keeps cranking out box office hits. Next up to bat is Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians is the biggest gamble Marvel Studios has made. They are using secondary, if not tertiary, characters as the stars of the film. None of these Guardians are household names like Iron Man, Hulk, or Captain America. Even casual fans of comics may have a hard time explaining who these Space Avengers are. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a group of adventurers dedicated to keeping the universe safe, not just Earth. They are very much adventurers and not necessarily heroes. Like the Avengers, they have had several incarnations throughout the years. Starhawk, Charlie-27, Major Victory and Nova have all been members of Guardians. The team depicted in the Marvel Studios film version consists of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax The Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

Guardians of the Galaxy cast photo
Guardians of the Galaxy
In Theaters August 1st, 2014

Before jumping aboard Knowhere (the space station that serves as the base of operations for the Guardians) let’s break the Marvel Universe into its simplified core story worlds:

Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Mighty Avengers, Secret Avengers

X-Men – All mutants – Utopia, San Francisco, Westchester County, NY, Madripoor

New York – Spider-Man, Daredevil, Marvel Knights

Fantastic Four – Negative Zone, alien invasions, Doctor Doom, Mole Man

Cosmic – Guardians, Nova, Captain Marvel, Silver Surfer, Annihilus, Quasar

The Guardians of the Galaxy are part of the cosmic realm of Marvel. The cosmic realm consists of heroes such as Silver Surfer, Nova, Beta Ray Bill, Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and Gladiator. It includes the alien races of Kree, Skrull, Inhumans, Brood and Shi’ar. The villains of the cosmic realm include Thanos, Annihilus, Blastaar, Ronan The Accuser, Super Skrull and Galactus. As you can immediately see, we are working with some obscure characters to the casual fan. Believe it or not, these are the popular ones. This cosmic realm is the one corner of Marvel’s Universe that they have not explored in film. Again, this is a big gamble to see how far into the long boxes (archive) Marvel can reach to keep the interest of the public. To assist Marvel in their efforts, the following is a primer to prepare new and old comic fans a cheat sheet of who’s who in Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy.


Marvel Comic's Star-Lord
Interplanetary Space-Cop

Star-Lord, Peter Quill

Played by: Chris Pratt

First Appearance: Marvel Preview #4, 1976

Star Lord is the Spartoi/Human son of Prince J’Son of Spartax and Meredith Quill of Earth. He is a part of the Imperial bloodline and is one of many to carry the mantle of Star-Lord. Star Lord is a trained astronaut who becomes an “interplanetary space-cop”. Star-Lord is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and was instrumental in the Annihilation Conquest and ThanosInfinity storylines. He helped defeat Annihilus and Thanos in battle becoming a true hero to the universe. Star-Lord has no super powers of his own. His suit empowers him with enhanced strength and durability as well as the ability to travel through space. He is an expert strategist, marksman and tactician. He is armed with an element gun and a quick wit. Star-Lord is a no-nonsense, action first character. He is a respected ally to Nova, The Avengers and Uatu The Watcher.


Gamora of Marvel Comics
Assassin Extraordinaire


Played by: Zoe Saldana

First Appearance: Strange Tales #180, 1975

Gamora is the sole survivor of the Zen Whoberis alien race. Thanos rescued her from her would-be assassins and raised her as his own. Thanos raised Gamora as his own child and trained her to be the galaxy’s most lethal assassin. He gave her bionic enhancements and intense training. Gamora has enhanced strength, agility and a healing factor like Wolverine’s. She is an accomplished martial artist and carries Godslayer, a dagger with the ability and power to slay even the most powerful of entities. Although Gamora was raised by Thanos, she believed he was good for most of her life. He altered her perception so his evil acts seemed morally good. Gamora served as a member of the Infinity Watch when she realized her adopted father was evil. She is widely considered the greatest assassin in the universe even though her cold-blooded killing days are over. She travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy seeking redemption for the crimes she committed under Thanos‘ command.

Drax The Detroyer

Drax The Detroyer of Marvel Comics
Drax The Destroyer
Bred for a Purpose

Drax The Detroyer, Arthur Douglas

Played by: Dave Bautista

First Appearance: Iron Man #55, 1973

Arthur Douglas and his family were driving through the Mojave Desert when they saw a space ship fly overhead. Thanos The Mad Titan was in command of that ship, attempting to fly undetected. Thanos spotted the family and killed them as they were witnesses to his presence. The daughter, Heather, survived and was raised by Thanos’ father, Mentor. In trying to create a being capable of stopping Thanos, Mentor and his father Kronos obtained the spirit of Arthur Douglas and fused it with cosmic energy and soil from Earth to create Drax the Destroyer. Drax has superhuman strength, durability and flight. He is invulnerable and can project blasts of cosmic energy from his hands. He relies mainly on his physical abilities in his current state. Drax is a force of physical strength and an imposing figure across the universe. Drax has spent his life pursuing Thanos. His driving force is to kill him. After seemingly completing the task by punching through Thanos‘ chest, Drax joined the Gaurdians of the Galaxy. He has served as a member of Infinity Watch with Gamora and is an ally to Iron Man.

Rocket Racoon

Rocket Racoon of Guardians of the Galaxy
Rocket Raccoon
Sharpshooting Space Ranger

Rocket Raccoon

Voiced by: Bradley Cooper

First Appearance: Marvel Preview #7, 1976

Rocket Raccoon is from the planet Halfworld. Halfworld’s population is 50% robots and 50% humanoid animals and “Loonies“. Halfworld began as a world of psychiatrists, who created robots to care for their patients or Loonies, as they came to be called. Over time the psychiatrists abandoned Halfworld and the now sentient robots genetically enhanced animals to take care of and make toys for the Loonies . The two populations split and constantly fight with each other. Rocket Raccoon was a guard of one of the Quadrants on his side of Halfworld. After spending years exploring space with his companions Lylla and Wal Rus, Rocket was taken captive by the Kree. While in prison, he met Star-Lord and joined him to help defeat the Phalanx. Rocket Raccoon is a brilliant tactician and is fiercely loyal to his friends. He has a heightened sense of smell and vision. He is the Guardians of the Galaxy weapon master and carries many types of guns, laser rifles or any other firearms.


Groot of Marvel Comics Guardians of the Galaxy
Sentient Tree


Voiced by: Vin Diesel

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #13, 1960

Groot is a Floral Colossus, a race of sentient trees from Planet X. He came to Earth to use humans as test subjects, however, he was defeated by termites, yes termites. Groot, believed to have perished by the attack but his powers kept him alive. He lived beneath the Earth as a captive of The Collector and was eventually freed by Mole Man. Mole Man ordered him to attack New York City where he fell in battle to Hulk. Groot was eventually kidnapped by S.H.I.E.L.D. and joined their supernatural team, The Howling Commandos. Groot made his way back to space and joined up with Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon to defeat the Phalanx. Groot sacrificed himself to save his new friends. Upon his unfortunate destruction, Rocket planted a branch from Groot’s body in a pot that he carried and eventually Groot regenerated. Because of his physiology, his vocal chords do not function properly and the only English words he can say are; “I am Groot”. Groot has a healing factor that allows him to regrow limbs, branches or even his entire body. He has enhanced strength and can increase his mass. Groot can absorb wood and plant life to enhance his abilities. He can communicate with plant life and control them as needed. Despite his physical abilities Groot has an advanced intellect and a scientific mind.


Thanos, wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet
The Mad Titan


Voiced by: Josh Brolin

First Appearance: Iron Man #55, 1973

Thanos is one of the fiercest villains in the Marvel Comics Universe. He is a second generation Eternal born on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Thanos was born with the Deviant Syndrome which gives him his purple hue and misshapen features. From an early age he was obsessed with the concept of death. He was an outcast and dedicated his life to improving himself through meditation, mysticism and with cybernetic implants, making him the most powerful of Titans. Recently, Marvel has expanded Thanos‘ early days and he is now credited with being the first to invent a weapon and commit murder on Titan. He repeatedly dissected animals and quite possibly his mother. Thanos fell in love with Mistress Death, the physical manifestation of death itself. Death has given Thanos more powers, and her love is what inspires him today. Thanos is notoriously known as the wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet, the most powerful weapon in the Marvel Universe. Thanos‘ powers are immeasurable. He is immortal, has superhuman strength, agility, reflexes and endurance. Thanos is also immune to psychic attacks and can project a combination of psychic and cosmic energy from his hands and eyes. When wielding the Infinity Guantlet, Thanos gains extra powers based on the gem that is activated (Look for Guardians of the Galaxy to expand on these gems in the film).

Ronan The Accuser

Marvel Comics  Ronan The Accuser
Ronan The Accuser
Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire

Ronan The Accuser

Played by: Lee Pace

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #65 1967

The Kree are one of the largest races in Marvel’s cosmic world. Ronan is a member of the royal family and was formally educated before joining the Accuser Corps, the law enforcement agency of the Kree Empire. Ronan rose through the ranks of the Accuser Corps and after defeating a Skrull Warship invading Kree space he was promoted to Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire. After the Annihilation storyline Ronan became Emperor of the Kree. He has been considered a villain most of his life but at times rises above the label to serve as a protector of the universe. Ronan has above average strength, durability and agility. He is a gifted strategist with a high intellect. He wears Kree Accuser Armor that enhances all of his physical attributes and gives him power limited to this own intellect. He can survive in any atmosphere and can teleport with the armor on. It allows him to fire energy blasts as well. His hammer, the Universal Weapon rivals Mjolnir in power. It can only be wielded by a Kree Accuser in their armor and has the ability to manipulate matter and time. It can fire energy blasts, create force fields and allows Ronan to fly.


Nebula, villain to The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy
Mercenary Space Pirate


Played by: Karen Gillan

First Appearance: Avengers #257 1985

Nebula is the alleged granddaughter of Thanos. Nebula is also an Eternal but is not of the pure bloodline like Thanos. Nebula is best categorized as a Mercenary or Space Pirate as they are typically called in Marvel’s Cosmic Universe. She has an unknown origin but surfaces in times of attempted conquest. She conquered Thanos‘ ship for a short time, only to be nearly killed upon his return. Nebula is an opportunist and as Thanos was gloating in his victory over Marvel’s elite heroes in Infinity Gauntlet, she stole the Infinity Gauntlet for herself, albeit for a very short period. Nebula was a one time ally to Gamora and battled alongside her against Ronan The Accuser. Nebula is cybernetically enhanced, giving her super strength and durability. She is a skilled hand to hand combatant and has advanced knowledge of military strategy, space warfare, technology and astro-navigation.

Sci-Fi Super Heroes

Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy is shaping up to become its most ambitious project thus far. The characters outlined above are primed perfectly for a Science Fiction film but are starring in the next great Super Hero film from the pages of Marvel Comics. Only the box office numbers will tell if the gamble Marvel is taking, putting these obscure characters on the front lines of a nearly over-saturated market, pays off. Luckily cross-media marketing is generating a groundswell of buzz for characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot. If fans of super hero films will take the plunge into Guardians of Galaxy, they will be rewarded with an entertaining, quirky, rude and funny cast of characters that breaks the mold of the cape-wearing heroes of summers past.

Guardians of the Galaxy trailer 2 UK -- Marvel | HD

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  1. this movie hinges on rocket raccoon. if they can’t get him right then it’s over.

    • As somebody who likes comic book movies but can’t really get into comics (i.e. most of these movies’ target audience) – the fact that there’s a freakin raccoon really makes me not interested in this movie. When you think up of super heroes and you go for a raccoon I think you’re just out of ideas. Also those things are all over Seattle and they always suck all the time.

      • Jamie Tracy

        Rocket is technically an alien, it is a running joke that he gets pissed when people call him a raccoon.

        Just think, he has been around since 1976. There was a major push for Sci-Fi around that time so The major Comic Publishers, Marvel and D.C. began expanding their worlds to try and eat off of Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, ets.

      • Please, its space. Rocket raccoon is a member of the team just like B’dg the Anthropomorphic Squirrel is a member of the Green Lanterns. Run out of ideas? He’s an old idea that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took further than anyone has to date and made him a very popular character that people now want to see get done in that same light on the big screen.

        I know its your opinion, but at the very least make an informed opinion by seeing what the fuss over this character is before just bashing it based on how the concept sounds in your head without knowing how it was actually executed.

      • And it is probably because you’re not a comic book fan. If I wasn’t such a GoG fan (2008) I might agree. However keep an open mind. While i wouldnt class him as a super hero Rocket Racoon is by far the most interesting out of GoG characters. He’s definitely the ‘hook’ of the new movie. And if you can believe in space Vikings, green giants and super soldiers… Is a genetically made, talking, wisecracking, bipedal Racoon that specialises in weapons/battle tactics too much. Maybe… But he’s sooooo badass! Don’t write him off just yet.

  2. Willian

    Cant’ wait for this film. The 2008 series was great and the new book that was released was excellent. If you weren’t into Guardians before, now is the time.

  3. Aron Buckner

    I’m hoping they keep it as close as possible to the spirit of the comics(Not the Marvel Now version)….

  4. I’d be really surprised if this movie is successful, not many mainstream movie goers even heard of it.

  5. antoine

    This was all way too nerdy for me, but I’m intersted to see if Marvel makes this work.

  6. That would’ve pretty cool if at the end of “The Avengers”, Iron Man just drifted in space eventually meeting up with the GotG

    • You know buddy, it would had been “freaking awesome”! First off it would have come as total shock to moviegoers, but then it would have become a thing of legend the way his comeback was staged either in Gotg or Avengers 2 (I prefer the latter)… But i guess being no studio would take such a risk… The backlash they would face!

  7. cool! now i know wtf this is lol

  8. Though I’ve read some of these comics, the synopsis i read sounded a lot like “Farscape” lol. Regardless, I’m still looking forward to it!

  9. Wes. Orellana

    This just seems like such a huge waste of time for Marvel Universe. Can we get a proper Antman movie with Hank Pym and Black Panther before GotG. I really would like some racial diversity and an Antman superhero film that also acted as a character study for Hank Pym would be fantastic. He is one of the most complex characters ever. Should have been in The Avenger’s.. or better yet mention that Fury decided not to use him for The Avenger’s Intiative which only adds to his inferiority complex.

    • Jamie Tracy

      I agree that racial diversity is non existent in Marvel Studios, save for the two military men, Falcon and War Machine. At least we have a Luke Cage Netflix project in the works.

      Check out my Avengers: Age of Ultron article for more on this.

  10. BeckMan

    I really hope the movie works. But it’s going to be an uphill battle.

  11. I honestly knew nothing about the Guardians of the Galaxy before this. But this movie seems like it’ll take a load of money to make with majority of the main characters CG or a lot of props. They definitely should start connecting their movies and have characters from all the individual films have cameos and intertwine with whats going on in the other movies

  12. Eldon Mays

    Great piece.

  13. I’m really looking forward to this with excitement and dread. If handled correctly this movie will surpass avengers. If not this will be the old fantastic four all over again.

  14. kennith

    very helpful, story seems nice too , but.. i am a bit concerned about how seriously ill take a movie with a talking tree and a talking, shooting , smartmouth racoon. all CG. But hey, time will tell

    • How seriously did you take LOTR, HOBBIT or AVENGERS? Hulk….?

  15. Very nice informative article.

  16. Heck, I’m a Marvel comics regular and this is one of those titles I never pick up (not because I dislike it though, just never appealed to me) didn’t even know about the characters’ names, chrissake what’s wrong with me?

  17. Yeah, the design these characters don’t have quite the same universal appeal as some of the other superhero types imo.

    If the movie is great it might help but if it’s just average I see them dying a quick death in terms of popularity outside of geekdom.

    Let’s see how well they catch on…

  18. Michael Krebs

    I’m very new to the comic books world so this was a very informative article that I found interesting. I have to say that the trailers intrigue me and I will definitely be seeing this movie and doing more research about the comics.

  19. Tyler McPherson

    This was a great article. I haven’t read many comics, I did attempt the free guardians ones which were origin stories basically. However this is a very informative article and as a marvel fan, I will go see this movie.

  20. Jemarc Axinto

    The minute I heard this movie was coming out I held my breath in hopes for rocket raccoon. It would be a crime not to have him. So seeing him in the trailer…the excitement I felt was very real. Splendid article, very informative :).

  21. Not familiar with this, but I’m intrigued.

  22. Galindo

    Thanks now I know a little bit about the members.

  23. The raccoon reminds me of Eric cartman in the South Park episode ‘the coon’ after all he does dress up like a racoon

  24. I am not warming to this franchise.
    The characters all sound terrible.

  25. Ive never read Guardians of the Galaxy its refreshing I guess because I won’t have any pre expectations of the film I trust marvel though so.. yeah…

  26. Helen Parshall

    I will, albeit slightly shamefully, admit to not knowing much about Marvel beyond the Avengers. That being said, you’ve inspired me to get off my couch and start reading more comics in preparation for this film. Thanks for the article! Also I’m not sure if you coined the term now, but I love the phrase “mighty marvel machine” so much.

  27. Jonah Chilton

    Cool. Really interested in this movie.


  29. Thanks for posting this because I had no clue who the Guardians of the galaxy were. Now, I’m moderately interested in the film when I previously had no interest in it at all.

  30. S.Lundberg

    Yeap definitely gonna geek out when this movie arrives

  31. Salerno

    Does anyone remember how awesome Iron Man 1 was because it felt like it could actually happen? This is going to far away from the idea of that film but I realize that the filmmakers didn’t expect all this to become so big…

  32. I’m curious to see how they’re going to pull this movie off. Marvel movies have never been realistic, but they try their best to be grounded as much as possible, at least compared to the comics. I wonder how they’re going to explain a talking tree and a talking raccoon.

    • I hope they do not try to go into orgins of all the characters. Best just to say “here they are accept them and watch the movie.”

  33. S.A. Takacs

    This article was really informative. Now I have some context while the hype continues to build around Guardians and the Galaxy. Thanks!

  34. Amanda Dominguez-Chio

    This is awesome! Now I’ll be prepared for the movie. Great job!

  35. Giovanni Insignares

    Good job on this. I don’t have a concern about IF this movie will be good enough. The main problem is whether or not casual audiences will support it enough to encourage Marvel to continue pushing outside of the box. I think the marketing so far has been very efficient in spinning the strangeness of this property into something interesting, but we’ll just have to wait and see if it succeeds come August.

  36. This is one of the few Marvel properties that I had no idea existed, but after watching the trailers it seems like GotG has the potential to be one of the funnest Marvel movies to date. I really dig the Whedon-esque dialogue and setting but after reading your article I’m interested in seeing if the witty dialogue is exclusive to James Gunn or if its always been a staple of the series. No matter what, it looks like it’ll be a blast.

  37. newkirk

    this movie will make people forget starwars and rocket raccoon is the next big thing

  38. I am so pumped for this now!

  39. rocket raccoon will appeal to the kids I wish they made star lord more serious.

  40. I love any Marvel movie. While I was not raised on it, nor have I read a lot of actual comic books, I know enough about the Marvel Universe to know that whether I buff up on my knowledge of the characters prior to a movie, I will still enjoy the movie.

    That being said, I am glad I read the article. It gave an excellent in-brief knowledge of each of the vital characters so that I can enhance my enjoyment of the movie with these small tidbits of info. While this kind of knowledge may not be required to enjoy a movie, it definitely helps in understanding it.

  41. Candice Evenson

    I’m really looking forward to this movie, but I didn’t know much about it and the characters. Thanks for the bios!

  42. Yes this is my most anticipated Phase 2 movie! (besides Avengers 2)

  43. Danny Cox

    This was one of the best action/comic/superhero/etc. movies I have seen in a while, and I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much without your article which primed me for the movie. Thanks Jamie. And how about that soundtrack? Great stuff!

  44. I was unable to see this film in the theater, and it seems that I may regret it. I have heard only positive comments regarding this movie. Although I am unfamiliar with the characters and story, it looks like a great movie. Thank you for the character sketches, they helped a lot.

  45. scole

    the movie actually did spectacular, it was one of those marvel films where you didn’t expect it to exceed your expectations and it did, it was quite the film and reading this article after the math makes it even cooler!

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