Making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie is one of the riskiest moves that Marvel has made since Iron Man and I appreciate that Marvel seems to understand that. In marketing the movie they have made a more conscience effort to remind audiences that Guardians is in the same universe with the Avengers.
That said, this is still an obscure comic. While some of the characters and the name “Guardians of the Galaxy” have been around since the 60’s and 70’s, the two didn’t come together until 2008. Prior to 2008, two other teams had taken the name and mantle of the Guardians, but it is the latest iteration of the team that is of interest to us because they are the ones that will be on the big screen at the end of the week. So, let’s introduce them.
*Note: this is who the characters are in the comics. The Marvel movies typically use the basics of a character’s story and change whatever they see fit. Therefore, these descriptions and backstories may be slightly different (or completely different) than their movie counterparts.
Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is half human, half alien. His father, J’son of Spartax, crash landed in a woman named Meredith’s yard. As he spent time fixing his ship, he and Meredith grew very close but eventually the day came that he had to leave Earth. Because of the war raging in space, J’son felt he couldn’t take his love with him and shortly after he left, she discovered that she was pregnant. Fast forward a few years, Peter is a young boy without a father and, after a horde of aliens, called Badoons, destroy his home, is without a mother as well. Waking up in the hospital, he is left with only his memories and the gun that his father left behind.
After years in an orphanage, Quill went off the NASA to be an astronaut. After reaching space, he began to seek out revenge on the Badoons for the death of his mother.
Gamora is the last of her kind. The rest of the Zen Whoberi were killed off by the Badoons (the Badoons seem to be a reoccurring villain here). Thanos found Gamora in the wreckage and adopted her as a daughter. As she grew up, Gamora was taught combat from Thanos himself and eventually earned herself the title, “The deadliest woman in the whole galaxy.”
Arthur Douglas and his family were driving through the desert when their car was attacked by Thanos killing them all (well, his daughter survived, but that’s a different story). Douglas’ spirit is then put into a new, more powerful body by Kronos who then uses Douglas, now called Drax the Destroyer, as his tool to destroy Thanos. Drax’s origin in the movie will likely be changed as he doesn’t seem to be from Earth based on the trailers.
The tree-man, Groot, actually has two different origins (Why? Because comics). The first is that he was a space invader from Planet X. In this origin, he actually said more than “I am Groot.” Later, his origin was ret-coned and he became the tree that we know today. Interestingly, he and his species are highly intelligent and are actually saying complex sentences, but, because of the hardness of their throats, to most people it just sounds like, “I am Groot.”
Rocket Racoon, who, in my opinion, could either make or break this movie, was the chief of security for the Loonies on the planet, Halfworld. His best friend was a talking walrus named, Wal Russ (yep). After leaving Halfworld, Rocket meets Star-Lord and the two team up. Eventually, the two continue adding members to their rag-tag team (including Groot, with whom Rocket becomes good friends) who will ultimately become the new Guardians of the Galaxy.