Hooked on a Galactic Feeling: Iconic Members of the Guardians of the Galaxy
Fun, heartwarming, and action-packed, the Guardians of the Galaxy stole hearts — and merchandising dollars — with their big-screen debut. While the 2014 movie was the first taste of the Guardians for most, the franchise is far from new.
The mischievous band of outcasts first came alive in 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #18. That story set the intergalactic saga in motion and it’s been slowly gathering momentum ever since.
A lot can happen over 50 years. Characters die, story arcs end, and new characters are introduced. Unlike the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy crew is in constant flux. For example, the big-screen Guardians cast were vastly different from the ones comic book fans enjoyed in the 60s.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive, exploring the most iconic characters to ever appear as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Get your popcorn ready because these are the most iconic Guardians.
Star-Lord — whose real name is Peter Quill — is easily the most recognizable character from the Guardians of the Galaxy crew. Chris Pratt’s memorable role as the half-human, half-celestial protagonist had audiences begging for more.
Star-Lord is unquestionably the most important member of the Guardians. He’s brash, daring, hilarious, and willing to risk it all for the betterment of all. He’s instrumental in creating the Guardians and he provides fans of the series with plenty of laughs along the way.
These days, it’s difficult to imagine the Guardians without the charming young thief. However, Quill hasn’t always been there. Star-Lord first appeared in the fourth issue of Marvel Preview in 1977.
It’s safe to say that fan favorite Gamora is a survivor. After all, she’s one of the last remaining members of the Zehoberei race.
Adopted by Thanos and trained in the art of war, the green-skinned assassin was groomed for evil from an early age. However, Gamora’s moral compass proved too strong though. It wasn’t long before she freed herself from the iron grip of the Mad Titan and teamed up with the Guardians.
Gamora was brought to the big screen via a flawless performance from actress Zoe Saldana. Saldana played the character in both Guardians movies, in addition to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. When it comes to comics, Gamora made her first appearance in 1975’s Strange Tales #180.
Major Victory has yet to make his big-screen debut, but a secondary character he is not. Real name Vance Astro, Major Victory is a telekinetic mutant from the 31st century with a resume longer than a CVS receipt. Major Victory founded the original 1968 version of the Guardians and has been popping in and out of the series ever since.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Major Victory found Captain America’s iconic shield early on in his timeline and often wields it with Steve Rogers-like precision. At one point, he even bonds to the Venom symbiote.
Charlie-27 is what happens when you engineer a space militia pilot to live in Jupiter’s gravity. Intelligent, fearless, and moral to a fault, Charlie-27 has appeared in the second-highest number of issues of Guardians, behind only Major Victory.
He may look like a human, but don’t be fooled. Genetic modification has left Charlie-27 with 11-times the muscle mass of a regular human. Like Gamora, Charlie-27 is a lone survivor, who finds himself unable to adapt to post-war civilian life.
I get it. I mean, I can’t handle sitting around a window-less office all day — and I don’t have 11-times the muscle mass of a normal human.
A talking raccoon with a penchant for backtalk and big explosions, Rocket Raccoon was always going to be a fan favorite. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, the furry badass is instrumental in the Guardians’ quest to save the galaxy.
Rocket was created when a group of robots genetically altered a handful of animals, giving them sentience. The character was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen in 1976. Debuting in the seventh issue of Marvel Preview, Rocket only appeared in 10 comic books in his first 30-years.
Consider that changed. It’s safe to say you’ll be seeing a lot of Rocket Raccoon moving forward.
She can beat you up with her hands or her mind. Mantis made her big-screen debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but this character is certainly no stranger to the limelight. At a very young age, Mantis was given up to the alien Priests of Pama. They trained her, believing her to be the fabled Celestial Madonna.
The character made her first appearance in Avengers #112 in June of 1973. Later, she would be drafted into Star Lord’s commando unit. She excelled under Star-Lord’s watch and quickly became the therapist and counselor to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Mohawk rocking, arrow shooting alien is the first founding Guardians member to appear in the most recent films. Yondu was sold into slavery when he was a child. Eventually, he was freed and embraced by a band of outlaws who raised and cared for him.
The movie version of Yondu — captured perfectly by Michael Rooker — is much different than the version that appears in the comics. In the movie, Yondu is a mercenary with dubious morals, whereas the comic version is a paragon of virtue.
You may recognize The Thing as a founding member of another big-ticket Marvel team, the Fantastic Four. Following the events of 2015’s Secret Wars, Marvel’s First Family disbanded. Thus, leaving The Thing and Human Torch to fend for themselves.
While the Human Torch would go onto team with the Avengers and Inhumans, The Thing joined the inter-planetary wrecking crew known as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Thing was always an outcast on Earth. Although he saved countless lives, his rocky appearance kept him from enjoying civilian life. As a member of the Guardians though, he was revered.
Talk about a positive career switch.
No comprehensive list of Guardians is complete without Stakar Ogord, a.k.a. Starhawk. Starhawk is one of the founding members of the original Guardians. In fact, the Guardians wouldn’t exist in any form without him.
This iconic hero is cursed to relive the same life over and over again. He uses energy manipulation and can create matter from pure light.
Starhawk, played by Sylvester Stallone, made a minor yet widely celebrated appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. How he contributes to the team moving forward is anyone’s guess.
Some of the biggest laughs in the first and second Guardians films came at the over-sized hands of Drax the Destroyer. The oblivious and humorless warrior was originally created as a foil for the bloodthirsty Thanos.
In the Marvel comic book universe, Drax hopped around quite a bit. Beginning with Iron Man #55 in 1973 and appearing in issues of Thor, Avengers, Warlock, and Logan’s Run. Sure, he hasn’t been a Guardian for as long as some of the other members, but his contribution to the films certainly earns him his iconic status.
There are plenty of crossovers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but merging characters started long before the Robert Downey Jr. came on to the scene.
For example, Kitty Pryde was once an X-Men mainstay. The powerful mutant, who went by the nickname Shadowcat, was once the poster-child of the X-Men. However, love conquers all as they say.
Kitty Pryde met Star-Lord in The Black Vortex crossover event that forced the X-Men and the Guardians to work together. The two hit it off, fell in love, and teamed up to take on the evils of the galaxy.
While the masses may have fallen in love with the walking talking tree in the first Guardians film, he’s been around for far longer. In fact, Groot’s existence precedes the Marvel Universe entirely.
Groot first appeared in 1960’s Tales to Astonish #13. He wasn’t a good guy back then either. Creators Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby commissioned Groot to capture humans for the purposes of experimentation. Don’t worry humans, Groot is on our side now.