Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
After months of waiting, Marvel movie season has officially begun with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Thanks to the smash success of the first film and the increased profile the core characters have had, anticipation for the sequel to James Gunn’s 2014 cosmic romp has been high. And whether they're fans of sci-fi, comedy, comics, or all of the above, moviegoers are eager to catch up with Marvel’s most lovable rogues and watch them save the galaxy from new threats.
It’s not just returning faces, however, as much of the appeal of the film is the new characters who will be joining the MCU. And while characters like Ego and Mantis have been highlighted throughout the marketing of the film, a number of new additions have remained a secret.
Last year, word broke that Sylvester Stallone was involved in the film in some way. His cameo remained under wraps, however, though Gunn began hinting his role would be important in the future. From there, both Michael Rosenbaum and Miley Cyrus were confirmed to have cameos. With so many known characters, the mystery of the cameos became a perplexing one as fans tried to work out how they could all be squeezed into the movie. With the film’s debut, though, we finally know how each of these actors and their character’s fit together, and what their roles might be in the future of Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Stakar and the Ravagers
It always seemed a little odd that a performer of Stallone’s acclaim would merely play a one-off character in a cameo, so it’s fitting that his appearance as Stakar Ogord — better known in the comics as Starhawk — is more fleshed out than a simple walk-on. When we first meet Stakar, we quickly learn he's the head of another Ravager faction and well-respected amongst the organization. A rift formed between his and Yondu’s group, however, based on the latter apparently trafficking in children. While we eventually learn Yondu was guilty of this in a sense, he chose to stop as soon as he learned the truth about Ego’s children.
Accompanying Stakar is the crystal-skinned Martinex, played by Michael Rosenbaum. Following his tenure as Lex Luthor on Smallville, it’s exciting to see the actor back in a comic book role, even if he’s unrecognizable. Following the scene on Contraxia, Stakar and his band don’t return until the denouement of the film, where Yondu is given a fireworks-filled funeral as the other Ravager factions appear upon learning of his last act of heroism. When they do, we get quick cuts to other groups led by Ving Rhames as Charlie-27 and Michelle Yeoh as Aleta Ogord.
From there, they reappear one last time in the second of five post-credits scenes, where it’s established that they used to all be a band of thieves together. We then meet Mainframe, the little robot head voiced by Miley Cyrus, and Krugarr, the CG character who gives the quadruple thumbs up.
Given the star-power of those involved and their prominent placement throughout the film, it’s clear that their declaration at the end of the tag means they’ll be back to cause trouble for the MCU. And while it’s not clear which film we’ll see them in next, it’s a safe bet they’ll be back, likely to help our heroes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But why would this band of thieves be interested in protecting the galaxy? For that answer, it’s best to look to the comics.
The Original Guardians of the Galaxy
With the announcement of Guardians 3, our hopes soared for the introduction of more original Guardians following Yondu’s rework. We never could have guessed, however, that so many of them would actually appear in this year’s film. There have been a lot of iterations of the Guardians over the years, and long before Rocket, Gamora, and the others, Stakar and most of his gang were running the show.
Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the original Guardians premiered in 1969’s Marvel Super-Heroes #18. Among them were the crystal-skinned Martinex from the planet Pluto, the bruiser Charlie-27 from Jupiter, and Yondu Udonta (who was more of a traditional archer and rocked a massive head-fin). Leading them was Major Vance Astro, who has yet to appear in the MCU, with Stakar, his step-sister/wife Aleta (it’s complicated), and Nikki—another character absent so far—joining soon after the group premiered.
Over the years, a lot of members came and went on the team. Mainframe, an alternative-reality version of the Vision from the future, and Krugarr, a snake-like former apprentice of Doctor Strange, joined up in the early ‘90s. Thanks to the short appearance of each of the characters, it’s not clear how much has changed from the page to the screen, but some tweaks are obvious.
While Charlie-27 and Martinex look fairly faithful to the comics—minus Charlie’s weird Juggernaut cosplay from the page—it’s unlikely they’ll hail from so close to Earth. Stakar and Aleta, meanwhile, barely look like their comic counterparts aside from the former’s shoulder lights. They also don’t appear to have flight and energy powers, judging by their relatively grounded look and life as thieves. Mainframe, meanwhile, is usually shown as a face on a screen, so a voice in a robot head isn’t much of a stretch; Krugarr, on the other hand, has essentially been completely reimagined as an android.
The other key difference is that the Guardians of the comics are the opposite of criminals. In fact, they’re even more heroic than the main movie Guardians. Essentially galactic Avengers from the far future, the Guardians save the universe time and time again. So while their rebranding as a guild of rogues is an inspired twist, it likely means they have a future as heroes.
James Gunn is clearly a fan of the source material, as he continually pulls deep cuts from the comics and puts them in his films. As such, it’s hard to imagine the original Ravagers/Guardians team being a force for evil. Likely, they’ll cause some trouble like Yondu and his band did, but in the end they’ll come through and help the Guardians defeat Ayesha, Adam, and any other threat that harms them or the galaxy.
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