One of the biggest surprises of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the inclusion of a different team of Guardians, led by Sylvester Stallone’s character, Stakar, known in the comic books as Starhawk. This was a fun treat for fans of the original Guardians, but possibly less exciting for anyone unfamiliar with the background of these colorful characters.
The Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in Marvel Super Heroes #18 in 1969. The main team featured in most of the Guardians’ appearances consists of Vance Astro, Yondu, Charlie-27, Martinex, Starhawk, Aleta Ogord, and Nikki. Only two of these characters, Astro and Nikki, were left out of the movie. Two other Guardians who appeared in the film—Mainframe and Krugarr—appeared almost exclusively in the Guardians of the Galaxy series in the 1990s, making it hard even for Marvel’s most diehard comic fans to recognize them.
The original Guardians of the Galaxy are an obscure but fun part of the Marvel Universe. Their history is filled with wild adventures, crazy characters, comedy, and great storytelling. If James Gunn or anyone else at Marvel plans to do more with Stakar’s old team, there’s plenty of material to work with.
15. One of their greatest enemies is a descendant of Wolverine
Throughout their adventures, the original Guardians of the Galaxy have accumulated a rogues gallery full of new, crazy villains like Malevolence and Taserface, but none of these characters have been a thorn in their side as much as Rancor, a 5th generation descendant of Wolverine. She was the ruler of Haven, a planet that had been colonized centuries ago by the X-Men and hundreds of other mutants. Her world was a place where mutants were the oppressors rather than the victims. However, by the time of her rule there were only eight mutants left to serve her. Most of the mutant population died off due to a lack of mutant children.
Rancor’s rule was soon opposed by the Guardians. She clashed with the Guardians multiple times, but each time she managed to escape. She also started a partnership with Doctor Doom that went sour when she discovered that Doom had killed Wolverine, and implanted his consciousness into her ancestor’s adamantium skeleton.
When Rancor failed to take her revenge on Doom, she gave up and decided it was time for her to have an heir. She assaulted Talon, an Inhuman member of the Guardians, and gave birth to a child named Talogan.
14. Yondu is completely different from the movie version of the character
When we meet Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, we see a space pirate with questionable morals leading a group of criminals. If you were to read the comics, you’d discover a strikingly different Yondu, a noble savage with a strict code of honor and an undying appreciation for nature.
Yondu’s association with the Guardians of the Galaxy began on his home planet of Alpha Centauri IV when his prayer was interrupted by a human named Vance Astro. The interruption caused Yondu to attack Astro in a blind rage. Astro talked him down, and after the two formed an alliance, what followed was the beginning of the 31st century’s greatest superhero team, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
As a Guardian, Yondu often uses his mystical connection to nature to the team’s advantage. Over time, Yondu has formed a strong bond with his teammates. But above all, Yondu follows his heart and his love for his god, Anthos.
13. Star-Lord’s Guardians “borrowed” their name from the original Guardians
After defending the universe from two powerful threats, Star-Lord thought it would be a good idea if he put together a team of powerful heroes who could protect the galaxy from the next threat before it started. After assembling a team, they found a man frozen in ice. When he thawed out, they saw that he was carrying the shield of Captain America. He introduced himself as Vance Astro. Apparently, he had been displaced in time and had few memories of his past. One of the only things he knew about himself was that he was a member of a group called the Guardians of the Galaxy.
12. The original Guardians are based in an alternate timeline set in the 31st century
In the world of the original Guardians, Earth’s superheroes were wiped out during the War of the Worlds when the Martians invaded. Control of the Earth changed hands several times over the next few centuries with the planet eventually falling under the dominion of the Badoon.
Vance Astro, Yondu, Martinex, and Charlie-27 were prisoners of the Badoon who escaped their captors and fled to outer space. Believing it would be impossible to take the Earth back with just four people, they decided to explore the spaceways until they had the means to drive out their alien conquerors.
The world occupied by the Guardians of the Galaxy is an insane and dark future, yet none of it is set in stone for the mainstream universe. Their timeline diverged from the primary timeline when Vance Astro traveled back in time to stop his younger self from becoming an astronaut. When his interference caused young Astro to access his mutant ability sooner than he was supposed to, it created a new timeline full of new possibilities.
11. The Guardians are honorary Avengers
Many fans consider “The Korvac Saga” to be one of the greatest Avengers stories of all time. If anything, it was certainly one of the toughest battles in Avengers history. But before the Avengers became a part of Korvac’s story, he was an enemy of the Guardians who traveled back in time from the future to the 20th century. The Guardians followed him through the timestream, believing that his intention was to murder Vance Astro’s younger, which would stop the Guardians from ever defeating him. However, Korvac’s true goal was to destroy time which would stop people from aging.
The Guardians explained the problem to the Avengers, who agreed to help them fight Korvac. Korvac, having stolen some of the Power Cosmic from Galactus, was nearly indestructible. The combined forces of the Avengers and the Guardians were no match for him, and most of them were killed right away. Thor and Moondragon were the only ones left standing at the end.
Suddenly realizing that Galactus was about to wipe him out of existence with the Ultimate Nullifier, Korvac felt pity for the fallen heroes and brought them back to life seconds before destroying his body and sending his essence elsewhere.
10. The Guardians are a group of misfits
One of the themes of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is that Star-Lord and his friends are a band of misfits and outcasts who become family. The original Guardians may be a completely different team, but this is certainly a characteristic that both groups share. When the four original Guardians came together, they couldn’t have been more different from each other.
Yondu was a spiritual savage who despised technology, Charlie-27 was a muscle-bound marine from Jupiter, Martinex was a scientist composed of silicon crystal, and Vance Astro was an astronaut from the 20th century. Given their varying backgrounds and experiences, their viewpoints often clashed. Astro regarded Yondu’s spiritual insight as “mumbo jumbo,” causing the two to quarrel, though the two eventually became best friends. Since Martinex was often seen as the voice of reason, he was chosen as the leader.
The team was later joined by Starhawk, a mysterious Arcturian mutant who shared the same physical space with his wife, Aleta Ogord. His secretive nature drove a wedge between him and his teammates, which resulted in constant conflict. The one person who was able to get the team to lighten up was Nikki, an alien girl with flaming hair and a fun-loving, rebellious personality.
9. Vance Astro is their “Star-Lord”
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord is the only human in a group full of aliens, making him the story’s window character into a bizarre world. For the original Guardians, that character is Vance Astro, a 20th century astronaut who had dreamed of the stars since he was a boy. He volunteered for a program that sent him into space to explore a new planet. The downside was that it was a thousand-year journey.
Since scientists weren’t able to perfectly replicate the process that allowed Captain America to survive decades in ice, they had to encase him in a copper-alloy suit that preserved his body while he slept. Astro can never take off the suit because if his skin is exposed to the air his body will deteriorate instantly. Astro had no choice but to accept that the suit would remain his prison forever.
While Astro and Star-Lord have accepted their roles as Guardians, there are some things they can never let go. Whereas Star-Lord continues to feel connected to his mother through ’70s music, Astro holds onto his memories of Earth by having his room converted into a replica of his childhood bedroom, complete with a Captain America comforter set and other memorabilia of his favorite hero.
8. Starhawk shared a body with his wife, Aleta Ogord
If there’s any character more extraordinary than a talking tree or a raccoon with a machine gun, it’s Starhawk, a powerful mutant who’s been shrouded in mystery since the moment he joined the team.
The Guardians were shocked when they discovered that trapped within Starhawk’s mind was his wife, a beautiful woman named Aleta Ogord. Aleta and Starhawk were merged into one person when the Hawk God imbued them with super powers and made it so that only one of them could occupy the same physical space. Starhawk chose to remain in control and only let Aleta out when he had to. This, on top of other tragedies, caused Aleta to develop a deep hatred for her husband.
The demon lord Mephisto secretly used his power to split Aleta and Starhawk into two beings. Aleta was free to end their marriage and find happiness with the man she loved, Vance Astro. Meanwhile, Starhawk grew weak without Aleta. When he reabsorbed her without her permission, Starhawk was expelled from the Guardians.
Aleta had enjoyed her freedom too much to give it up and managed to retake control from Starhawk. The Hawk God put an end to this by splitting them apart again, allowing Aleta to finally be with Astro again.
7. The Guardians battled an alien race called the Stark
When the Earth was invaded by Mars, Tony Stark fell into a deep depression and once again succumbed to alcoholism. His drinking led him to make what had to be the worst decision of his life: he sent a collection of his suits into outer space so that the Martians wouldn’t find them. Instead, they were found by a different alien race. The savages that found his armor used them as weapons of war to conquer other worlds. In honor of their benefactor, they named their race “The Stark.”
The Stark soon came into conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy. With each Stark wearing Iron Man armor, the army of alien savages was a deadly force that nearly killed several of their members. The most powerful of the Stark, Taserface, was almost too much for them. They were saved by the intervention of Firelord, a former Herald of Galactus.
6. Vance Astro wielded Captain America’s shield
It was said in The Avengers that Agent Coulson had a full set of Captain America trading cards. If Vance Astro exists anywhere in the MCU, we’re betting he has the same set. Astro idolizes Cap and keeps a collection of his action figures, photographs, and other memorabilia in his room aboard their ship, the Captain America. Cap served as a role model during his boyhood and continues to inspire him when he’s fighting alongside his teammates as a Guardian of the Galaxy. When faced with a dilemma, Astro simply asks himself the question: “What would Cap do?”
When Astro and Yondu discovered that Captain America’s shield still exists in the 31st century, Astro and the Guardians went on a quest to retrieve it. It turned out that the shield was in the possession of the Vision, who was waiting for the right person to come looking for it. After proving themselves worthy in battle, Astro took up the shield and became “Major Victory.”
5. They battled an army of criminals devoted to the Punisher
The Guardians helped the resistance liberate the Earth from the Badoon. Several years later, they returned to find the people of Earth fighting a new battle. This time, they were threatened by a street gang called the Punishers. The Punishers were formed by young men and women who discovered videos of the original Punisher. They amassed an army of youths to spread chaos across Manhattan. Inspired by Frank Castle’s history of violence, the Punishers became the most ruthless army on Earth.
When the Guardians got involved in the fight, they learned that the Punishers were being backed by the Badoon. The Badoon had been supplying them with weaponry so advanced that they could blast through adamantium.
With the help of the Inhuman known as Talon, a future version of Wonder Man, and the Sorcerer Supreme of the 31st century, Krugarr, the Guardians were able to defeat the Punishers and their alien allies.
4. Martinex formed the Galactic Guardians
When Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Yondu, and Nikki elected to stay on Earth to help fight the Punishers, Martinex surprised them all by announcing that he was leaving the planet without them. Martinex shared a vision of the Guardians following in the footsteps of the Avengers, who had formed several branches to protect different regions of the country.
Martinex traveled to Mainframe’s planet and together they gathered a group of the Guardians’ allies. They enlisted the Spirit of Vengeance, the 31st century incarnation of Ghost Rider. They recruited Giraud, the new host of the Phoenix Force, Firelord, and Hollywood, a future version of Wonder Man. Replica, a female Skrull and former member of the Guardians, also joined the team.
Calling themselves the Galactic Guardians, this group of heroes led by Martinex helped defeat Dormannu and saved the world from a villain called Ubiquiter.
3. They fought Doctor Octopus (and their doppelgangers) during Infinity War
During the “Infinity War” event, the Guardians were on Earth in the 20th century when they decided to pay a visit to Avengers Mansion, completely unaware of the fact that the Avengers were off-world fighting the Magus. But they weren’t the only uninvited guests at Avengers Mansion. Doctor Octopus soon arrived with a new Masters of Evil. He had only assembled 2nd-tier villains because it was his opinion that they would be easier to control than a more powerful group.
Doctor Octopus wanted to stage a hostile takeover of Avengers Mansion but the Guardians of the Galaxy stood in their way. One of his minions, Yellowjacket, switched sides, but even then the Masters of Evil had an advantage in numbers. Before any winner could be determined, both teams were attacked by their evil doppelgangers created by the Magus. The Masters of Evil had no choice but to team up with the Guardians to defeat them all. When it was over, Doctor Octopus planned to take advantage of the Guardians’ weakened state but the villains refused and turned on their boss.
In the aftermath of the battle, Yellowjacket hitched a ride with the Guardians and became a full-time member of the group.
2. The Guardians and Doctor Strange fought a Captain Universe Badoon
After returning to the 20th century, Starhawk, Nikki, Talon, and Charlie-27 concocted a plan to launch a pre-emptive strike on the Badoon. Their intention was to eliminate the enemy before it could conquer their worlds in the future. The team’s current leader, Vance Astro, was vehemently opposed to annihilating an entire civilization but they refused to listen to him. The Guardians took the ship and left without him to attack the Badoon homeworld. Astro was troubled by his decision to let the Guardians leave without him and recruited Doctor Strange to take him to the Badoon homeworld.
The Guardians’ greatest opposition was a Badoon that had been transformed by the Uni-Power into Captain Universe. The Uni-Power is a cosmic force that exists to protect reality, meaning that it perceived the Guardian’s mission as a threat to the universe.
The Captain Universe Badoon easily overpowered Charlie-27, who was saved by Astro and Doctor Strange. The only Guardian who had the means to hurt him was Aleta Ogord. Aleta and Strange combined their powers to take him down. When the battle was over, Doctor Strange exorcized the power from the Badoon’s body.
1. The original Guardians appeared in a crossover with Star-Lord’s team
In the limited series Guardians 3000, the original team was caught in a disturbance in the timestream which caused the Guardians to relive the same war with the Badoon over and over again. Other events from their pasts were erased while others were jumbled. They found out from Galactus that time was collapsing.
The Guardians followed the source of the problem to the 20th century where they encountered Star-Lord’s team of Guardians. After a brief period of understandable confusion over both teams sharing the same name, the two groups worked together to stop time from collapsing. They realized that the person behind it all was the original Guardians’ old enemy, Michael Korvac. Korvac was trying to dismantle time so that he could remake the universe into a perfect world. Yondu killed him with an arrow to the head, only to find out that reality was about to end anyway due to Marvel’s “Time Runs Out” event.
The original Guardians next appeared in a new version of The Korvac Saga as part of the “Secret Wars” event.