SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," in theaters now.
Marvel Studios' unlikely cosmic heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy, are undeniably hot right now. With the release of the team's second smash-hit film and an all-new volume of the comic, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of the space-faring found-family, but what about their predecessors/successors who coined the name first -- one thousand years in the future. Many are unaware of the original issue Guardians of the Galaxy and their relationship to the current team, but the group's members are as interesting -- and as weird -- as anything else in comics, and thanks to Marvel's latest film, more people than ever have heard their names.
One of the most surprising nods to a larger Marvel Universe in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" was the inclusion of the characters who made up the original team in the comics. Sylvester Stallone’s Stakar Ogord, Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, Michael Rosenbaum as Martine T’Naga, Michelle Yeoh as Aleta Ogord, Miley Cyrus as the voice of Mainframe, the computer generated Krugarr and, of course, Michael Rooker returning as Yondu Udonta. In the universe of the film, these characters are leaders of The Ravagers, but their history in the comics saw them on a different path, one that stretches back to 1969.
The Guardians of the Galaxy first debuted in “Marvel Super-Heroes #18” by the legendary team of Arnold Drake and Gene Colan. Drake in particular was no stranger to creating some of the weirdest and most enduring superheroes in comics as he also gave us The Doom Patrol and Deadman, while Gene Colan is an all-time great remembered for his work on “Daredevil” and “Tomb of Dracula” where he co-created Blade.though he has a complex comics history all his own. Vance Astro was an astronaut from the 20th century who was trapped in suspended animation and woke up one thousand years later to find Earth at war with the alien race known as The Badoon. He met the Alpha-Centurian known as Yondu in a human colony, where the pair were captured and imprisoned along with human soldier Charlie-27 and the last surviving Plutonian, Martinex.
Thing get really confusing when the team added the spacefaring hero Starhawk. The character was at once both Stakar and Aleta Ogord, merged together, not entirely unlike the situation of DC's Firestorm, though not exactly the same, either. Stakar is the son of the protector of the universe, Quasar, and the lower case-c celestial Kismet, who fans of the films have met as Ayesha of The Sovereign. Stakar was kidnapped and taken into the future where he was abandoned and raised by a Reaver known as Ogord, who raised the child alongside his own daughter, Aleta.
Stakar and Aleta were merged together as Starhawk as the result of an accident. After some success at a normal life as a married couple, Stakar chose to be Starhawk again to join The Guardians of the Galaxy in driving The Badoon from Earth.
The characters of Krugarr and Mainframe have had far fewer comic book appearances, having not debuted until the early ‘90s, but their inclusion in the film is interesting due to their comic book connections to Avengers. Krugarr is actually the successor of Doctor Stephen Strange and is the Sorcerer Supreme of his timeline, where Strange himself has taken up the role of The Ancient One. Mainframe, meanwhile, is the evolution of The Vision. After one thousand years, The Vision became his own planet, essentially, with Mainframe controlling every aspect of the conditions while he served as the guardian of the shield of Captain America. It’s incredibly unlikely that these comic book origins will be referenced in the movies, but it’s always cool to see future incarnations of characters and their links to ones in the present.
The two time-tossed Guardians teams first crossed paths when the present day team found Vance Astro who, while half-amnesiac from his cross-time jaunt, accidentally inspired the name Guardians of the Galaxy for the characters we know and love. Things got weirder as Starhawk arrived in the present dazed thanks to being in a state of quantum uncertainty, warning of a great disaster to befall the team. As a result, half the team found themselves trapped in the future alongside the 30th century Guardians, tangling with the time-manipulating Avengers villain Kang The Conqueror as the entire timestream broke down.
Marvel has attempted a couple of revamps of the future Guardians in recent years, most notably bringing in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning for “Guardians 3000” and its follow-up “Guardians of Infinity,” which saw the present day and future Guardians team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy from the 10th century! Alas, the teas saw only a short-run, as the two volumes were mostly overlooked by fan, a shame especially considering how influential the DnA pair were having reinventing the Guardians in 2008.
In recent years, as the Marvel Universe has shifted to align itself more closely with its cinematic counterpart, elements of the original Guardians have found their way into the present day timeline. Specifically, an ancestor of Yondu, also named Yondu, was introduced to Peter Quill’s backstory in Sam Humphries and Javier Garron’s “Star-Lord,” a series which brought the character’s origin more in line with the movies. The present day Yondu resembles Michael Rooker in the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” to a tee, and introduced a Marvel Universe version of the Ravagers as well. He hasn’t been seen since that story arc, but considering the events of the most recent film, it wouldn’t be too surprising if an enterprising comic creator pulled that particular toy out of the toybox.
Now that we know who the original Guardians of the Galaxy are, just what can we expect from them in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Perhaps a cameo in “Avengers: Infinity War” or its sequel, to help visualize the breadth of Thanos’ threat? It’s unlikely Marvel has plans to spin them off into their own franchise, but anything is possible. Either way, now that they’re assembled as a team, it’s exciting to think about where they’ll turn up next and what they’ll do when we see them.