Guardians of the Galaxy - Then and Now

Superhero fans are excited to see if Marvel Entertainment can top its ambitious "Phase One" cinematic series that culminated with the enormously successful Avengers film. The next round of movies will be the sequels to Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, but before we see the second Avengers film, Marvel announced that we will also see a live-action version of Guardians of the Galaxy.  It's an obscure team, not as well-known as some of the others in Marvel's House of Ideas, but they had some fun adventures over the decades, and most importantly, they had a pivotal storyline with Thanos, who was teased as the next big villain in "Phase Two."

When I was an avid comicbook collector as a kid, I read a few back-issues of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which debuted in 1969. They were a really diverse bunch set in the 31st century. Major Vance Astro was sort of a Buck Rogers type, an astronaut who comes out of suspended animation in a universe much changed from what he remembered. He joins a ragtag group of alien heroes, each the last of their individual species, and travel the galaxy together to battle evil. His mates included Martinex T'Naga, made of crystal and born on Pluto; Captain Charlie-27, the muscle-bound soldier-pilot born on Jupiter; and Yondu Udonta, the blue-skinned warrior from Beta Centauri IV. They were later joined by Starhawk, the half-human/half-artificial-being antihero with powers granted by a Hawk God, and Nikki, the flame-haired superhuman from Mercury, and finally Talon, the feline Inhuman, Replica the Skrull, and the Rita DeMara version of Yellowjacket, able to shrink to miniscule size. Not exactly household names! But they were a unique blend of personalities with some fun moments throughout their reign.

The new version of Guardians of the Galaxy launched in 2008 and was even more seemingly haphazardly configured with a variety of different characters -- Star-Lord who started the team to defend the universe from deadly threats, the powerful Adam Warlock, the cosmic-energy-wielding Drax the Destroyer, the adopted daughter of Thanos Gamora, the new Quasar, Phyla-Vell, called Martyr among other names, the extraterrestrial Groot, and the popular Rocket Raccoon. If you think that assortment is a bit all over the place, they were joined by a long list of other support staff, allies, and later recruits, including the sexy Mantis, the intergalactic policeman Nova, the telepathic dog Cosmo, Bug from the Micronauts, Jack Flag, and Moondragon.  The only real link to the original team was Vance Astro who returned as Major Victory with Captain America's shield from the future.

If the movie adaptation is faithful to the comic, will audiences embrace the complex multi-character storyline? How much will Marvel tamper with the source material when so far it has stayed pretty close to the comic book originals? Will audiences flock to see a superhero movie of mostly unknown characters or will Marvel have to insert some of its other mainstream heroes into the storyline? Don't be surprised to see some elements of Guardians of the Galaxy introduced in the upcoming blockbuster Marvel sequels to tease some of the details to come. One thing is for certain, Marvel seems to have a plan that's working and it's sticking to it.