Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is just five and a half months away, and yet, some people are still wondering just who, exactly, these galactic Guardians are. More importantly, why should we care?
Story, characters, infographics and more.
First up: Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill.
Peter Quill is a half-human, half-Spartoi hybrid (that's an alien race, you know) who always has a chip on his shoulder. Let's just say he's not exactly your squeaky clean hero: As an astronaut with NASA, his drinking and cockiness regularly get him into trouble. He becomes outraged when, while working aboard a space station with a few others, the alien known as The Master of the Sun offers the role of Star-Lord to the coworker Peter had spent his time treating badly. NASA orders him discharged, and in a drunken rage, he steals a scoutship and, returning to the space station, lies to take his colleague's place.
But during his time as Star-Lord, he cleans up his act, letting his braver, more noble qualities surface and, realizing the galaxy needs absolute badasses to protect it, forms the Guardians of the Galaxy. This isn't to say he's your average, boring superhero, though: He's cocky, manipulative, hilarious - and a reformed alcoholic. Kind of like Tony Stark, except with a slacker vibe, a bigger chip on his shoulder - oh, and alien tech that Iron Man doesn't have.
Speaking of that alien tech, it's pretty. bad. ass. No magical hammers or flying shields here, Star-Lord is 100% blazing guns and hand-to-hand combat. He's a master strategist, and an expert in all forms of martial arts, which is great, as he's often in the position of having to open a can of whoop ass on someone. Still, he's welcomed almost anywhere in the galaxy, as he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the customs, languages, and traditions of various alien races. The fact he has a psychic link to his sentient spaceship, called - wait for it - Ship, probably helps. And oh man, his guns: Kree "element guns" that project bullets made of the four elements. His signature look is more Kree tech: His mech suit enables him to fly and survive the atmosphere of deep space, along with the battle helmet and universal translator (you know, that mask-looking thing over his face).
In essence Star-Lord, as the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is unpredictable, rebellious, brilliant, wildly entertaining, and, basically, should be your new favorite hero.
Rocket is brilliant, and I mean, brilliant, a master military tactician and marksman who was Halfworld's (his home planet) chief law officer, the captain of his starship Rack 'n Ruin, and he kept the peace in his lawless end of the universe before joining up with the Guardians. He is utterly fearless, often insightful, and loyal to a fault. And when there's some murderin' and killin' to be done, oh, man, is he so there. Wait, what?
Yeah, about that...
Did I mention he's also a little crazy? Because he's more than a little crazy. Other than probably having obsessive-compulsive disorder, and constantly making jokes about how much he loves murdering people (seriously), there's a whole lot more than meets the eye to the little guy. See, Halfworld was originally a planet asylum for the criminally ill (so Arkham, if Arkham were an entire planet), where all of the animals of the planet were genetically modified to be hyper-intelligent and walk upright to oversee the inmates. As you could imagine, being ripped apart and put back together left more than a few scars, and so, underneath all that loyalty and intelligence, is some bottled-up, simmering rage. In fact, director James Gunn calls Rocket Raccoon the heart and soul of the Guardians of the Galaxy for that reason:
He is most representative of the Guardians in the fact that he’s this little mangled beast that was taken and experimented on and torn apart and put back together, and we have to feel that character’s soul. If we see his plight, and see why he’s such an angry little guy, then the movie will work.
Fun Fact: Rocket Raccoon was a nod of tribute to The Beatle's song 'Rocky Raccoon'.
Fun Fact #2: Bringing Rocket Raccoon to life was a 3-man(?) process: Sean Gunn (James Gunn's brother) provided the mocap work, Bradley Cooper is giving Rocket his voice, and they used a live, on-set raccoon named Oreo to study.
Anthopomorphic trees in legend and pop culture have always tended to be wise and benevolent: The Ents from Middle Earth, Yggdrasil, the Great Deku Tree from Legend of Zelda - you get the picture. What you generally don't picture them as are giant, bloodthirsty aliens hellbent on capturing humans for study and experimentation.
But that's exactly how Guardians of the Galaxy's Groot started out in his original Marvel inception back in 1960. A terrifying monster who wasn't updated to his modern incarnation of the noble, galactic crime fighter until 2007's Annihilation: Conquest crossover sequel. He was also a lot more verbal than the one-line wonder he is now.
Yet the modern version we all know and love is much more selfless and heroic as a member of the Guardians, befitting his status as the suspected last of his kind. On more than one occasion, Groot sacrificed his life for the greater good of the mission, or to save the rest of his team.
Well, alright, he sort of sacrificed his life: The coolest thing about Groot is that, as long as a twig of his survives, he is more less indestructible, able to regrow himself from the tiniest sprig of branch. He's also able to absorb any form of wood to enhance his strength or regenerate, as well as being able to "sprout," that is, rapidly growing in size and becoming monstrously strong, but also limited in his range of motion. He also has the nifty trick of being able to summon trees to do his bidding, turning them into attack minions.
Unfortunately, Groot does have his limitations. Along with the aforementioned immobility issue when he sprouts, the fully-matured, adult form of his species is so heavy and hardened (he is made of wood, after all) that his vocal cords have become petrified, leaving him only able to utter the single phrase, "I am Groot!" But those who know Groot well understand he is saying a range of things depending on the tone and inflection of the sentence, and that his limited vocal abilities belie his highly-educated mind and noble upbringing. He is actually a brilliant engineer and physicist, with the finest education that his high-born status afforded him.
Despite the difficulty others have in understanding him, Groot and Rocket Raccoon have an iron-clad friendship on par with C-3PO and R2-D2 - where one is, the other is not far behind, with Rocket the mouth and Groot the muscle. In fact, Rocket is responsible for saving Groot's life, nursing one of Groot's destroyed twigs back to health, keeping it alive until Groot could fully regenerate.
What Groot lacks in words, he more than makes up for in strength of mind and body. He's an insanely unique character that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world of comics, and it will be fantastic to see how he comes to life on screen in Guardians of the Galaxy with Vin Diesel as his voice.
Fun Fact: Groot's full title is 'Divine Majesty King Groot the 23rd, Monarch of Planet X, Custodian of the Branch Worlds, Ruler of All the Shades, Flora Colossus' (at least, that's what he titled himself when he first came to Earth in 1960).
Question: What's armed to the teeth, deadly, and green all over?
Answer: Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy
Seriously. Having been called both "the deadliest woman in the universe" and "the most dangerous woman in the galaxy," those nicknames aren't hyperbolic. Gamora is a trained assassin and one of the most skilled martial artists in all of the Marvel Universe.
That isn't to say this all came easily, however. Unless the rest of the Guardians, who were mostly rogues and scoundrels before joining up with Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora was a true villain, adopted as a small child by the supervillain Thanos when her people, the Zen Whoberi, were wiped out by the Badoon. It wasn't love that propelled Thanos' actions, however, but the opportunity to turn Gamora into the most perfect weapon in the galaxy.
Raised with very little love or affection from her adoptive father, but a whole lot of training in the art of wetwork, Gamora became an expert of both blade and hand, relentlessly trained by Thanos in hand-to-hand combat, the known martial arts of the galaxy, weaponry of all species (particularly her enhanced dagger, "Godslayer"), and stealth techniques. Later, when disobeying his orders as a teenager and sneaking off, Gamora found herself surrounded by thugs, overpowered, raped, and left for dead. When he found her, Thanos decided to cybernetically enhance her with bionic implants, granting her superhuman strength, agility, and superenhanced healing abilities, making her even deadlier.
Even with this lack of love or familial feeling, Gamora nonetheless possessed a fierce sense of loyalty for her adoptive father...that is, until the aftermath of a near-death experience showed her that Thanos was obsessed with committing genocide in an attempt to rule the galaxy and decided "thanks but no thanks, I'M OUT." Ultimate destruction and homicidal insanity have a way of turning even the most loyal of brainwashed minions against you, I suppose.
After a time, Gamora joined up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but she wasn't exactly what you'd call a team player, instead often preferring to play by her own rules. Despite her sometimes prickly,hardened nature, Gamora joined the Guardians because she felt she had no purpose and wanted to do something for the greater good of the universe. However, it took quite some time for the rest of the Guardians to open up and trust her due to her past. It wasn't until she essentially sacrificed herself to save the Guardians, burning herself up from head to toe within a star, that they finally started to accept that perhaps she had truly set her evil past behind her. Whether we'll see Gamora as one of the Guardians from the start, or whether her villainous backstory will be revealed to us throughout the course of the movie remains to be seen.
Fun Fact: Gamora's full name is Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan.
Fun Fact #2: Gamora's origin/childhood story is similar to She-Ra's, who was kidnapped by Skeletor from her crib and raised in the ways of evil until she was 18, when her twin brother, Adam/He-Man, met her for the first time and slowly helped her find redemption.
DRAX THE DESTROYER
Drax wasn't always the superhuman, green and red killing machine we now know him as. In fact, he wasn't super at all, but human, just an ordinary man named Arthur Douglas. A good family man with a wife and a daughter and a happy life - until driving through the desert one day with his family, when their car is attacked by ultimate Marvel villain Thanos (man, that guy is everywhere), and his family murdered (or so Arthur thinks).
After the attack, the Titan god, Kronos, and Mentor (Thanos' own grandfather and father, fyi, which is how you just know he's a dick) decide they need a powerful new weapon to combat the spreading
threat of Thanos and so they take Arthur's spirit and put it in a body that has superhuman strength, stamina, and resistance to injury, along with the ability to fly through space and project energy blasts from his hands. He's renamed "Drax the Destroyer" and his sole purpose becomes to kill Thanos - which is handy, as he's also capable of sensing Thanos' presence across space.
And that works out just peachy for a while, until Drax is temporarily possessed by an alien entity, battles his daughter, who is alive and now living as the galactic entity known as Moondragon, recovers, later watches as Moondragon goes power-mad and attempts to dominate the planet Ba-Banis through mass mind control, tries to stop her, and then dies when she drains the life force from his surrogate body.
After that, Kronos resurrects Drax again and gives him even greater physical power. Unfortunately, due to the effects of Moondragon's attack, Drax suffers severe mental impairment until Moondragon appeals to Kronos to once again restore part of Drax's former mental capacity. Kronos does, but it comes at the cost of Drax's even greater physical powers.
Drax then undergoes one more great physical change prior to the Annihilation storyline where he appears to die (Again? Seriously? Why weren't you watching him, Kronos?) but is instead reborn into a smaller body with somewhat downgraded superpowers, but a newfound capacity for knives, and it's at this time that his mind is fully restored.
Shortly afterward, Drax is recruited by Star-Lord to be part of the newly-formed Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest, as they say, is history. So to sum up, Drax had the life he knew ripped from him by a murdering entity, then is transformed and turned into a useful puppet by other entities, dies a few times and has his mind bounced around like a yo-yo, all the while having lost any meaning to his life save revenge.
Fun Fact: Prior to being murdered dead by Thanos, Arthur Douglas was a saxophonist and real estate agent.
Fun Fact #2: Because of this "big, green, and DUMB" period, Drax is accidentally mistaken for The Hulk when he is taken to the Microverse.