Arguably the most unlikely Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) entry to date, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be crashing into our screens on 31 July 2014 with a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac.

While a fairly significant group of characters in their own right, the Guardians are still somewhat obscure to both the uninitiated and veteran readers alike. However, this doesn’t really come as any surprise given that the line-up featured in the movie first appeared in 2008, making them a pretty new (by comic standards) team.

A mild point of confusion may be that there was another team of spacefaring heroes also called the Guardians of the Galaxy from way back in 1969. That team however, has been since retconned to belonging to an alternate reality (Earth-691) and has little connection with the modern team on which the movie is based.

Foreseeing these little problems audience may have, we’ve decided to cobble together a short list of characters you may want to know a little more about before heading into that dark room with loud noises and moving images.

Related: Press Conference with the Guardians of the Galaxy Stars in Singapore

Peter Quill aka Star-Lord

Guardians of the Galaxy - Starlord

Comics: Born during a rare astronomical occurrence, Peter Jason Quill, is a human-spartoi hybrid. His father, Emperor J’son of the Spartoi Empire had once crashed on Earth and was nursed to health by a woman named Meredith Quill. As is wont to happen when a hunky alien male is taken care of by a hot human woman, they fell in love (and totally did it) before J’son had to return to his home planet, leaving Meredith pregnant with child.

About a decade after giving birth to Peter, Meredith is killed (because we just cannot have a hero with living parents) by members of the alien race known as the Badoon. Having blown up the Quill residence, the Badoon are unaware that Peter has survived and is later taken into an orphanage.

As an adult, Peter joins NASA as an astronaut. Stationed on a space station, Peter and his colleagues are visited by an alien who offers to make one of them a Star-Lord, a galactic police officer (kinda like DC’s Green Lanterns). Peter volunteers but is another is chosen in favour of him. Displeased, Peter finds a way to replace his selected teammate and becomes a Star-Lord anyway.

Further into his career, Peter encounters the Phalanx attempting to conquer Hala, homeworld of the Kree and prevents the invasion by leading a band of rebels against them. In the aftermath, he decides that a team of intergalactic heroes would be necessary to prevent such incidents in the future and forms the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Movie: Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt – you might remember him as Andy from Parks and Recreation) is an interstellar adventurer who was abducted from Earth at a young age. After recovering an ancient artifact, Quill must rally an unlikely team of cosmic misfits to prevent a powerful villain (Thanos?) from destroying the galaxy.

It seems much of Quill’s origins are being modified. No longer does the NASA arc seem present and Peter seems to have been abducted from Earth instead. Also, the name Star-Lord no longer signifies a title bestowed upon one upholding a particular set of duties, but a pseudonym adopted by the ambitious Peter Quill.

Thoughts: It’s understandable why Peter’s origins are being given an overhaul for the movie—it can be tediously long and difficult to manage in a team setting. Unlike Avengers, Guardians isn’t receiving a five movie lead up that would allow each character to be explored individually. What does matter though, is that Star-Lord steps up from being a thief (as described in the trailers) to being a hero. And if all else fails, we still get a good view of Chris Pratt’s chiseled abs.

People are seeing ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and their response to it was that I was believable as a SEAL Team 6 member, so I spoke with my management and told them I was ready to audition for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’
– Chris Pratt

Gamora

Guardians of the Galaxy - Gamora

Comics: Gamora‘s history is a little complicated. The last of the Zen Whoberi, Gamora was taken into custody by the Mad Titan Thanos (yeah, Purple-Face from the Avengers’ stinger) and trained as an assassin. Proving to be especially skilled, she soon earns a name as “the deadliest woman in in the whole galaxy.”

She eventually becomes suspicious of Thanos’ intentions and begins to see him for the psychopathic god that he envisions himself as. Eventually she’s mortally wounded by him but continues existing within the Soul Gem alongside some of the other heroes that had gone up against Thanos. She is later resurrected in the body of a recently dead woman… and is then erased from existence… and is then brought back to life. Yeah, complicated.

Following Star-Lord’s decision to form a team of intergalactic heroes, Gamora joins the Guardians of the Galaxy and teams-up with the Avengers to battle Thanos.

Movie: Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) is an orphan from an alien world who was raised by the mysterious Thanos to become the perfect weapon. As Thanos’ personal assassin, Gamora has earned a reputation as a formidable warrior. Gamora now seeks redemption for her past crimes.

It’s still not known exactly how much of Gamora’s complicated past or time with Thanos will make it to the movie. But it’s pretty obvious that she’s retaining her assassin past and seems to have a history with Nebula, who also shares a fair bit of history with Thanos.

Thoughts: It’s pretty obvious that Gamora’s comic history wouldn’t exactly be an easy adaptation for the big screen. Similar to Star-Lord, the character needs to be simplified for her appearance on the big screen. From what we’ve seen of Zoe Saldana’s take on the character, the more important aspects of the character seems to have been maintained and that’s good enough for me.

I really hope this raises the bar and sets a standard for future generations of actresses. Women don’t have to be the damsels in distress. They can do a Marvel movie and play a badass character if they’re willing to put the work in.
– Zoe Saldana

Drax the Destroyer

Guardians of the Galaxy - Drax

Comics: Originally appearing in the Iron Man comics, Drax was originally a human named Arthur Douglas who, along with his wife, were killed by Thanos. Seizing the opportunity, the Titan Kronos and Thanos’ father Mentor place Arthur’s soul in an artificial body and rechristen him Drax the Destoryer (personally, I think they just wanted to give him a cooler name than Arthur Douglas).

With his life’s sole purpose being the death of Thanos, Drax has been obsessively pursuing the Mad Titan. His obsession even consumes him to the point where he attacks Captain Marvel for defeating Thanos instead. But as happy endings go, Thanos keeps resurrecting and Drax still has a chance to eventually kill the god.

Movie: Similar to Gamora, Drax (played by Dave Bautista) history may have to be simplified. Drax is a very literal and physical brute. He has a personal vendetta against Ronan (not Thanos) , who killed his family. Now fueled by pure rage, Drax will stop at nothing to take his revenge.

Thoughts: Personally, I wouldn’t mind not seeing the whole Arthur Douglas backstory. Drax can still be an interesting character with a similar story of having lost his family to Thanos but forgoing the details of being a human spirit being placed in an artificial body. A more noticeable change is his skin colour – from green to an ashen grey in order to visually distance the character from the Hulk. Also, I’m not sure if they’re ever going to introduce his daughter, Moondragon, but I’m guessing it won’t be in this movie.

Drax is a very passionate character. He’s a warrior but he’s dealing with a lot of pain. He’s heartbroken. He’s living solely for revenge and as a result has lost his connection with everything else.
– Dave Bautista

Rocket Raccoon

Guardians of the Galaxy - Rocket Racoon

Comics: Inspired by The Beatles’ song Rocky Raccoon, Rocket is from a colony where animals are genetically modified to possess human levels of intelligence so as to function as caretakers of mentally ill inmates. A brilliant military tactician, Rocket’s often seen as being a close friend to both Star-Lord and Groot. He was the one who suggested naming the team after the old Guardians of the Galaxy of Earth-691.

Movie: “Aw, what the hell, I don’t got that long a lifespan anyway.” Rocket is a bounty hunter and mercenary whose mastery of weapons and battle tactics make him a formidable warrior, despite being a genetically altered, cybernetically enhanced, talking raccoon.

The result of traumatic biological experimentation, Rocket is a genuine gun-toting badass and mechanical genius
who has a huge chip on his shoulder. While his friendship with Star-Lord doesn’t seem to have nurtured (as yet), it’s clear that he’s already pretty friendly with Groot.

Thoughts: Rocket’s clearly poised to walk away as the fan-favourite and it’s easy to see why. A pretty lovable character in the comics, Bradley Cooper‘s voice and attitude’s only gonna make this guy sexier than any raccoon has a right to be.

It’s a very old-school male friendship (Rocket and Groot) where no one’s feelings are talked about. Rocket is protective of Groot but at the same time you feel like maybe it’s a means to an end because Groot’s his protection too. Rocket’s a raccoon; he doesn’t have the ability to do things that this huge tree can.
– Bradley Cooper

Groot

Guardians of the Galaxy - Groot

Comics: Originally introduced as a bad guy wanting to capture humans for experimentation (wooden probes, anyone?) Groot was defeated by termites. Despite making H. G. Wells’ martians seem badass in comparison, Groot was later retconned as a benevolent character of the species Flora Colossus of the Planet X.

He was later seen to be a prisoner of the Kree and earned his freedom by teaming-up with Star-Lord. Over time, he forms a strong bond with his team mates and Rocket Raccoon in particular, even going as far as dying for them. However, he is able to resurrect from undamaged pieces of his bark-like body.

In addition to his brute strength and ability to “re-grow” himself, Groot’s also privy to the knowledge of his species and is extremely intelligent.

Movie: Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) descends from a race of walking flora and resembles a sentient tree. Despite his strange appearance and limited communication skills, Groot proves to be a valuable ally and a loyal friend — not only to his fellow bounty hunter Rocket but to the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy as well.

The movie faithfully represents his repetitive mantra of “I am Groot.” While it has been confirmed in the comics that Groot’s frequent statement might sound identical, he is in fact saying different things but is unable to articulate due to the stiffness of his larynx—a trait of his species.

Thoughts: I am Groot!

How they were able to reinforce the theme, the meaning and the message of the whole movie in one line of character dialogue impressed me. And how that line translates in the third act is really going to be something that allows the audience to feel like they are part of this world and understand the stakes and what the characters are going through.
– Vin Diesel

Ronan the Accuser

Guardians of the Galaxy - Ronan

Comics: Yet another character introduced as a clear villain, Ronan has evolved to become a character motivated by noble intentions and could be considered almost heroic. Given the title of “Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire,” Ronan’s the head of the Kree’s military.

Movie: A Kree radical, Ronan (played by Lee Pace) continues to fight an ancient war between his people and the Xandarians. Ronan has struck a bargain with the Machiavellian Thanos — retrieve a mysterious artifact, and in exchange Xandar will finally be eradicated.

Ronan leads his army to hunt down Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy when they come between him and his genocidal goal. Ronan’s slated to be the main antagonist of the film but seems to be in cahoots with Thanos. As opposed to being a Kree military leader, he is a radical with a “religious bend” who agrees to retrieve an artefact (presumably an Infinity Stone) for Thanos in exchange for eradicating the Xandarians.

Thoughts: Ronan has proven to be an interesting character in the comics and upholds the Marvel tradition of villains who dwell in the shades of grey as opposed to being all black. It’s unfortunate that the movies may not have the luxury of developing Ronan to the point of the audience being able to witness the character’s depth, but it’s reasonable given that the MCU are already building towards Thanos’ eventual reign of power.

Ronan has been reinvented throughout the years and the more I thought about the character, and worked on it, the more interested I became in what he represents. It’s so universal, and that has made the character so iconic through the years in different forms. He’s the judge, he’s the accuser and he’s brutal.
– Lee Pace

Nebula

Guardians of the Galaxy - Nebula

Comics: Throughout the galaxy, Nebula is a feared pirate who claimed to be the grand-daughter of Thanos. Thanos however, didn’t take too kindly to that association and, with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, transformed her into a suffering, shambling, creature forever teetering on the brink of death.

Thanos slipped up however, and Nebula got her hands on the Gauntlet and turned herself back. She subsequently loses the Gauntlet and escapes with her crew to continue a life of piracy.

Movie: A blue-skinned deadly assassin, Nebula (played by Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame) is a loyal lieutenant in Ronan and Thanos’ employ. Her advanced skill set and cybernetic enhancements make her a valuable asset but her resentment of Thanos’ adoptive daughter Gamora will more than likely be a main sub-plot.

Thoughts: Thanos never knew of Nebula in the comics-and when they did meet it wasn’t very pleasant (for Nebula at least). I can understand the need for a cinematic foil for Gamora and it’ll be a nice change to see two strong female characters battling it out on screen.

For me the most interesting aspect was the sibling relationship between Gamora and Nebula, and the feelings of jealousy, which totally consume Nebula and turn her into this sadistic, twisted, creepy girl who feels inadequate next to her sister.
– Karen Gillan

Korath

Guardians of the Galaxy - Korath

Comics: Much like Ronan, Korath is a high ranking character in the Kree militia as the head of the Pursuer Project, and is responsible for developing much of the technology employed by race’s military. Unlike Ronan however, Korath’s views seldom possess much redeeming traits and is often seen as either part of or the primary antagonist to various superheroes, including the Avengers.

Movie: Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou), a powerful ally of the villainous Ronan, is a feared intergalactic hunter. Korath is a pursuer who is dedicated to the kill and focuses only on one thing—his target. However, It remains to be seen if Korath would be a significant antagonist in the movie given the presence of Ronan and Nebula.

Thoughts: I’m guessing Korath will have to step aside somewhat for the movie to focus on Ronan’s and Thanos’ intentions. However, Korath would make for a pretty great villain in a sequel.

Korath is a pursuer, a machine dedicated to kill, a humanoid with only one thing in mind, to go after his target.
– Djimon Hounsou

The Collector

Guardians of the Galaxy - Collector

Comics: Taneleer Tivan, aka The Collector, is one of the oldest living beings in the universe, having been among the first of the universe’s races to become sentient in the wake of the Big Bang. Virtually immortal, he realized that an important factor in an Elder’s immortality is the will to live. He meditated upon what he might do to give his life meaning. In a vision, he foresaw that beings of great power would arise one day determined to destroy all life in the universe. To prevent this from happening, he decided to devote his life to collecting living beings and artifacts from throughout the known universe, and placing them in safekeeping. As a fail safe if what he foresaw came to pass, he could repopulate the universe and bequeath to them the knowledge and culture of the past.

Movie: The Collector (played by Benicio Del Toro), is the obsessive keeper of the largest collection of interstellar fauna, relics and species in the galaxy. An enigmatic figure, The Collector operates out of a place in space aptly named Knowhere. When he encounters Peter Quill and his band, The Collector attempts to strike a dubious bargain.

Thoughts: The Collector is kinda like a creepy Noah and Benicio looks like he can play the part easily and make it his own. I think he might just take it a little over the top-but what the hey, it’ll be fun.

The way James Gunn described the film to me, it was very cool. I didn’t know anything about the comic that it’s based on, but when I got a chance to read the script I immediately was drawn toward the story and the characters.
– Benicio Del Toro

Rhomann Dey and the Nova Corps

Guardians of the Galaxy - Nova Corps

Comics: Pretty much the Marvel version of the Green Lantern Corps from DC, the Nova Corps is an intergalactic police force composed of roughly 500 soldiers. First seen in Nova #1, Rhomann Dey is a member of the Corps who flees to Earth after being mortally wounded by an alien warlord and transfers his powers to the human Richard Rider. Rider is later made Nova Prime, the leader of the Corps and has gone on to be a significant character in the Marvel Universe.

Movie: Rhomann Dey (played by John C. Reilly) is a Corpsman in the Nova Corps, the planet Xandar’s military force. Dey is a loyal and trusted officer but his by-the-book attitude takes a detour when he develops an unlikely rapport with Peter Quill.

Nova Prime Irani Rael (played by Glenn Close) is in charge of Nova Corps operations throughout the galaxy. From her base of operations on Xandar, the principled and efficient Nova Prime leads her forces with confidence. She defines her mission above all to protect the citizens of Xandar and keep peace.

Thoughts: With Rohmann Dey’s inclusion, I can only assume that a Nova movie isn’t all that far off. This could also open the MCU up to a sub-franchise of cosmic titles that may include the likes of The Inhumans!

I’m amazed at the artistry involved and in the midst of this crazy and entertaining spectacle, there are extraordinary emotional connections that make this film so special.
– Glenn Close

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