So this is what all those post-credit teasers have been leading up to: Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s first non-sequel in two years. But does anyone really know who they are?
This latest venture from Marvel expands its reach into the unknown realm of the cosmos, where a group of lesser-known superheroes are entrusted with the fate of the entire universe. Though the original Guardians of the Galaxy characters were first introduced in comic books in 1969 by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the team was relaunched as its current incarnation in 2008 to place them within the wider Marvel Universe as a new band of eccentric, somewhat freakish heroes.
Many commentators have rightfully pegged Guardians as one of Marvel’s riskiest films thus far. With an estimated budget of US$150 million (Dhs550 million), it’s the studio’s only major late-summer blockbuster this year and its first film in two years that isn’t a sequel. Unlike its core Avengers characters, there’s hardly any name recognition here.
Still, there’s been plenty of build-up, like the reveal of Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, who holds one of the six ‘Infinity Stones’ at the end of Thor: The Dark World, which leads directly into the events of this film. Plus, there were hints going as far back as The Avengers, that teased Thanos as a potential baddie in the Marvel Universe. He’ll also appear, with Josh Brolin voicing the role.
The action begins when space explorer Peter Quill chances upon a powerful ancient orb and steals it, before finding himself the target of a vindictive villain named Ronan the Accuser. Quill is forced to cooperate with an unlikely band of oddballs to protect the galaxy and prevent Ronan from getting his hands on the orb. Here, we introduce you to the good guys.
The central character of the film, Quill is the only real human around, though he prefers to go by his superhero name, Star-Lord (although hardly anyone in the film has heard of his moniker – a running gag throughout). Abducted from Earth when he was a kid, Quill grew up to be a keen space adventurer, traversing different worlds to make new discoveries. He eventually becomes the quick-witted leader of this gang of misfits. Besides being a genius problem solver, he’s also got a suit that gives him heightened strength and the ability to travel through space.
Avatar star Zoe Saldana steps into the role of Gamora – and the first thing you’ll notice is her green-tinged skin. That’s because she’s an alien orphan (the last of her species) who was raised and moulded by super villain Thanos to become the perfect weapon – a cross between lethal assassin and fearless warrior. She also possesses powers like superhuman strength, agility and healing abilities. But she is now reformed and desires redemption for her past crimes.
Yes, he’s a racoon. But he’s also a gun wielding tough guy with a snarky mouth to boot (Bradley Cooper in his first voiceover character). Originally just a concept inspired by The Beatles song ‘Rocky Raccoon’, this incarnation sees Rocket as a tough-as-nails mercenary/bounty hunter who has mastered the art of weaponry and strategic battle tactics – and happens to be the genetically-enhanced result of a biological experiment gone wrong.
Not the most smiley of heroes, MMA fighterc-cum-bodybuildering champion and WWE wrestler Dave Batista takes on the role of Drax the Destroyer, a hulking brute who lets his fists do the talking. Originally a human, Drax was obsessed with annihilating Ronan for killing his wife and child and had his consciousness transferred into a powerful new body to exact his revenge. He’s fuelled by rage and pressing on for the purpose of avenging his loved ones.
The descendent of a race of walking flora, Groot is a living, breathing tree-like humanoid creature who has three words in his vocabulary (‘I am Groot!’ voiced by the gruff Vin Diesel). Sure, he may look a little strange, but he’s also the sweetest and most innocent of the bunch. Loyal to the end towards his fellow bounty hunter Rocket, he’s got the ability to enhance his strength, rebuild himself and control trees.
Guardians of the Galaxy is out in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday, August 14.