Michael Rooker’s performance in Guardians of the Galaxy made you laugh; his character’s demise in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brought tears to your eyes. But what do you know about the Yondu Udonta of Marvel Comics? Sure, you could probably guess that he has blue skin and controls an arrow by whistling – like he does in the films – but what else do you know about this decades-old character?
For instance, did you know he was actually a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team? Or that he’s not only from a distant future, but the distant future of a different Marvel reality than the main continuity you’re familiar with? If you consider yourself a Marvel fan, you’ve got to check out these fun facts and surprising details. Just scroll on down to learn about this futuristic alien from Centauri-IV.
He Was A Member Of The Original Guardians Of The Galaxy
Though Yondu was an antagonist in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and had nothing to do with that team’s lineup, the character was actually a member of the original version of the team, introduced way back in 1969’s Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (that’s him with the bow and arrows on the far right). Along with the awesome, vaguely futuristically named lineup of Vance Astro, Charlie-27, and Martinex, Yondu routinely fought against the Badoon and protected the galaxy from evil on a regular basis.
With the newer incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy becoming bona fide superstars with their own film franchise, theme park rides, and mounds upon mounds of merchandise, this Guardians team become known in recent years as “Guardians 3000” or the “Guardians of Infinity.” In the hearts of the true believers, though, these Guardians of the Galaxy will always be the heroes they think of first when they hear that name.
He Is From The Far-Flung Future Of The 31st Century
If your only experience with the Guardians characters is their representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might be surprised to learn that the original Yondu is not from the present but the future. And not the near-future, but the distant future of the 31st century. That’s the kind of time jump that would make Kang the Conqueror proud.
Of course, Yondu and his Guardian buddies being from the 31st century doesn’t really jibe with Marvel Comics’ whole thing of being a vast connected universe where characters run into each other all the time. Therefore, there’s a lot of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey shenanigans when it comes to the Guardians’ dealings over the years. Time travel is a frequent tool writers have used to bring the original Guardians into contact with modern-day heroes.
He Is Not From The Main Marvel Continuity Of Earth-616
As shown in the successful animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the Marvel multiverse is made up of numerous realities with endless possibilities offering the creative minds who come up with the stories we know and love ample freedom to realize their respective visions. These various realities are identified as different numbered “Earths,” with that of the main Marvel Comics continuity being known as “Earth-616.”
Yondu and the rest of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team are not actually from the same universe as the main comics’ heroes. These spacefaring protectors are from the Marvel Universe of Earth-691, and while there isn’t much to say about this universe outside of it not being main continuity, it is the native reality of niche Marvel fan-favorite Killraven. In fact, with both Killraven and the Guardians of the Galaxy originating from Earth-691, you could say that reality is one diehard fans have a great affinity for.
He Is A Member Of The Zatoan Tribe Of Centauri-IV
As if being from a planet called “Centauri-IV” weren’t unique enough, Yondu is a member of the Zatoan tribe of that planet. According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-to-Z Update #3, the Zatoan tribe was a group of isolationists who retreated from their ancestral forests and migrated to less hospitable lands when the humans of Earth established a colony on their planet.
Why would they do such a thing, you ask? Well, these open-minded and trusting people merely wanted “to avoid contact with humanity, regarding aliens and their technology as impure.” While Yondu was initially mistrustful of Vance Astro upon meeting him, the two slowly became friends, and the blue-skinned hero learned the error of his people’s ways.
He Has An ‘Empathic’ Sixth Sense
In addition to having blue skin and a really rad red fin (or “crest”) on the top of his head, the Yondu of the comics has a supernatural ability that helps him stand out from the crowd (as if he didn’t already). Yondu’s Zatoan tribe is filled with “natural mystics” who have a sixth sense of sorts, which allows the Zatoans to form empathic links with any living being.
This is more than merely being able to sense the intentions of others, however. As the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-to-Z Update #3 explains, Yondu “can soothe people in emotional or physical pain, calming them in a quasi-hypnotic fashion, sometimes enough to induce sleep.” At times, Yondu can project a vision of himself into someone else’s mind.
His Special Arrows Are Made Of Yaka Metal
MCU fans will surely be familiar with Yondu’s sound-controlled arrows. Seeing the character whistle his arrow around a battlefield provided one of the most memorable images in all of the MCU. Yondu’s arrows are made from Yaka metal, which is native only to his planet, and the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-to-Z Update #3 explains that Yondu’s “four-octave range” enhances his ability to control the arrows.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn changed Yondu from the comics in multiple ways, but one of the most memorable alterations is the way the MCU version uses his Yaka metal arrows. Instead of having the character use a bow to shoot his arrows, as is traditional in his comic book depictions, Gunn made the choice to just have him whistle the arrow from his hip. It makes sense considering Yondu can control arrows midair with his whistling – and it looks a lot cooler.
He And The Guardians Fly Around In A Starship Named After Captain America
Steve Rogers is pretty great, isn’t he? Who doesn’t love everyone’s favorite star-spangled man with a plan? The original Guardians certainly seem to like the guy, given that they named their spaceship after him. And this is centuries after he was thawed out of the ice!
And here’s the catch: There has been more than one Starship Captain America. Sure, the Guardians also traveled in a ship called Freedom’s Lady, but when you’ve flown around the universe in more than one ship christened the Starship Captain America, we know where your heart lies. In all honesty, this is reminiscent of Geralt of Rivia always naming whatever horse he has “Roach.”
He Has Teamed Up With Heroes Like Thor, Captain America, And The Thing
One of the major selling points of Marvel Comics – and something it exploits to no end with its nearly constant crossover events – is that all the heroes of their various books reside in the same universe, which opens up the possibility of them running into each other at any time. Placing the Guardians of the Galaxy in the 31st century, and in a different reality, makes this harder to accomplish.
But these are comic books after all, so the Guardians, including Yondu, have teamed up with some of Marvel’s more famous heroes over the years. They’ve fought the Badoon with Captain America and the Thing, helped the Defenders defeat Eelar, and teamed up with Thor to put up a fight against Korvac. For denizens of a different time and place, they’ve certainly gotten around in Earth-616 without much trouble.
He And The Guardians Came Into Conflict With An Alien Race That Worships Tony Stark
It’s hard to believe anyone worships Tony Stark more than Tony Stark himself, and yet here we are, discussing an alien race that worships the man. How did this come to pass? Well, the Tony Stark of Earth-691 ended up shooting a rocket full of his technology into space, where it crash-landed on an alien planet. The primitive race of aliens on that planet would end up studying the mysterious technology and basing its entire culture around it.
These aliens, calling themselves the Stark, eventually began conquering other planets, using up all known resources in order to create their own versions of Tony Stark’s suits. Unsurprisingly, the Guardians of the Galaxy could not stand for this – it is their job to, you know, guard the galaxy – and they ended up in conflict with the Iron Man-loving race of ne’er-do-wells.
He Makes A Blink-And-You’ll-Miss-It Cameo In ‘JLA/Avengers’
JLA/Avengers is the kind of thing you’d expect only to happen in the dreams of serious comic book nerds. No matter how you feel about the overall quality of the storytelling and execution in this DC-Marvel crossover series, you can’t deny the coolness factor of seeing the most famous superheroes in the history of the medium coming together in the pages of one series.
Of course, being major comic book fans themselves, the talented team of writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Pérez packed the series full of so many characters, it’s hard to even parse out how many appear over the course of the four issues. Just look at the image up there! That is an image, housed in a real comic book, that stars Mister Miracle, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Yondu, and Kilowog, among numerous other heroes.
He Was Involved In The ‘Paradise X’ Limited Series
Paradise X is an early-2000s limited series that serves as the final chapter in Alex Ross and Jim Krueger’s “Earth X” trilogy of stories. It’s a complicated, weaving tale set in the future of Earth-9997, where Death is dead, meaning no one can die. Seems like a paradise, yeah? Not so much. Imagine human beings being ravaged by cancer, to the point of death, and being stuck in that state forever. Unending agony is the final, permanent state for all.
This series, which involved the original Guardians of the Galaxy team, hops all over the place and includes heroes from many different Marvel realities. We’re talking the Wolverine from the “Days of Future Past” storyline, a futuristic Iron Man from Earth-8410, and the Spider-Girl of Earth-1122. A lot of things happen, so it’s kind of impossible to sum up, but any series that travels to a reality in which Reed Richards is president and Spider-Man joins the Fantastic Four for good – Earth-1123 – is okay in our book.
He And The Original Guardians Teamed With The New Guardians To Stop Korvac From Dismantling Time
Following the somewhat unexpected success of the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy film, it was only a matter of time before the original Guardians teamed up with the newer, more well-known incarnation. This happened in the late 2014 series Guardians 3000; the two ragtag groups of misfit heroes coalesced about as well as you’d imagine.
They eventually worked everything out, though, but it was all for nought. The end of this series led straight into Marvel’s line-wide crossover series Secret Wars, which brought the entire Marvel multiverse to an end. It eventually got put back together, but still, universe-ending stuff was happening there for a while!
He Met His Ancestor – Based On The MCU’s Yondu – In A Self-Titled Limited Series
An Earth-616 version of Yondu that more closely resembles the character from the MCU was first introduced in 2016’s Star-Lord #1. This version of the character got thrown together with the original version of the character, as the Earth-691 Yondu was sent back in time in order to protect the new Yondu and save “the fate of the entire Centaurian race” during the 2020 miniseries Yondu.
Just how it is possible that this new Earth-616 is somehow the ancestor of not only the original Yondu but all of the Centaurian race that exists in a different reality? Suffice it to say, comic books are weird. Continuity is always shifting. It helps to not think about it too much.
The Original Yondu Perished Saving His Ancestor, Leaving The Updated Incarnation As The Only Surviving Version
In a solid piece of housecleaning that’s sure to rub classic Guardians fans the wrong way, the original Yondu actually ended up losing his life while protecting the new version of the character, leaving that new incarnation as the only one still alive in the pages of Marvel Comics. It’s hard to say if he’s actually gone forever, as people get resurrected in all sorts of ways in the medium, but it was a somewhat unexpected turn of events.
On one hand, it updates the comics to include a more familiar version of Yondu that many people would recognize from the two Guardians of the Galaxy films. On the other hand, it gets rid of a character that has been around for more than half a century. We’ll leave it to fans to decide if Marvel made the right choice on this one.