Spoiler for: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Rocket Raccoon: “What are you? Some saint, all of the sudden? What has the galaxy ever done for you? Why would you want to save it?!”
Star-Lord: “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky movie. A superhero movie about characters most people hadn’t heard of with no immediate connection to the overarching story? A soundtrack filled with nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll? An animated raccoon and a walking tree that can only say one phrase?!
Yet somehow, it worked. Audiences spent $750 million at the box office to see Guardians, and they will appear in The Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
The success of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie made them A-list heroes overnight and opened the door for characters who would never otherwise appear. So who are its best members? Let’s find out.
Played by Pom Klementieff
Mantis: “When I touch someone I can feel their feelings.”
[touches Quill’s hand]
Mantis: “You feel… love!”
Peter Quill: “Yeah, I guess – Yeah, I feel a general unselfish love for everyone.”
Mantis: “No. Sexual love…”
Peter Quill: “No. No, I don’t.”
Mantis: [points at Gamora]”… for her!” – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Mantis is the daughter of the supervillain Libra. Following an assassination attempt, Libra brought Mantis to a monastery to train her. What he didn’t know was that the monks there were aliens called the Kree, who believed Mantis to be the predestined mother of their messiah. Heard of the Kree before? Then you’re probably an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan because they’re a big part of the ABC show.
The Kree trained Mantis and sent her out into the world to learn. She became a superhero and an Avenger. She later journeyed into space with The Avengers and joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Played by Karen Gillan
Nebula: “You are a disappointment, sister. Out of all our siblings, I hated you least.”
Gamora: “Nebula, please. If Ronan gets this stone, he’ll kill us all.”
Nebula: [smiles cruelly] “Not all of us. You will already be dead.” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Nebula was a space pirate who claimed to be Thanos’ daughter. When Thanos learned of this, he tracked her down, made her immortal, and tortured her. She was reduced to a seemingly mindless corpse, but soon had her revenge.
Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy most of the Marvel Universe and became a personification of that universe. Nebula managed to steal the Gauntlet and took the godlike power for herself. Nebula was defeated only because she didn’t know how to use her new power effectively.
Played by Michael Rooker
Yondu: “I may be as pretty as an angel, but I sure as hell ain’t one.” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Yondu was a space pirate and Star-Lord’s mentor. He found Peter Quill (who later became Star-Lord) stranded in space after a ship malfunction and brought him aboard. Yondu planned to steal Quill’s ship, but was stopped when Quill knocked him out.
Without options, Quill asked to join Yondu’s crew, The Ravagers. Yondu took pity on him and allowed him to join. This origin was changed for the movie. Instead of just finding Peter Quill, Yondu kidnapped him because of a bounty on Quill’s head.
#5 Drax the Destroyer
Played by Dave Bautista
Rocket Raccoon: “His people are completely literal. Metaphors go over his head.”
Drax the Destroyer: “Nothing goes over my head…! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Arthur Douglas was an ordinary guy until he and his family were killed by Thanos. Arthur’s soul was summoned by Thanos’ grandfather, Kronos, and placed into a new body. Kronos explained that his grandson had gone mad and needed to be stopped. He gave Arthur the name Drax the Destroyer and sent him to kill Thanos.
The movie version kept the ‘vengeance seeking’ part and has seemingly dropped the ‘Kronos turning a human into a weapon’ angle.
Played by Zoe Saldana
Gamora: “Whatever nightmares the future holds are but dreams compared to what’s behind me.” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Gamora is the last of her species and Thanos’ adopted daughter. Seeking vengeance for her people, Gamora trained with Thanos and became so skilled that she is considered “the deadliest woman in the universe.”
Gamora became Thanos’ greatest weapon, willing to do anything to get closer to her goal. She eventually learned that Thanos was using her and tried to kill him. Gamora failed and was mortally wounded.
Played by Chris Pratt
Gamora: I know who you are, Peter Quill, and I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your… your pelvic sorcery! – Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill is the son of an alien prince and a human woman. The prince, J’son, had crash landed on Earth and was nursed back to health by Ms. Quill. The two fell in love while fixing his ship and J’son left Earth, not knowing Ms. Quill was pregnant.
Peter joined NASA and was stranded in space when his ship malfunctioned. After being rescued and being trained by Yondu, Peter struck out on his own, took the name Star-Lord, and eventually forming the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The movie made numerous changes to Star-Lord’s backstory, most notably changing his father from J’son to someone who I wasn’t expecting. There’s a spoiler box at the bottom if you want to know.
#2 Rocket Raccoon
Voiced by Bradley Cooper
Rocket Raccoon is a genetically engineered cyborg raccoon with really big guns. That may sound like a joke, but he’s one badass critter. Rocket was created to serve as the warden of Halfworld, a space colony filled with mentally unstable criminals.
Rocket Raccoon: “My version of a coonskin cap is basically me chewing on your skull” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Rocket was eventually recruited by the Guardians of the Galaxy for his tactical knowledge. He wound up giving the team its name and has served as leader when Star-Lord isn’t around.
Voiced by Vin Diesel
Groot: “I am Groot!” – literally the only thing that Groot can say.
Groot is alien who looks like a walking tree. He was originally an evil alien who abducted humans and fought The Hulk, but apparently mellowed out between then and his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Groot encountered the Guardians and joined them during a mission. He quickly befriended Rocket Racoon, the only member who could understand what Grooy says. Groot actually says a lot of flowery dialogue but the meaning depends on his inflections in the phrase “I am Groot”. During the event series “Secret Wars”, Groot was Star-Lord’s trump card. He managed to break into Doctor Doom’s lair and give the remaining heroes a chance to stop Doom.
Who’s your favorite Guardian? Leave a comment.
Spoiler Section [because we don’t ruin ’em like other sites do]
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.