Marvel Studios releasing Iron Man as their first feature was considered a somewhat risky move back in 2008. Without the level of name recognition inherent in characters like Spider-Man or Batman, box office analysts had no idea if audiences would respond to the material. Of course, the film wound up as a ridiculous hit and became the first of Marvel’s many successful gambles since. This summer, however, arrives what may very well be their biggest risk yet in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
When the studio announced the project at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2012 it was met with quite a bit of confusion. Even some of the most die-hard comic book fans out there were barely aware of the space-patrolling team’s existence, and making a feature based on the material seemed like a very odd choice. After the film enlisted an insane cast and showed off some spectacular footage at Comic-Con 2013, however, the movie was catapulted on to many Most Anticipated of 2014 lists (including our very own). Unfortunately, there are still many out there who don’t really have any idea of what to expect from the movie – but that’s a problem I’m here to solve.
With Guardians of the Galaxy hitting theaters in just a few months, I’ve put together a handy little guide that I hope will help all of you get to know the characters and players involved in the sci-fi adventure a little better.
First, here's the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer...
Now read on and learn a bit about what you just saw and what you've yet to see...
James GunnFirst coming aboard the project back in August of 2012, James Gunn is the big brain behind everything you see in Guardians of the Galaxy, serving as both the screenwriter and the director. The film is easily the biggest directorial effort of his career, as he is best known for his work with the low-budget moviemakers of Troma Entertainment and for making titles like Super, starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. It’s also worth noting that he has been friends with The Avengers director Joss Whedon for years, and that the character Gunn on the series Angel was actually named after him.
Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-LordFirst up we have Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, played by Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt. Despite his looks, he is actually half human and half alien, and when he was a kid he was taken away from Earth and never looked back. His go-to mode is being a Han Solo-type anti-hero, but in the film he finds himself on the run from some very dangerous enemies when he comes into possession of a mysterious orb that is desired by some heavy hitters. He joins up with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy basically because he needs their help surviving the manhunt.
GamoraNext there’s Gamora, a badass green alien played by Zoe Saldana. As the actress explained on the panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July, the character is a hardcore assassin and possesses great strength, agility and speed. She is an adopted daughter of the evil Thanos – who we will discuss in much more detail later – but she is able to start a new life for herself with the fighting with the good guys as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
GrootIf you look at this character and think to yourself, "Man, that looks like a walking tree," then you have some very sharp instincts. Groot is an alien of the species Flora colossus, and is the strongest member of the Guardians. He has the ability to change his size and can absorb wood to become even stronger than he is naturally. He also has genius-level intelligence, though it’s a bit difficult to find that out given that he only has the ability to say "I am Groot" (probably not the biggest acting challenge for Vin Diesel, who is voicing the character and presumably doing some motion-capture work).
Drax The DestroyerThis mountain of alien muscle is Drax The Destroyer, played by wrestler Dave Bautista. In the comics the character began his life as an ordinary human named Arthur Douglas who saw his entire family killed at the hands of Thanos. Needing somebody to help fight the evil titan, a cosmic energy known as Kronos takes Douglas’ spirit and puts it into a powerful alien body. He’s not only incredibly strong, but can also do some serious damage with a knife. He is driven by a powerful need for revenge, which makes him both a great asset as well as a potential liability.
Rocket RaccoonRocket Raccoon may be a lot shorter than his Guardians of the Galaxy teammates, but underestimating him would be a big mistake. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, Rocket is one of a kind, as he was just a normal raccoon before being kidnapped and undergoing experimental medical treatments. As his name implies, he is he is a big fan of explosions and weaponry, and of all the members in the group his closest bond is with Groot.
YonduActor Michael Rooker, who will be portraying Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, has already gone on record saying that the look of his character is going to change considerably from what has previously been drawn in the comics – including a giant dorsal fin and a loincloth – but what remains a bit of a head-scratcher is how Yondu’s personality and backstory are going to change. As part of the Centaurian alien race, he has the ability to empathetically connect with any and all living things, but is also a great hunter and was a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics (before Star-Lord, Gamora and the rest came around). Rooker has been working with James Gunn for years, and we only hope for more great things out of their collaboration.
Ronan The AccuserYou’ve now gotten to know the heroes a bit better, but let’s now switch things over to talk about the bad guys – and what better place to start than with Ronan the Accuser? While we know remarkably little about the character’s portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy or how closely it will fit with what we’ve seen in publication, we do know that he is being played by Lee Pace and is the central antagonist of the story, on the hunt for Star-Lord and the mysterious orb that he stole. In the comics, Ronan is an immensely powerful Kree (a type of alien) who is the leader of the race’s military governors. At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Pace didn’t want to give too much away about his character, as they were just under two weeks into production at the time, but he did have some very straightforward things to say about the villain: "He’s a very complicated Kree. He’s a beast."
ThanosThose of you who have seen Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (which I assume is every single one of you) probably already have a very good idea who Thanos is. Though he only showed up for a couple seconds in the end credits tag of the 2012 blockbuster, his appearance sent fans’ minds spinning imagining what kind of role he will ultimately play in the Marvel world. Hailing from Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, the character is completely in love with the physical manifestation of Death and, as a result, goes to the ends of the Earth to try and please her – which eventually involves collecting all six of the incredibly dangerous Infinity Stones (objects that possesses scary cosmic strength) and becoming the most powerful being in the universe. We’re not 100% sure what kind of role Thanos will be playing in Guardians of the Galaxy, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed his involvement in some capacity. We still don’t know who is playing him, but it’s a question we’re desperate to get the answer to.
Korath The PursuerMore than just a member of the Kree like Ronan, to whom he is considered an ally, Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou) is also a cyber-genetic engineer with great strength, speed and endurance, as well as the ability to track individuals by psionically, tapping into their brainwaves (hence his nickname "The Pursuer"). With connections to Thanos as well, he is definitely playing for the bad guys. In the trailer the character is shown finding Star-Lord as the anti-hero is trying to steal the orb at the center of the film’s plot - but outside of showing some pretty cool-looking alien makeup we don't really know much about the portrayal.
NebulaDoctor Who actress Karen Gillan made headlines last year when she revealed that she had shaved her beautiful red hair to play Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, and we’re really hoping that the bold move pays off for her. Described as a mercenary and space pirate, Nebula is one extremely bad chick who has some very serious – possibly familial – ties to Thanos. Along with Ronan, she will be on the hunt for the Guardians in the new movie, but little is known beyond that (though we did recently get a new still of her)
Taneleer Tivan a.k.a. The CollectorExcept for Thanos, The Collector is the only character whom we have already seen in the Marvel movies before Guardians of the Galaxy, having appeared in the special post-credits tag of Thor: The Dark World. Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck back in 1966 and being played by Benicio Del Toro, the character is one of the oldest beings in the universe, and as his name implies he is rather big on collecting rare and valuable artifacts from around the universe. As we saw in the Thor sequel, his latest obsession seems to be the idea of collecting all six of the aforementioned Infinity Stones, but it’s hard to say exactly what his goal with them is. Is he a neutral force looking to help keep existence safe by protecting the Stones? Or is he a force for evil actually helping Thanos in his quest? We don’t have a lot of answers right now, but I’m personally leaning towards the latter.
Rhomann DeyWhile the character does make a great appearance in the trailer, we actually know very little about Rhomann Dey’s role in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s hard to say how big or small his role is going to end up being, but his character in the comics was a leader of the Nova Corps (an intergalactic military police force), and has a rather tragic backstory involving his entire family being killed at the hands of a warlord. The casting of John C. Reilly to play Rhomann suggests that the portrayal could end up being very funny or deeply dramatic (the star’s range is just that good), so we really just have to put a big question mark on this one.