Marvel’s curveball space adventure is finally with us, and as is the way of these things, people are already talking about the next one. Few details have yet been revealed about James Gunn’s developing sequel, but here are a few thoughts on possible future movie affiliates for Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.
The Guardians just unleashed in cinemas were based on characters from Marvel’s 2008 reboot by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, but the franchise itself dates back to a whole other team from 1969. Created by Arnold Drake and legendary Marvel artist Gene Colan, the original issues gave us psychokinetic mutant astronaut Vance “Major Victory” Astro; the silicon-bodied Plutonian Martinex T’Naga; and the hulking Charlie-27 from the planet Jupiter. Later on they picked up the heat-immune Nikki Gold from Mercury; and the Arcturan godling Stakar of the House of Ogord, otherwise known as Starhawk. One further original member, Yondu Udonta, appears in the movie played by Michael Rooker. So maybe there’s scope for introducing or flashing back to further predecessors in future instalments, particularly given the timey-wimey shenanigans of the comics.
Warlock actually predates the original Guardians by a couple of years, dreamed up by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1967 for a Fantastic Four outing (which may make things difficult for Marvel Studios, as Fox owns the right to Mr. Fantastic and company). Roy Thomas and Gil Kane then took him over and ran with him, repurposing the artificial, scientist-created “perfect human” as a sort of cosmic messiah. He has his own Soul Gem, which allows him to trap the souls of others, and he’s a regular annoyance to a certain Thanos, who once wounded Warlock so gravely that he had to live in his own gem for decades to recuperate. Hate when that happens. He teamed up with the modern Guardians for the Annihilation: Conquest saga, where he reinvented himself as The Magus, wielder of “quantum magic”. After a complex series of resurrections and allegiance shifts he ended up in a cocoon, much like the one The Collector has at the end of Thor: The Dark World…
Created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck for The Avengers during the ‘70s, Mantis is a half Vietnamese and half German martial artist, raised by a sect of the alien Kree (they of the Kree-Skrull War) and eventually turning out to be The Celestial Madonna, in which form she became a massive pop star and married Guy Ritchie. No, wait, that’s not right. Like Adam Warlock, she hooks up with the modern Guardians during Annihilation: Conquest, where she’s rescued from a Kree prison by Peter Quill and becomes the Guardians’ counsellor, like a cosmic Deanna Troi. She’s also involved in the events of the Age Of Ultron comics storyline, making her a strong potential for cross-Marvel movie appearances.
The first Quasar was Wendell Vaughn, originally introduced in 1978 as Marvel Boy, with the power to fly, create solid objects from light, manipulate energy and teleport. By 2004 though, the mantle had been taken over by Phyla-Vell, the artificially created offspring of Captain Mar-Vell, and brother of the occasionally insane Genis-Vell. She teamed up with Peter Quill and Nova against the alien overlord Annihilus and his cosmic rod, and later goes questing with Drax. She makes some critical errors in the fight against Thanos and also comes off badly against Adam Warlock in his Magus guise.
Eugene Thompson started life as a Spider-Man villain: or rather, he’s one of the high-school jocks that bullies Peter Parker (the “Flash” nickname would seem to be in homage to Harry Flashman from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, who went on to his own series of infamies in George MacDonald Frasier’s humorous historical Flashman novels). After school he joined the military, fought in ‘Nam, became a depressive and an alcoholic and went to work for Norman Osborne. Among many other misadventures, he became Agent Venom, dealing with the same symbiote as Eddie Brock, but rather differently. He’s possibly a more likely inclusion in Sony’s Spider-Man series then, but in the comics he does gain a connection with both The Guardians and The Avengers, pegged by the latter as an envoy for the former. So he could potentially constitute an earth-bound link between the two movie franchises.
Angela started out as Neil Gaiman’s contribution to Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comics: a bounty-hunting angel working for Heaven as a thorn in Spawn’s hellbound side. She remained on the Image Comics roster until some acrimony over rights ownership that saw Gaiman regain control of her. Soon after, he sold her to Marvel, where, after some retconning, she eventually became Thor’s sister. She shows up towards the end of Age Of Ultron as the result of some damage to the universe, and starts out attacking Earth, only to be intercepted by The Guardians. She became a full Guardian last year, alongside Flash Thompson.
James Gunn revealed recently that Bug was in a previous draft of the Guardians movie, so it’s not beyond the realms of the fantastical that he’d show up in future. Originally one of the Micronauts, he’s an insectoid alien master thief with heightened sensory awareness and exceptional sight and agility. Being a bug, he can also wall-crawl. He was drafted into The Guardians by Rocket Racoon during the Shi’ar-Kree war (those Kree are always at war with someone), and has been a sporadic member ever since, right up to the current series by Brian Michael Bendis and Steven McNiven.
Cosmo is essentially a happier answer to the question “What happened to Laika?” A test dog for the Soviet Space Programme in the ‘60s, he was fired off into orbit, but drifted and mutated, eventually landing himself a job as Chief of Security on the Knowhere space station, like a sort of blue collar V-Ger. He first encountered Nova, before joining the Guardians in a temporary détente with Thanos to combine forces against crazy Lord Mar-Vell. He eventually started his own Guardians offshoot with The Silver Surfer (who we haven’t included in this list because he’s still at Fox with the Fantastic Four), alien Thor-horse Beta Ray Bill, and others. He’s a powerful telepath and telekinetic, with a nifty sideline in psionic blasts. We've actually met him already - keep your eyes open through the movie and stay for the end credits - so time will tell if his role gets expanded. Yes, he’s a dog, but we’ve already got a talking racoon. Outlandishness is relative.
Heather Douglas’ identity is closely tied up with Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista in the film), since Drax is her dead father, his soul transferred into a new body by Thanos’ father Mentor and the Titan God Kronos. Heather herself was adopted by Mentor and raised on Titan, after the Thanos-based accident that apparently killed both her parents. Taken in hand by the space monks of Shao-Lom, she grows up to be an intimidating amazon with a shaved head: a martial arts expert, telekinetic, master geneticist and sexual gymnast. Daredevil, Thor, Phyla-Vell and perky redhead detective Marlo Chandler have been among her bisexual romantic dalliances. Initially hanging out with Cosmo and Phyla on the Knowhere station, she’s since become a Guardians field agent.
“I know a lot of where I want to go,” said James Gunn at Comic-Con last week. “I have a lot of ideas for stories and characters that are going to appear, and there are documents written up, that some people have, about Peter Quill's father…” So it seems we can expect to be introduced to J’Son Of Spartax at some point in the not too distant future. Not one of the Guardians himself, J’son was the Emperor of the Spartol Empire, who crash-landed on Earth on his way to battle the Ariguans. While he was there, he fell in love with Meredith Quill, but wiped her memory of him when he set off back to space. Men, eh? After his departure she gave birth to Peter, the future Star-Lord, who would eventually grow up to meet his father and be offered the Emperorship himself. Is some version of this story on the cards? We’ll find out on July 28, 2017.