We’re so close yet so far away from Avengers: Infinity War, which means we still have some time before the Guardians of Galaxy meet up with Thor and other members of the Avengers. The Guardians of the Galaxy have done an amazing job broadening the horizons of the MCU while finding the perfect balance of humor, retro music, and intriguing storylines. This feat is even more impressive when you remember that one of their team members is a tree that says three words and another is a talking raccoon with a gun. Their first major victory was also thanks to a dance-off, but we could on about this stuff all day.
The MCU is certainly a better place with Star-Lord and his crew, although the team went through quite a few changes before it was ready to join the cinematic universe. We’re not saying they’re terrible movies for deviating from the comics (because seriously, they’re some of the best movies ever), or even that these changes were mistakes or not as good as the original concepts. Still, every comic adaptation deserves a good look at its roots, which is why we’ve picked 15 things that the MCU changed about the Guardians of the Galaxy.
15. THEY STOLE THEIR NAME
Where did the Guardians get their name from? In the MCU, Ronan the Accuser mockingly assigns the title to them before he tries to annihilate Xandar. After the team is able to hold the Power Stone though, Star-Lord reaffirms the name before he destroys Ronan. In the comics, the team adopted their name in issue #2 of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where they find a portion of Avengers Mansion frozen in limbo ice.
In the ice is Vance Astro, the leader of the 31st-century Guardians of the Galaxy in an alternate timeline. Rocket decided the name was perfect and after some incessant nagging and a question about whether or not the name was trademarked, Star-Lord agrees to the name, on the condition that Rocket shuts up about it.
14. STAR-LORD WAS IN THE KYLN FOR GENOCIDE
When the Guardians of the Galaxy are sent to the Kyln, Star-Lord appears to be one of the more innocent members of the group (compared to a mass-murderers like Gamora). The Guardians didn’t meet up in the Kyln in the comics, although Star-Lord was sent there before their team formed. While fighting off the previous herald of Galactus herald known as the Fallen One, Star-Lord became complicit in the destruction of a Kree Lunar colony, which killed the moon’s 35,000 inhabitants.
While the act does stop the Fallen One, Star-Lord feels guilty and surrenders both himself and the Fallen One to the Nova Core, where the two are imprisoned for genocide. While in the Kyln, Star-Lord actually teams up with Thanos to stop a mutual enemy, the Maker.
13. THE ORIGINAL TEAM HAD MORE MEMBERS
While the Guardians of the Galaxy were among the heroes who fought during the Phalanx Invasion, they first assembled as a team in Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 series. The original lineup featured all five heroes from the first Guardians of Galaxy movie and also included Mantis, Adam Warlock, and Quasar (Phyla-Vell). In the last Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Mantis officially joined up with the team.
Adam Warlock has yet to emerge from his birth pod, but we should see him when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes out. As Quasar’s father the original Captain Mar-Vell has yet to make an MCU appearance and the 2019 Captain Marvel will follow Carol Danvers, the chances of seeing Phyla-Vell on the big screen do not look too promising.
12. STAR-LORD’S DAD IS J’SON OF SPARTAX
Star-Lord has daddy issues whether he’s in the MCU or in the comics, although whether they are king-sized or planet-sized depends on which one you decide to pick. In the MCU, Star-Lord’s father is actually the Celestial being Ego, a living planet who wants to use Peter’s power to expand across the entire universe.
In the comics, Star-Lord’s dad is the Emperor J’son of Spartax, who wants his to stop galavanting across the galaxy and fulfill his duties as the Star-Lord of Spartax (you know, to the point where he causes an intergalactic ban on earth and captures Star-Lord’s friends). Neither version is what you’d call the father of the year, although if we’re going with the less delusional of the two, J’son would win.
11. NEBULA PRETENDED TO BE THANOS’ GRANDDAUGHTER
You have to have at least a little compassion for MCU Nebula when you hear about her childhood. It’s no wonder she turned out so horrible when you consider that she was forced into fighting and that parts of her body were replaced by machines. In the comics, her dealings with Thanos are really her fault (and the being evil part, too).
When Thanos is caught between life and death, she hijacks his ship and manages to wipe out Xandar with it. When confronted by the Avenger Starfox, she pretends to be Thanos’ granddaughter and keeps the pretend title when Thanos returns. The Mad Titan isn’t too thrilled about the whole ordeal and makes her pay for the incident in ways far worse than becoming part machine.
10. ULTRON WAS THEIR FIRST VILLAIN
The introduction of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the MCU overlapped with the introduction of the Infinity Stones, so it’s not surprising that the Guardians’ origin story was vastly different. While our silver screen Guardians first defended Xandar from the Kree Ronan the Accuser, their comic counterparts first assembled with a host of other heroes to save the Kree.
The Guardians of the Galaxy first fought together (not officially the Guardians of the Galaxy yet) during the “Annihilation: Conquest” event, where the Phalanx had invaded all Kree-inhabited planets. The Phalanx was a techno-virus that invaded technology and turned sentient beings into mindless slaves (and turned some of these slaves into food). Ultron controlled the Phalanx at the time, and it took a massive line up heroes to stop the Robot from spreading the Phalanx across the galaxy.
9. STAR-LORD BECOMES KING OF SPARTAX
While MCU Peter Quill had cosmic-level power thanks to his lineage, comic book Star-Lord had his father to thank for the vacant throne of an empire. Peter exposes his father’s crimes to all of Spartax, which causes a rebellion. Following J’son’s removal, Peter was elected President/King of the Spartax Empire (to his complete surprise).
The serious and taxing duties of being king did not suit Peter Quill in the least and the role did last long. Following attacks from the accuser Hala and Yotat the Destroyer, Star-Lord’s kingdom turns against him and ends his rule over the Spartax Empire. With Star-Lord’s father being a planet and not an evil king, it is highly unlikely that we will see this chapter of Star-Lord’s history beyond the comics.
8. MANTIS WAS WAY MORE POWERFUL
As impressive as making a planet-sized Celestial go to sleep was, the MCU Mantis is surprisingly underpowered compared to her comic counterpart. While she is an empath in both the comics and the MCU, that is only the tip of the iceberg in the comics. She has telepathic abilities that are strong enough to influence a person’s decisions without their knowledge, as well as control the growth of plants in her vicinity.
Mantis can astral project herself to another planet and create a plant-based body to use while she’s there. Oh, and she can make things burst into flames and has precognition. MCU Mantis made it very clear that she was an empath and not a telepath, although there isn’t anything necessarily blocking her from developing these powers later on.
7. THEIR HOME BASE WAS KNOWHERE
In both the mainstream comics and in the MCU, Knowhere is the severed head of Celestial being. In the MCU, it’s a haven for outlaws, a site for illegal mining, and the home of the Collector. In the comics, it’s a hotspot for scientists across the cosmos and the base of operations for the Guardians of Galaxy.
The chief of police there was also a telepathic dog, which might be strange if we hadn’t already accepted that walking trees and the talking raccoons can be superheroes. While it’s not likely that we’ll see a similar development in the MCU, it’s not entirely out of the question either. The Guardians of the Galaxy are often considered outlaws, and they may need a safe haven in the coming movies.
6. DRAX WAS HUMAN
There are some awesome things about MCU Drax being an unnamed type of alien, like the fact that metaphors go right over his head (or they would if his reflexes weren’t so quick). This was certainly a new twist on him though, as Drax was originally a real estate agent named Arthur Douglas. Arthur, his wife, and his daughter supposedly died at the hands of Thanos, when the Mad Titan tried to keep his presence on earth a secret.
Before he was completely dead though, Thanos’ grandfather Kronos extracted Arthur’s astral form from his dying body and put it into one created specifically to destroy Thanos. Armed with super strength and blinding hatred, Drax the Destroyer lived only for vengeance, and for a while had no memories of his past life.
5. THEY STARTED BECAUSE OF MIND-CONTROL
At the end of first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Drax, Gamora, and Rocket are ready to follow Star-Lord’s lead (Baby Groot is just along for the ride at this point). They had bonded in battle and by the time their second movie came out, they considered themselves a family. The Guardians didn’t have such a lighthearted start in the comics. Following the “Annihilation: Conquest” event, the galaxy was in chaos and it needed heroes, fast.
Desperate to put a team together and uncertain of how long it would take, Star-Lord convinced the Mantis to use her mind-controlling abilities to convince the other members to join. Not exactly the best foundation for a team. The Guardians learned about Star-Lord’s trick in issue #6 of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the news caused a temporary break up in the group.
4. DRAX WAS GREEN
Before the first Guardians of the Galaxy came out, there were some debates about what color skin Drax the Destroyer would have in the MCU. From the media released, some fans thought that he was gray while others insisted that he was green like he is in the comics. Disagreements threatened to turn into a superhero version of the blue and gold dress debate before James Gunn confirmed that Drax was, in fact, gray.
Drax has pretty much always been green in the comics, so it was definitely a new look for the character and was probably to differentiate his look from Gamora’s on screen. His red markings were way cooler in the MCU than in the comics though, so maybe we’ll call this one a draw?
3. GAMORA WAS FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSE
How Gamora came to be considered Thanos’ daughter is a sad story both in the MCU and the comics, although there are definitely a few differences. Perhaps the greatest change is that Gamora is from another time and place in the comics. Gamora was the sole survivor of the peaceful Zen Whorbian race, thanks to the Universal Church of Truth and its Grand Inquisitors.
Thanos found her after this tragedy and took her back to Earth-616, where she was enhanced and trained to be a living weapon. While many of the differences between the comics and the MCU are to give the movies a lighter feel, Gamora is worse off in the MCU after this change, as she had to live with the person who killed her family.
2. MANTIS WAS THE CELESTIAL MADONNA
Before Mantis joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in the MCU, she was basically just Ego’s pet. Before she joins the team in the comics, she has a much more impressive resume. She was a master of martial arts, a barmaid (also a prostitute and exotic dancer), an Avenger, and the Celestial Madonna as well. As the latter, Mantis was considered the perfect human, with complete mastery over her mind and body.
She also married a telepathic tree and had a son destined to change the course of the universe. MCU Mantis is a far cry from her celestial role (and also not human), so it isn’t likely that we’ll be seeing her tree husband or hybrid son anytime soon. Now that she’s part of the Guardians of the Galaxy though, there’s a possibility we’ll get to see some of the martial arts action she’s famous for.
1. GROOT WAS A GENIUS
Groot is a portrayed as a simple, childish character in the MCU. He drank water from a decorative fountain and took the battery in the Kyln without waiting for Rocket to explain his plan. He never flew a ship, never came up with a brilliant plan, and never presented himself as the brightest tree in the nursery. It’s possible he’s just holding out on us though, as the Earth-616 Guardians of the Galaxy were quite shocked to learn that Groot was an expert in quasi-dimensional super-positional engineering.
As explained by the Inhuman Maximus in issue #17 of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Groot comes from a noble lineage and had an excellent education. The above expertise is only a fraction of his intellectual powers. Wow, Groot, you’ve been holding out on us these past few movies.
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