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.
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.
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 Thanos’ Infinity 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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