Against all odds, the Guardians of the Galaxy have swept the world as one of the most popular superhero teams, on par with the Justice League and the Avengers. They rose up from obscurity in a dark horse sort of way. You may not know this, but Guardians of the Galaxy debuted as a comic book team in 1969. The group has featured in various books and their solo series have gone in and out of print on numerous occasions, and they’ve had more roster changes than a minor league baseball team.
Prior to their introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy had been around for decades and went through various dark times. Both the original team, led by individuals like Yondu and Starhawk, and the modern ragtag group, with megastars Groot, Star-Lord, and Rocket Raccoon, share extraordinarily tragic backstories. While the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy are certainly no strangers to heartbreak, Disney and Marvel wisely chose to keep the very worst of the Guardians’ comic book canon from the big screen.
Groot’s Adorable Catchphrase Actually Comes From A Degenerative Disease
Perhaps the most repeated quote from the Guardians of the Galaxy films is also the simplest: “I am Groot.” The self-declaration is constantly played to expert comedic effect throughout the movies, but the comic book origin of the phrase is actually quite tragic.
Groot used to be able to speak, but his race is plagued by a genetic disorder that causes the vocal chords to tighten over time. Eventually, all that Groot and other members of his race can say is, “I am Groot.”
Nebula’s Relationship With Thanos Was Even More Twisted In The Comics
The story for the movie version of Nebula is quite sad. She and Gamora were raised by Thanos, the big bad boss of the MCU, and the sisters were cruelly forced to battle one another for their father’s approval. The comic book version of Nebula also has a connection to Thanos, but it’s a lot less direct and even more violent.
Nebula is a space pirate who isn’t really related to the Mad Titan, but claims to be his granddaughter during a period when he was thought dead. Thanos returns, as he always does, and captures the titular weapon in The Infinity Gauntlet.
One of his first acts is to capture Nebula, and as punishment for her false claims, turn her into a half-melted and decayed figure of “living death” that he keeps by his side at all times.
Star-Lord Went From Grizzled War Veteran To Chris Pratt
The character of Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, has been around since 1976, when he debuted in Marvel Preview #4. The Quill who appeared at that time stuck around for the next several decades and was a far cry from Chris Pratt’s roguish portrayal that has left fans enamored worldwide. Star-Lord ended up being a veteran of all sorts of brutal space wars, seeing things that no Terran should ever see.
By the time Quill reached Annihilation, Marvel’s largest cosmic crossover to date, Star-Lord was a bitter and grizzled war veteran with a dark sense of humor and a real “I’m getting too old for this sh*t” sort of attitude. When Pratt was cast to portray Peter Quill on the screen, though, the comic book character got a quick reboot to match the youthful and charismatic new Star-Lord.
Sylvester Stallone And Michelle Yeoh’s Characters Have A Creepy Connection
Sylvester Stallone made a surprise appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Starhawk, the leader of the Ravager group from which Yondu was exiled. Comic book fans will recognize Starhawk and his allies as the original crew of Guardians, even though Starhawk is the only one who gets significant screen time. Also making a brief cameo is Michelle Yeoh, who also plays Starhawk. Wait, why are there two Starhawks?
You see, Starhawk is actually one entity made up of two beings in the comics. Aleta Ogord and her adopted brother, Stakar, are able to combine themselves to form the cosmically powered Starhawk. Only one of the two is able to “pilot” Starhawk at a time. So, in the GotG films, you see a male-piloted version and a female-piloted version of Starhawk. In addition, the pair begin a romantic relationship in the comics, just to make things more complicated.
In the end, the partnership predictably sours and the two part ways.
Comic Book Rocket Raccoon Was Created To Keep Psychiatric Patients Company
Rocket Raccoon’s personal history is tragic no matter which version you’re discussing. In the movies, Rocket hints at a miserable past filled with cruel experimentation. In the comics, things are a little bit stranger. Rocket is also engineered by twisted scientists in the pages of Marvel Comics, but he’s created for a very specific purpose.
Rocket and a bunch of other anthropomorphic animal friends are built to keep patients company on a psychiatric facility that takes up an entire planet. When Rocket finds out his purpose in life, he escapes and begins his career as a space scoundrel. It’s easy to see why the MCU decided to skip ahead on this story.
Drax’s Daughter Is Less Innocent And More Femme Fatale In The Comics
Some of the saddest moments in both the Guardians of the Galaxy films and comics are those in which Drax reminisces about his slain daughter, Kamaria, who was murdered by Thanos. In the comic books, Drax was a human before he became the Destroyer. He lost a daughter to the vicious Titan, or so he thought. In actuality, Drax’s daughter in the comics, Heather Douglas, is found and raised by Mentor, Thanos’s father. Drax does not know this, and turns into a super-powered monster in order to seek his revenge.
Heather grows up to become Moondragon, an occasional Avenger known for being one of the first openly bisexual characters in Marvel Comics, and for wearing a costume that was outrageously revealing. Moondragon breaks bad on numerous occasions, and so she’s quite dissimilar to Drax’s innocent memories of Kamaria in the movies.
Star-Lord’s Comic Book Father Is Even Worse Than Ego
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star-Lord’s father is revealed as Ego the Living Planet, charmingly portrayed by Kurt Russell. Ego turns out to be a total jerk and one of the most loathsome villains to ever appear in the MCU. In the comics, Star-Lord’s father is not Ego. Believe it or not, his father is actually a much worse person.
Peter Quill’s comic dad is J’Son, the king of the planet Spartax. Like Ego, J’son also impregnated, abandoned, and later murdered Peter’s mother, but then went on to become the dictator of an entire planet. J’Son is a corrupt and wicked leader who regularly betrays his cosmic allies and refers to human beings as “backwater apes.”
Groot Used To Be A Major Jerk
The Guardians of the Galaxy may be a family, but they’re not a particularly nice family. All of the team’s members are kind of jerks, with the exception of Groot, the MCU’s most adorable character. Groot is pretty chill in the comic books, as well, but it wasn’t always that way. Originally, Groot could speak and he used his voice to declare himself as the “Monarch of Planet X.”
Groot made his debut in Tales to Astonish #13 in 1960, making him one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and he carried dreams of space conquest when he first joined the Guardians. Groot’s personality was similar to Doctor Doom’s, but over time, he lost the ability to say anything other than “I am Groot.” Thus, he eventually lost the attitude, too.
Thanos Has An Incredibly Creepy Brother Who Joined The Avengers
Thanos has several decades worth of comic book history from which to draw evil deeds. Since the MCU has to pick and choose what to include in his limited screen time, one aspect of Thanos’s life from the comics that will likely never appear in the movies is his brother, Starfox. Not only does his sibling share a name with a popular Nintendo character, he also has one of the creepiest power sets in the Marvel Universe.
Starfox has the ability to remotely stimulate a person’s “pleasure centers,” a skill he has used to sleep his way around the galaxy and charm his way onto the Avengers while his brother was busy enslaving planets.
The Destruction Of Xandar Was A Lot More Complete In The Comics
The climax of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film features the team banding together to stop Ronan the Accuser from destroying the planet Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. The Guardians succeed, but not without a high cost, as countless Nova Corps members and innocents are killed on the ground. Xandar was also attacked in the comic books, and its defense was significantly less successful.
At the beginning of Annihilation, Marvel’s 2006 cosmic crossover, Xandar was completely wiped out by Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave, leaving the human Richard Rider as the sole remaining Nova.
The Original Guardians Of The Galaxy Were Formed By Interplanetary Genocide
The audience caught a glimpse of the original comic book Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with Starhawk and his band of Ravagers getting together to “steal some sh*t.” The origins of the band of thieves are still unknown, but their comic book backstory is available for anyone to read, and it sure ain’t pretty.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy comic wasn’t published until 1990, but the team spent the previous two decades popping up in a variety of other books. Debuting in 1969, the story followed a team of heroes in the far-flung future of the year 3000. In that distant millennium, humans had colonized the entire solar system and beyond, but were soon invaded and nearly wiped out by the villainous Badoon race.
The original Guardians were mostly made up of the last remaining survivors of various planetary colonies, banding together in the face of outright genocide.
The Multi-Dimensional Abilisk Is An Homage To The ‘Cancerverse’
In the opening action sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Guardians face off against an Abilisk, described as a multi-dimensional being. The Abilisk is a disgusting creature with bulging eyes, numerous tentacles, and several teeth – and it might be a reference to the “Cancerverse,” a parallel dimension from the comic books in which nothing ever dies. Instead, beings return as corrupted, tentacle-laden creatures.
In the comics, the Guardians venture into the Cancerverse, accompanied by Thanos, to abate its threat, and it ends up costing several members their lives.
Mantis Was Originally A Human Worshipped By The Kree
The comic book history of Mantis is incredibly complex and convoluted, partly because her creator, Steve Englehart, brought her with him to multiple comic publishers. Eventually, Mantis settled down in the Marvel Universe. Mantis’s MCU backstory is unclear, but the comic book version is a German/Vietnamese woman from Earth trained from a young age by Kree priests to be their Celestial Messiah.
In time, Mantis is mind-wiped and brought back to her native Vietnam, where she spends some time as a sex worker before eventually joining the Avengers. Maybe it’s best that her origins remain murky in the movies.
Taserface Is Actually From An Evil Race Empowered By Tony Stark’s Discarded Tech
In a film with many hilarious lines and jokes, nothing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was more ridiculous than Taserface, the would-be leader of the Ravagers. Though Taserface seems like an inane idea from the comedic mind of James Gunn, he’s actually loosely based on a comic book character of the same name.
The comic Taserface, who also does not have the ability to shoot tasers from his face, is a villain from the year 3000 who battles with the original Guardians. This Taserface is a member of the Stark race, a group of antagonistic aliens who have built their society around leftover technology shot into space by Tony Stark a thousand years prior.