It’s now been a whole year since Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot arrived in theaters and delighted kids and adults alike, sparking a fervent fandom around a group of heroes that most people had never even heard of before. Similarly, few had heard of its director and co-writer, James Gunn, whose only prior feature films were indie movies Slither and Super. When the first trailer was released, it seemed as though everyone was lining up to explain why Guardians of the Galaxy could be Marvel Studios’ first flop. Yes, even Screen Rant.

The movie’s colorful characters and upbeat retro soundtrack ended up winning audiences over, and Guardians of the Galaxy went on to become the highest-grossing comic book movie of 2014, and the third highest-grossing movie of the year overall. A sequel, titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is set for release in summer 2017 with Gunn returning to direct, which leaves plenty of time for happy reminiscing about the first movie.

This weekend Gunn took to Facebook to share a piece of Rocket and Groot fan art by AdiFitri and to thank fans for their support and appreciation of the movie. In response, fans used the comments to share recollections of the first time that they saw the movie – including a couple who went to see it on their first date and are still together, and several people who have tattoos of characters from the movie (Rocket and Groot are popular choices).

One year ago today, Guardians of the Galaxy opened up in the U.S. and many places around the world. The movie massively...

Posted by James Gunn on Saturday, 1 August 2015

One of the criticisms commonly leveled at Marvel – particularly in the wake of directors like Edgar Wright and Patty Jenkins leaving projects – is that the studio expects a certain amount of conformity from all its movies, in order to ensure that they all fit neatly together in the same cinematic universe. While it’s true that Marvel movies do tend to have a similar storytelling style, Gunn’s passion for Guardians of the Galaxy and the audience response to it is evidence that there’s still plenty of room for personality.

After such a strong first outing, the next challenge for Gunn will be to create a worthy follow-up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Actor Chris Pratt, who plays Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, has said that the story pitch brought tears to his eyes, and that when Gunn brought it to Marvel there was “no micromanaging of the idea” because the studio “loved it so much that they didn’t have a note for it.” We look forward to reminiscing about that movie in another three years.

Guardians of the Galaxy is available on Blu-ray and DVD now. Ant-Man is currently playing theaters. Captain America: Civil War releases on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019

Source: James Gunn