The Comic-Con trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy revealed to an excited audience that the titular heroes are, in the opinion of some at least, “a bunch of a-holes.” For those who haven’t read the comics, however, this assessment doesn’t give too much away, and with such a strange and diverse cast of characters coming together in what might be Marvel Studios’ oddest movie yet, it’s worth trying to get to know them a little better.

Though two of the cast members are still (officially) unconfirmed, Guardians of the Galaxy now has actors pencilled in for every role. Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt, who underwent an impressive training regime to get into shape, will play Peter Quill AKA Star Lord. Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) also changed quite dramatically for the film, shaving her head entirely to play the space pirate, Nebula. Zoe Saldana (Avatar) is going green as Gamora, as is Dave Bautista for the role of Drax the Destroyer. Vin Diesel (Riddick) is strongly rumored to be voicing anthropomorphic tree Groot, and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) is in talks to do the same for the small-but-deadly Rocket Raccoon.

With the crew more or less assembled, director James Gunn has already started filming Guardians of the Galaxy in London (we’ve seen the set photos to prove it), and Marvel “puppet master” Kevin Feige has offered a few more details about our new heroes. Speaking to Empire Magazine, Feige gave a brief profile for each of the main characters, and also for the villains:

“They are an unlikely band. It’s pure circumstance that brings them all together throughout the course of the movie. Rocket has been genetically and mechanically altered, he’s an experiment from one part of the galaxy.

“Groot is a species that happens to look like trees look, and is quite communicative if you can understand the different inflections in the way he says, ‘I am Groot.’

“Peter Quill left Earth in the mid ’80s, but when we meet back up with him he’s very much a citizen of the universe.

“Drax has one goal and one goal only, which is to kill Ronan because of a past tragedy.

“When we meet Gamora, she’s a bad guy working with Ronan and Nebula and Korath, and by extension for Thanos. Gamora doesn’t necessarily like doing that anymore, and tries to find a new path for herself. But she has a reputation as the deadliest woman in the galaxy, [so] people aren’t greeting her with open arms.

“Ronan The Accuser is very much the main bad guy. And Thanos is lurking above it all. You will learn more about Thanos in Guardians, for sure. Certainly you’ll get more than the one turn around and smirk. You’ll get much more than that!”

A turn around and a smirk was all that fans got at the end of The Avengers, in which it was revealed that Thanos has a hand in Loki’s attempted takeover of Earth. The message coming from Marvel producers and directors at the moment is that Thanos is going to be teased repeatedly throughout Phase Two, but probably won’t become a primary antagonist until Phase Three. Director Joss Whedon has explained that the villain of The Avengers 2 will be Ultron rather than Thanos because, “Thanos was never meant to be the next villain. He’s always been the overlord of villainy & darkness.”

Vin Diesel fans might be disappointed to hear that, if officially cast, the Fast & Furious star will probably only get to say “I am Groot,” which is Groot’s trademark phrase – and indeed the only phrase he ever utters – in the comics. His suitability to the role, however, can be seen in the 1999 animated film The Iron Giant, in which Diesel also played an otherworldly character with a very limited vocabulary, and did a fine job of it.

Unlike the Avengers, who are approached because they are considered to be Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Feige’s description of the Guardians gives the impression that they are brought together as a band of outcasts who don’t quite fit in anywhere else. Sounds like an excellent recipe for a team, and it’s always fun to see characters from very different backgrounds all flung together.

Which character in Guardians of the Galaxy are you most excited to see brought to life on the big screen?

Guardians of the Galaxy arrives in theaters on August 1st, 2014.

Source: Empire Magazine (via Screen Crush)