The majority of mainstream moviegoers had likely never even heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy before the release of their first solo film in 2014. With such low expectations for Marvel's weirdest solo movie to date, the burden fell upon the cast and crew to design silver screen characters that were instantly memorable and loveable. If that sounds like a complicated process, that's because it was, and the early Guardians of the Galaxy concept art from 2012 proves that characters don't come together overnight. Ahead of the upcoming release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, let's take a look back at that early concept art and reflect on how much this unique ensemble of heroes has changed in the last few years. Check out the art below.

Guardians of the Galaxy Comic-Con Concept Art

While the DNA of the Guardians of the Galaxy characters is still on full display in that early concept art from Comic-Con 2012, it's clear that quite a bit of fine-tuning and refinement went on behind the scenes before Marvel landed on character designs that worked for the franchise. Star-Lord and Gamora clearly had their costumes undergo some major shifts before production began, but that's nothing compared to the other members of the team. Rocket was far stockier and bulkier in his original depiction, while Drax was a bit leaner (and meaner) and maintained the character's more traditional tattoo look from the comics. However, arguably the biggest changes were the ones made to Groot, as his original form had a far more skeletal and human (a.k.a terrifying) appearance.

Compare that original concept art to what we eventually got in 2014, and it's clear that the folks at Marvel worked long and hard to nail these designs the way that they did.

Guardians of the Galaxy

In the end, all of the creative decisions surrounding the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise seem to have paid off. The first film in the series was an unexpected critical and commercial hit, and the early reception to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from critics has been nothing if not positive. What started out as Marvel's riskiest property to date has easily become one of its most valuable assets in only a few short years. That's nothing to scoff at, and it exemplifies how well the Marvel Cinematic Universe knows how to handle its characters.

What's your take on this initial concept art? Do you like the direction that these characters ultimately went in, or do you think some good ideas were left on the cutting room floor? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will make its theatrical debut on May 5. Here's everything that we currently know about the highly-anticipated sequel so you can get yourself up to date before it finally premieres.

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