It’s only taken a little more than a decade for Marvel to churn out six X-Men movies, four Spider-Man films, three Iron Mans, two Thors, one Captain America with a sequel on the way, two Hulks, two Ghost Riders, two Fantastic Fours with a reboot on the horizon, an unfortunate Daredevil movie, The Avengers, Man-Thing got a straight-to-TV treatment….and who am I forgetting? I’ve got to be forgetting somebody.
Anyway, almost all of Stan Lee’s best-known creations have already been put to celluloid – in some cases, multiple times over. Because superhero movies are pretty much the only thing Hollywood can count on for making money these days, we can count on big screen adaptations of perpetually obscure super source material. DC and Warner Brothers haven’t even gotten their collective acts together enough to put out a Wonder Woman movie, so the task of mining its mythology for protagonists audiences aren’t already sick of will fall solely to Marvel for the foreseeable future.
Which means, it’s not implausible that a modern update of Howard the Duck could surface within the next 10 years. Perhaps a noir thriller starring lesser-known Batman facsimile Moon Knight is somewhere in the cards. But for now, we have it on very good authority that in 2014, many a child will ask, “Who the hell are the Guardians of the Galaxy?”
Indeed, who exactly the hell are Guardians of the Galaxy? Let’s find out.
Star-Lord’s origin plays out like a ’70s sci fi stoner version of the Hercules myth. The half-human known as Peter Quill came about via a clandestine romance between J’Son, ruler of the inter-galactic Spartoi cosmic empire, and a foxy human lady. While Quill could, if he so desired, live out his days enjoying the unimaginable luxury and power of a cosmic prince, he thinks his dad is a total dillweed. Hence, he leads the ragtag Guardians of the Galaxy on valiant escapades across space and time.
In the most recent run of Guardians comics (PG-13 for mild violence and sexual content, fyi), Brian Michael Bendis seems like he’s writing Star-Lord with planet-hopping rogues like Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo in mind. Assuming James Gunn provides a similar spin on the character, there’s obviously precedent for that character working out pretty well in a movie.
Often referred to as the deadliest or most dangerous woman in the galaxy, Gamora could turn out to be an unlikely feminist champion in a genre that’s been hurting for protagonists who lack the Y chromosome. Like most characters who’ve fallen in and out of fashion with their intellectual property owners over the course of 30 plus years, her backstory is a convoluted mess. But at her core, Gamora is an extraordinarily strong and agile master assassin with a morally-ambiguous streak and all kinds of emotional baggage. If she’s not reduced to an obligatory love interest or damsel in distress, Zoe Saldana might end up portraying the female equivalent of Wolverine….except Zen Whoberi instead of Canadian. And green. And from outer space.
DRAX THE DESTROYER
In an almost-too-perfect casting decision, the minds behind the Guardians flick tapped Dave Bautista to depict Drax the Destroyer. In the comics, Drax used to look like the improbable son of the Hulk and Raven from Teen Titans, but now he looks like the Hulk only a bit smaller and with regrettable tribal tattoos. Bautista was once “Batista,” a multi-time WWE champ known for being almost as big as the Hulk, behaving like the Hulk, and regrettable tribal tattoos. Having forgotten what it meant to feel anything besides rage and contempt throughout his many years of annihilating opponents, Bautista broke down into sobs of pure joy upon learning that the role of Drax would be his. In that moment, Stan Lee’s astral projection nestled beside the ultra-violent yet misunderstood behemoth, and whispered “Welcome home, Batista….Welcome home….”
Where does he come from? How did he become an expert space pilot and marksman despite his tiny raccoon hands? How does he hold so much liquor when he’s so small? His wikipedia doesn’t make a lick of sense, so I’m really not sure. However, it’s probably not a stretch to assume the chip on his shoulder emanates from the struggles any utterly adorable badass contends with. It’s hard to terrify evil outer space overlords when, at first, they mistake you for a talking Paddington Bear doll. On the plus side, the element of surprise makes them easier to kill. Still, it’s got to wound a raccoon’s pride when he yells “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE NOW, SCUM!” and his target responds, “Aw, aren’t you a widdle cutie pie!”
Introduced as an extraterrestrial villain in 1960, Groot the super tree evidently learned the errors of using his regenerative powers for nefarious ends. At some point, he lost the ability to form any English words apart from “I am Groot.” But he can still emphasize syllables or change his tone, so at least his fellow guardians can always tell if he’s happy or sad or angry or sleepy, or even asking a question. This role will mark something of a milestone for Vin Diesel – for the first time in his accomplished career, he’ll be required to emote.