GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: A Beginner’s Guide to Marvel’s Strangest Comic Book Adaptation

     February 17, 2013


Rumors continue to emerge regarding casting of Marvel’s 2014 movie Guardians of the Galaxy.  This month has seen Chris Pratt cast in the role of Star-Lord (AKA – Peter Quill), sources citing an audition of Jason Momoa for Drax the Destroyer, as well as speculation of the incorporation of Jim Carrey and/or Adam Sandler as the voices of Groot or Rocket Raccoon.  An impressive array of talent considering the franchise itself is one of Marvel’s lesser known to the general public.  A beginner’s guide to the Guardians of the Galaxy follows after the jump.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-1969As a brief footnote on the Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie is focusing on the second incarnation of the team in the Marvel Universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy originally debuted in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, focusing on a group of intergalactic heroes fighting a war against an alien race, the Badoon, in an alternate timeline of the 31st century. This team would make infrequent guest appearances throughout Marvel titles until 1990 when they were given their own series which would run until its cancellation in 1995.

Following a decade hiatus, Marvel once again re-focused energy on its cosmic characters beginning with the Drax miniseries and Thanos series in 2004, which served as preludes to the larger Annihilation crossover events which ran from 2006 through 2008. The second of these events, Annihilation: Conquest, was overseen by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (commonly referred to as DnA), whose efforts would see the creation of the new Guardians of the Galaxy by the end of the miniseries. The two would go on to pen the new Guardians of the Galaxy series, which would run for 25 issues between 2008 and 2010.

The Annihilation storylines helped to reintroduce the main members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which are being featured in next summer’s movie, into the more mainstream readership. As stated by editor Bill Rosemann via Newsarama, “it occurred to us that, if things went well, there would be a group of characters left standing who would make for a very interesting and fun team.” What readers were given at that time was a team comprised of a proto-messiah (Adam Warlock), a cosmic killing machine (Drax the Destroyer), the deadliest woman in the galaxy (Gamora), the daughter of an alien protector of Earth (Phyla-Vell, having assumed the role of Quasar), a half-human half-alien space cop (Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord), an anthropomorphic raccoon (Rocket Raccoon), and a giant tree (Groot). Interesting may have undersold them…

Led by Quill, the team was assembled for the purpose of a pro-active response to further galactic crisis. An off-Earth Avengers team in all but title.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-knowhereKnowhere – the severed head of a Celestial (a race of beings similar to an interstellar pantheon of gods), services the team as their base of operations. The base is part observation post at the end of the universe, and part intergalactic port of call. The best description could only be Deep Space Nine crossed with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The chief of security to the base, as well as team’s liason to the facility is Cosmo, a dog originally launched into space by the Soviets, who has developed telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Cosmo additionally provides the team with access to Knowhere’s teleportation systems, providing them with unlimited ability to transport anywhere within the universe. While there have been no rumors regarding the inclusion of Cosmo or Knowhere within the movie, it would seem likely each would appear given their importance to the team’s functionality. Although the humorous dog / raccoon interplay between Cosmo and Rocket would also prove to be a huge addition to the overall feel of the team.


Although Quill led the team, Star-Lord was a rather incomplete character until his utilization in Guardians of the Galaxy. His creator, Steve Englehart, explained on his website the lost potential of his character:

“I conceived something very large. My hero would go from being an unpleasant, introverted jerk to the most cosmic being in the universe, and I would tie it into my then-new interest in astrology. After his earthbound beginning, his mind would be opened step by step, with a fast-action story on Mercury, a love story on Venus, a war story on Mars, and so on out to the edge of the solar system, and then beyond. But — after his earthbound beginning, where I established him as an unpleasant, introverted jerk, I left Marvel, so no one ever saw what he was to become.”

guardians-of-the-galaxy-rocket-raccoonStar-Lord made the rare appearance for the next 25 years, before being re-introduced in Thanos and later Annihilation. Peter Quill has been established as a half-human, half-Spartoi. Quill was raised on Earth by his mother, until he witnessed her death at the hand of two aliens attempting to erase the “Spartoi bloodline”. He eventually would become an astronaut, and during his time upon a space station, would encounter the Master of the Sun – an alien being that would bestow upon him the mantle of Star-Lord, as well as a sentient vessel named “Ship” and his weapon, the Element Gun – a weapon capable of utilizing the elements. In a battle with one of Galactus’ former heralds, Quill’s Element Gun and Ship were destroyed, and he himself critically injured, and was later provided cybernetic implants, enhancing his senses and memory. In more recent continuity, Quill relies upon his battle suit and a pair of Kree machine guns as his primary weapons, having no actual powers of his own.

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon originally appeared in 1976 as a work of writer Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen, inspired by the Beatles song “Rocky Raccoon.” Originally written as the captain of the ship Rack ‘n’ Ruin, along with his first mate Wal Russ, Rocket served as the ranger of his planet Halfworld – an abandoned colony of the mentally ill in which the animals had been granted human intelligence. With a backstory like that, it is hard to see why Rocket was a rarely utilized character throughout most of his existence. Rocket is a skilled gunfighter, as well as being credited with having the best tactical mind Quill has ever met.



A creature of few words, ironically there is very little to say about the alien Groot. Groot originally made an appearance in Tales to Astonish vol. 1 #13 seeking to capture humans for experimentation. Groot made few appearances until his glory year of 2006, in which he appeared as part of the limited series Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, and later in the Annihilation story arcs. Groot derives from royal lineage, however is believed to be the last surviving member of his race. As part of the species Flora colossus, Groot is able to absorb other wooden plants as food, allowing him the ability to rebuild himself. He is additionally endowed with the ability to control other plant life.  Groot has also exhibited the ability to control his own consciousness through pieces of his body. On multiple occasions it has appeared Groot was killed in battle, however he has consistently been able to regrow himself in preserved pieces of his previous form.

The part of casting a voice for Groot provides some doubt upon the speculation of Carrey or Sandler for this role. Groot’s vocabulary is incredibly limited in his appearances, with all of his sentences consisting only of “I am Groot!” The root cause of this impediment stems from Groot’s tree-like body: his race’s vocal chords are incredibly stiff, limiting their ability to speak. Groot himself is believed to be incredibly intelligent due to his royal upbringing, however there is no way in which to prove this. Given this limitation upon the character, it would be difficult to speculate that any marquee talent would be associated with the role, unless James Gunn is planning on taking a vastly different approach upon the character.

Drax the Destroyer

drax-the-destroyerGiven the reveal of Thanos’ involvement at the end of last summer’s Avengers movie, it is reasonable to assume that both Drax and Gamora will be integral to tying together the Guardians of the Galaxy movie to the Avengers, as these two have the closest personal ties to the villain.

Drax the Destroyer began as Arthur Douglas, an innocent man with his family driving through the desert, when Thanos attacks them, killing Arthur. The Titans Mentor and Kronos capture Douglas’ wandering spirit and provide it with the powerful new body for the purpose of killing Thanos, granting him the new identity of Drax the Destroyer. The new body provided Douglas with extreme strength, flight, and energy blasts. Drax has also shown the ability to sense the presence of Thanos over great distances as his new existence is devoted to killing Thanos throughout his frequent reincarnations. During Drax’s reintroduction through the Annihilation series, his powers of flight and energy projection have been lost. In this time as well, Drax has shown a fondness towards utilizing knives in battle, such as those seen in the preview art for the film. Recent rumors have tied Jason Momoa to having auditioned for the role. Momoa definitely has the physical stature to portray Drax, and has proven himself more than apt in wielding blades.

As an aside, Arthur Douglas’ daughter Heather survives the attack and later becomes the powerful telepath Moondragon, who at various points has been both an Avenger and Guardian of the Galaxy, making her a likely candidate for use in later tie-ins.



Gamora’s equally close ties to Thanos have led to her reputation as the most dangerous woman in the galaxy. As the last of her species, Gamora was found by Thanos as a child and raised to become his perfect weapon. Trained in a number of martial arts and aided by cybernetic enhancements of her strength, speed, and agility, Gamora is widely feared by her enemies. Eventually turning on her one-time master during Thanos’ attempt to destroy the universe, Gamora became a confidante of Adam Warlock as part of his Infinity Watch. Gamora’s abilities have been utilized by the Guardians of the Galaxy both in battle as well as for more stealthy pursuits. Rumors have speculated the likes of Gina Carano, Olivia Wilde, and Adrianne Palicki, however there has been no official word regarding any auditions to date.

With filming set to begin in June, a number of important decisions remain to flush out the remainder of this ensemble cast.  While the movie itself centers around relatively unknown characters, Marvel is facing it’s first true challenge in creating a success from properties not widely known outside of the realm of serious comic readership. Gunn will find himself walking the wire of having a blank canvas to the general public whose knowledge will be only the brand, along with satisfying the most hardcore of comic fandom.


  • Bob

    Star-Lord: Chris Pratt
    Rocket Raccoon: Seth Macfarlane
    Drax the Destroyer: Vin Diesel
    Groot: Peter Cullen
    Gamora: Gina Carano

    If the cast would end up like this I would be so happy. It would be perfect…

    • Slitherer

      Agree on all counts except I think The Rock should play Drax The Destroyer and I dunno way but when I read Rocket Raccoon I hear the voice of Dennis Leary but I guess that’s just me.

      With that said I think this film may be Marvel Studio’s first failure.

    • Brian

      I suspect that Seth McFarlane would turn Rocket Raccoon into a furry Stewie (from Family Guy), which would suck.

      Vin Diesel seems that’s he’s too short for Drax, though Jason Momoa, is perfect casting (as far as Drax is concerned).

    • Anonymous

      Rocket Racoon: Jon Benjamin

  • sense 11

    if executed properly this could be an amazing addition to the Marvel movie universe. Not to mention a very profitable one

  • james m

    I lost interest in this movie when they mention sandler and carrey.

    How about Robin Williams, but then again I lost interest in this movie, like I said. Even if Robin Williams was the voice for Rocket Raccoon, I would still not be interested in this simply because it is disney, I lost interest in anything disney related after they chose jj abrams for the NOW FAKE star wars films.

    Lost interest in Lucasfilm, in star wars, in disney, in marvel comics movies, in pirates of the caribbean simply because of the director they chose for the fake star wars movie. Couldn’t they have chosen Joe Johnston or Matthew Vaughn or wait a while after The Avengers 2 and choose Joss Whedon, or Jon Favareau, or Kenneth Brannagh? No they didn’t, they chose a hack so called director instead.

    Well bad luck jj and your stupid, pathetic mystery box and pathetic lens flares, your fake star wars movie will flop and you will your remake star trek remake sequel will flop…remake, pathetic.

    It is disney’s, lucasfilm’s fault and loss, as I used to buy everything marvel related, and a lot of disney things and lucasfilm merchandise. Oh well, one person not buying disney, lucasfilm merchandise might not make much, but it does mean that lucasfilm and disney have lost a long time valued customer. asshoooles at disney and lucasfilm, but thanks, because I will be saving A LOT of money!

    • matt


    • Anonymous

      You mad?

    • wes

      Funny I lost interest in your opinion after that

    • tarek

      I think you are lost boy.

    • Nate

      Fake STAR WARS from here on out?
      Has this guy seen The Phantom Menace?

    • O.R.

      No, it’s not called “losing interest,” it’s called “growing a mustache.”

    • justin

      This guy is a moron. Yes JJ’s movies will flop. Just like the first Star Treck did… Or Mission Impossible 3 did, or Super 8 did… Oh wait they did not….. Fuck mook

    • Anonymous

      JJ is a fucken godly director i had no interest in star trek until this new one was released

      P.S. I bet you have a jew fro

  • Dominik Klein

    well, its a bit hard to get excited for this since its going to be directed by this god-awful talentless hack James Gunn. He is almost as awful as a director than John Moore and goddamnit look at that shitty Die Hard 5.

    James Gunns “Slither” and “Super” are utter film shit and now they re handing him a 200mil dollar+ budget?

    I hope Whedon pulls the strings, if Gunn is the creative-leader it ll be shit.

    • gert

      i’m glad someone feels this way too, james gunn is one of the worst directors atm, so there’s no way i can get excited about this

    • Max

      Slither is awesome

      • Brian

        Gotta agree with Max on James Gunn. “Slither” was way better than it had any right to be.

    • harry hartounian

      Super made me laugh like nothing else in a long time. James Gunn is definitely an inspired choice.

  • bk

    Howard the Duck is Marvel

  • dogg

    Is that a goddam raccoon holding a space gun? We’re out of real superheros already? All I ever wanted was a good Venom movie, and I gotta see a talking raccoon first?

    • Anonymous

      Take it up with Sony. Disney and Marvel won’t wait for them.

    • Rick

      No weirder than Chewbacca

  • kps88

    I’m looking forward to this as a stand alone movie, but linking this movie with the rest of the Marvel universe and the Avengers is going to be one heck of a challenge.

  • Cpt. Hindsight

    Ray Winstone as Rocket Raccoon!

    • Jose

      Now that’s an inspired choice.

  • Anonymous

    Where is Jim Starlins name in all this? He created Thanos and Adam Warlock… Co-wrote a great deal of what has been referenced and yet doesn’t even get a name check???

    • liberal lion

      Jim Starlin did not create Adam Warlock, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane named him and used him in a short-lived series in Marvel Premiere and he was actually created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #67.

  • Bb

    See this is a raccoon with posable thumbs? This is soooo stupid. At least his back story is deep… Animal granted human intelligence.. I can really see why fanboys are defending this. I hope sandler gets the voice. That would be fitting. He can’t do anyone’s voice without overdoing it, changing accents every now and then and sounding like a baby. That’s the kind of talent a movie like this deserves

    • Mark

      I can’t help but think that Marvel has jumped the shark with the talking raccoon.

  • Dan

    What’s with all the hate?! Disney bought ABC, and now we have shows like Castle, Modern Family and Revenge to look forward to. They bought The Muppets, and look how that turned out in 2011. They bought Marvel Studios in 2009 and look what we got in the summer of last year. Now Disney buys LucasArts and got not only one of the best choices, but THE best choice to direct Star Wars Episode 7. And yet now you guys are complaining about something that hasn’t come out yet with any trailers, images, synopsis, or official cast list? Sure James Gunn directed Slither, Super, and a segment of Movie 43, but he got Joss Whedon’s approval, and that’s all that matters to me. So far ever since Marvel Studios did Iron Man, they have not made a movie since, and I doubt this will fail.

  • TotesMcGotes

    I never read the comics,but I’m sure it can be good. But it does looks like a very hard sell for the general audiences.

  • ScaredForMovies

    I’m getting a Green Lantern Vibe from this. Only difference is Martin Campbell directed the good Zorro movie, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale. James Gunn directed Slither and Super and wrote the Scooby Doo movies. Hope I’m Wrong.

  • Schneebles

    Hi, I’m here to birch about stuff? They told me this was the page to do it on?

    • Justin

      “Hi, I’m here to birch about stuff?”
      Is this a Groot joke?

  • Jack

    I for one, really look forward to seeing Gunn’s take on GOTG. I’ve read both the 1st and 2nd versions of the team comics. His personality and chosen film genre naturally mesh with the source material. Both Whedon and Bendis have gave him the seal of approval! Until we see the finished product, I am not going to judge.

    By the way, Simon Pegg would be great for Rocket Raccoon.

  • Jack

    I for one, really look forward to seeing Gunn\’s take on GOTG. I\’ve read both the 1st and 2nd versions of the team comics. His personality and chosen film genre naturally mesh with the source material. Both Whedon and Bendis have gave him the seal of approval! Until we see the finished product, I am not going to judge.

    By the way, Simon Pegg would be great for Rocket Raccoon.

  • deepinthemosh

    Considering this is James Gunn and he loves working with a select group of people, don’t be surprised if Michael Rooker ends up being the voice of Groot. And Nathan Fillion would be fun to throw in their, just don’t know who he would be lol

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