This week you’ll see many articles explaining what you need to know about the Guardians of the Galaxy before seeing the movie. Which is nonsense. All you need to know is the name, and how to use this hu-man thing called “money” to buy tickets to awesome-looking moving pictures. The real reason for these articles is the wonderful way nerds have reversed the polarity of the entire world: superheroes are cool, and now everyone wants an excuse to join the conversation.
The best thing about the Guardians is that they aren’t united by ideals or shared trauma. They’re only saving the galaxy because that’s where they live. They’re the superpowered equivalent of underdog kids teaming up to save the cosmic community center. They’re not fighting evil because it’s the right thing to do, but because wrong things are more fun and they want to have somewhere to do more tomorrow. And because we like fun, without any other excuse, let’s look at these Guardians:
Star-Lord sounds like a playground insult for kids who like astronomy, but he doesn’t notice, possibly because he’s played by a Mr “Pratt” and is used to it by now. In the comics he gained his powers by being thrown off a NASA space station for being the biggest jerk on it, stealing a NASA spaceship to break back in, and then stealing cosmic power from the human race’s officially selected candidate. Star-Lord, star-ladies and star-gentlemen. Such a jerk he had to use a psychic to mind-control the other Guardians into joining his team in the first place. He spends most of his time fighting faults in reality, alternate timelines, and an entire Cancerverse, despite his primary powers being “able to wear clothes and having two trigger fingers.”
Also, it turns out he’s the secret son of the lord of a military planet, called Sparta because interplanetary science-fiction beyond the stars is no reason to come up with even one new idea.
Gamora looks like a planet of green-skinned women forty light years away have just received our Star Trek broadcasts and sent an ambassador to kick our ass. She’s described as the Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe, so it should be fun if she ever met Chun Li. Which we’re horribly aware has probably already happened in fan art somewhere online. She suggests immense bad-assery by being only one vowel away from Gamera, the giant Godzilla turtle monster. Someone else she’s doubtless tragically done in fan art online. Gamora was raised to be awesome at murdering anyone who got in her way, and to not see any moral problem with that. She must have gone to the same school as every other Hollywood action star. It’s slightly worrying that most of the movie’s trailers think that green skin should be seen but not heard. Even Groot gets more words than her, and Groot only has three words. In the comics she kicks a lot more ass at work and play. She recently had a drunken night out with Tony Stark, and then went back to the party while he lay in a heap wondering if he could reroute repulsor power into electro-Viagra. She helped She-Hulk train to defeat the Champion of the Universe in a boxing match to determine the fate of a planet, and sentences like that are why I love comics. She even fought a sword-wielding angel on the dark side of the moon, hurling her into the top ten list of “comic panels likely to be painted on the side of a metal band’s van.”
Drax the Destroyer
For some reason the Marvel.com site introduces Drax as “a former saxophonist.” I know it’s getting difficult to tell all the generic Marvel strongmen apart, but that’s why we made them wear so many bright colors in the first place. When cosmic villain Thanos killed Drax’s family, the eternal Kronos transferred Drax’s soul into an ultra-tough body so that he could fight back. Drax is what happens when a Greek god decides he wants Batman without waiting through all the training. For a while he didn’t use guns because he could fire energy blasts from his hands, but now he doesn’t use them because it’s just cooler this way.
Kronos sealed off his old memories so that he’d focus on hating and destroying Thanos. But since those memories are of Thanos killing him, his wife, and (apparently) his daughter, it seems the Eternals just fill all the extra time by making things more complicated for themselves. Drax alternates between desperately trying to destroy Thanos, and grimly searching for purpose now that Thanos is dead, because he forgets that no one in Marvel ever stays dead (despite returning to life twice himself). You could throw a Marvel villain’s body into liquid nitrogen and it still wouldn’t be cold before it was somehow resurrected. For a time he had greatly enhanced strength at the expense of a damaged mind, before the characters realized Marvel already had a Hulk and rebooted him back to his original levels. He’s now merely human-scale terrifying, possibly because he knew he would be played by Bautista. Which is glorious. We’re one step closer to them realizing we’d just watch a movie about WWE wrestlers rampaging across the galaxy.
Rocket Raccoon is by far the most famous of the Guardians because he’s a Saturday morning cartoon character in a real movie, because cute animals doing things they normally don’t is the override code for online popularity, and because holy hell, that is a raccoon with a rocket launcher.
The only problem with Rocket Raccoon is that talking procyons now have more major motion picture appearances than Wonder Woman. Which is all kinds of insane. Either Hollywood executives are considerably more furry than expected, or they have even worse problems with modern sex issues. Luckily Rocky himself doesn’t have to measure up to the Amazonian hero. The last cinematic talking animal on his scale was Howard the Duck, and he would have to give fifty dollars to everyone buying a ticket to do worse than that movie. And anyone buying a large drink at an IMAX viewing would still earn a profit. Like most of the Guardians, his powers are less “galactic” and more “street fight,” but Guardians of the Dark Alleys isn’t a family-friendly film. But has doubtless already been made as fan art. Our favorite thing about him is how his role as the miniature surly combat expert makes him an excellent replacement for Wolverine. Seriously, imagine replacing Wolverine with Rocket Raccoon in any other setting and tell us it isn’t better.
Groot is the Monarch of Planet X, and we feel deep shame in saying anything which might distract from such an awesome title. He’s a sentient tree who first arrived on Earth to find humans to experiment on. Making him the least sexually-influenced alien abduction story in existence. He probably wasn’t aware he was doing anything wrong, he was just doing his planet’s equivalent of carpentry. He just wanted to cut a human in half to find out how old it was.
He’s a sentient tree and resistant to fire, which is frankly cheating. He also returns from the dead as rapidly as any Marvel character, but at least he has the excuse of resprouting from saplings cut from his previous incarnation. He’s sacrificed and regrown himself more times than a GIF of Dr. Who. His catch-all phrase of “I am Groot,” the only thing he ever says, is actually an advanced form of alien super-Mandarin. The same syllables are given an incredible range of meanings with subtle intonation differences that most people can’t distinguish. We’re not sure how that syncs up with being voiced by Vin Diesel in the movie. And when he inevitably says something else it’ll raise far more questions than even his expanded vocabulary will be able to answer. Was he just taking the piss out of everyone up to now? Does he act simple so no-one asks him awkward questions about Entwives? Does he limit conversation with humans to minimize his risk of ever being taken to a public park with dogs? We may never know. But we will go see Guardians of the Galaxy! Luke McKinney writes about games, drink, science, and everything else that makes life amazing. He’s a columnist on Cracked and writes for several beer magazines. He’s also available for hire. Follow him on Tumblr and Twitter @lukemckinney. Luke also compiled the Mutants Too Lame to Get Their Own X-Men Film.