When Guardians of the Galaxy dropped in the summer of 2014, nobody knew what to expect. If Marvel staples like Thor and Iron Man were considered risky bets because they were in the broader cultural periphery, how on Xandar were they going to convince audiences to come see a cast of characters the bulk of comic book fans didn’t even know?
However, director James Gunn knew that it didn’t matter if you care who the characters were before if he could make you care for them now. His gamble paid off big time, and with his second, highly anticipated at-bat, he remixed even more cosmic characters for his little slice of the MCU. We’re here to introduce you to the awesome mix of new faces that popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and its multiple post-credits scenes. So be warned: here there be spoilers!
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
The prominent new addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy line-up, and one of the break-out stars of Guardians Vol. 2, Mantis has the richest comic book history of almost any character in the film. Created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck in 1973, Mantis has battled Loki, Thanos, Dormammu, has been a Guardian of the Galaxy and an Avenger, and was at one point caught in a complex love triangle, or "rectangle" more accurately, with Vision, Scarlet Witch and the Swordsman, her eventual husband.
In the comics, Mantis possesses not only the empathic powers she exhibits in Guardians Vol. 2, but also telepathy, precognition, astral projection and even chrolokinesis, the latter being the ability to control the growth of plant life. And sure, that last one would probably be really helpful in her current role on the cinematic Guardians team, but that would have deprived us of Baby Groot, and who really wants that?
14 EGO THE LIVING PLANET
One of the most significant new faces and arguably the most significant departure from comic book lore, Guardians Vol. 2 introduces a character so grandiose and absurd that few expected they’d ever see him on screen. While the crux of Ego’s role in Guardians Vol. 2 is as Peter Quill’s father, Quill’s comic book father is actually J’son of Spartax. That doesn’t mean Ego hasn’t crossed paths with plenty of Guardians characters on the page, though.
Though in our world he was created by the legendary Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in the Marvel Universe Ego was crafted by The Stranger, who also forged a twin known as Alter Ego, who came to be possessed by The Collector. Ego would go on to cross paths with Guardians like Mantis (at the time teamed with Silver Surfer) and Rocket Raccoon, but his first appearance actually involved an Avenger, when he tussled with the Thunder God in the pages of Thor #132.
You may remember Taserface as the mutinous member of Yondu’s crew in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, or for the colorful nicknames he acquires in said film, but long-time readers of obscure Marvel books will remember him from his debut in Guardians of the Galaxy #1, the first Guardians solo title, in June of 1990.
Creator Jim Valentino needed an antagonist for the newly revived team, and crafted a scout for the Stark (the alien race, not to be confused with the Stark that built the Iron Man suit) sent to guard the planet Courg. It was there he battles the titular Guardians, though not the line-up we’ve come to know in the films beyond Yondu. After that first arc, Valentino’s villain would crop up in one off appearances throughout that initial Guardians run. And when Valentino needed to give a name to his foe, he presumably woke up in the morning, looked in the mirror and in all seriousness said to himself “You know what would be a really kick ass name? Taserface!”
Though in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Brahl has a fairly minor role as one of the Ravagers siding with Taserface in his mutiny, in the comics Brahl actually has a richer history than the aforementioned moronic s**bag.
First popping up in Thor Annual #6 in 1977, Brahl is an Achernonian, an alien race with the ability to turn himself or others intangible. Created by Len Wein and Sal Buscema, Brahl was a founding member of the Minions of Menace alongside Grott, Dumog, Teju, Tork and most notably Korvac, whom its surprising hasn’t popped up in the MCU himself. The Minions of Menace were primarily antagonists of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but also at times battled Thor and the Avengers during crossover issues. Later on, during Jim Valentino’s run of Guardians in the ‘90s, Brahl joined a new team of villains to fight the Guardians known as Force, alongside Tachyon, Interface and Photon, a female mercenary from the same race as Yondu. Fun as Guardians Vol. 2 was, it does seem kind of a shame that Brahl’s abrupt end negates our chances of seeing his powers or his villainous teams get the big-screen treatment.
Tullk is perhaps, in appearance, the furthest departure from his comic book counterpart. While in the film he’s a gunslinging humanoid Ravager who stands by Yondu until the bitter end, the Tullk Ul-Zyn of the comics is a portly blue alien of unknown origin who, while a mercenary, has no ties to Yondu whatsoever.
The newest in origin of the new faces to appear in Guardians Vol. 2, Tullk is barely a decade old, having been created in 2006 by Simon Furman and Jorge Lucas for the Annihilation crossover event tie-in Annihilation: Ronan. In the book, Tullk is hired by Ronan the Accuser, who movie fans will remember as the villain from the first Guardians, to hunt down a Rigellian known as Tana Nile, a character with a rich history in the Guardians universe heretofore unexplored in the films. When he tracked Tana to the planet Bwokk, she attempted to turn him to her aid. Tullk attempted to play both sides, a la Fistful of Dollars, but Tullk lacked the wits of a Man With No Name and was undone by an Annihilation horde having burned all his would-be allies.
10 STAKAR OGORD
At last, Rambo’s mystery role in Guardians Vol. 2 has been revealed, and if you heard squeals from certain audience members during his post-credits scene, you might have guessed he has a significant role in Marvel comics lore. It’s true, because Stakar Ogord, Stallone’s character in the film, is better known as one half of Starhawk, a major member of the line-up of the Guardians of the Galaxy now known as Guardians 3000.
What we see in the post-credits scene is Stakar assembling an old team that roughly approximates the “original incarnation” of the Guardians of the Galaxy, though Starhawk was not part of the earliest line-up. These Guardians, rather than fighting in contemporary times like the current version, battle amongst the stars in the year 3000 AD, in a timeline where Martians had taken over the Earth in the year 2000 following unheralded warnings of environmental decay in the 1990’s, which admittedly kinda makes it sound like a way more exciting version of An Inconvenient Truth.
9 ALETA OGORD
To call Michelle Yeoh’s Aleta Ogord Stakar’s other half isn’t just employing a colloquialism about married couples. Aleta and Stakar are quite literally two halves of the hero Starhawk, and must merge in order to form him. This, of course, is easier said than done when relationship issues arise. Basically, picture if Martin Stein and Jax on Legends of Tomorrow, only with ever-arising marital spats.
Created, like her husband, by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema in Defenders #29, Aleta was born on the planet Arcturus IV and raised with Stakar as her adopted brother. Together, they discovered an ancient statue which caused them to merge, granting one of them great power while the other stayed trapped in Limbo. That it was Stakar who very often took the corporeal form, while his equally powerful wife stayed stuck on the proverbial back burner might explain their eventual divorce.
While it’s surprising it took this long to get Ving Rhames into the MCU, they couldn’t have picked a better role for him than Charlie-27. A genetically engineered soldier from the planet Jupiter in the year 3000 AD, Charlie-27 has a vendetta against the alien race known as the Badoon after they killed the entirety of his planet, leaving him the sole survivor. Initially teaming up with Yondo, Martinez and Vance Astro in an early Guardians of the Galaxy line-up, his quest against the Badoon also brought him into alliance with The Thing, the Defenders, Starhawk and even Captain America.
However, where Charlie-27 becomes interesting is after the Badoon are finally defeated and he finds himself adrift, a man without purpose, unsure where to go from there. What becomes of a man fuelled by vengeance when the metaphorical gas tank runs dry? Perhaps the Charlie-27 of the MCU has already had his vengeance and forged a new path, and might be able to provide guidance to a fellow Guardian with a single-minded goal, namely Drax the Destroyer.
Some comic fans might be surprised by the character named Mainframe showing up in the post-credits scene of Guardians Vol. 2, and not just because she’s voiced by Miley Cyrus. Arguably the best known Mainframe in Marvel is the android created by Tony Stark that first appeared in the series A-Next in 1998 along with Stinger, J2 and Kevin Masterson. However, there is another Mainframe in Marvel comics more closely linked to the Guardians of the old days.
This Mainframe exists in the year 3000 AD, along with the original Guardians, as a supercomputer which controls the entire planet of Klaatu. Mainframe was charged with guarding Captain America’s shield, a relic being fought over by the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Force. Why would Mainframe be protective of Steve Rogers’ shield, you ask? Why, simple: they were old friends back when Mainframe was in his original form as the Avenger known as Vision.
Did you guys happen to catch that red creature amongst Stakar’s original team who communicated via mandala? Did that call to mind the mystical symbols created from thin air in the previous MCU film, Doctor Strange? It should, because Krugarr has a deep connection to the aforementioned sorcerer supreme.
Originally created by Jim Valentino in Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1, the Lem known as Krugarr is perhaps the one classic Guardian not best known for his time on the team. Instead, Krugarr’s most significant role is that of apprentice to Doctor Stephen Strange, who discovered Krugarr in the 22nd century and took him under his wing. When Strange ascended to the role of the Ancient One, Krugarr actually earned the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Krugarr would go on to wield the Eye of Agamotto, do battle with Dormammu and even take on an apprentice of his own, the Inhuman Talon. With Inhumans, Doctor Strange and now Krugarr all in the MCU, is this a potential story arc for Phase Four? Well, probably not, but it’d be cool, right?
Ever wonder what it would be like if Lex Luthor popped up in the MCU? Well, the closest we’ll get to that is Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum as Martinex, though this is a very different former scientist than the one he used to play.
Martinex is a Pluvian, i.e. originating from the planet Pluto, who is covered in a crystalline outer shell. Originally a scientist, Martinex teamed up with Charlie-27 and the other Guardians of the Galaxy after his home world was also set upon with genocidal intent by the Badoon. After notable adventures with the Guardians alongside Captain America and The Thing, and even defending Cap’s shield against the Force and being nearly killed by Brahl, Martinex attempted to form his own Guardians team known as the Galactic Guardians, which included Mainframe and even Ghost Rider. The Galactic Guardians also included Simon Williams, long-rumored to appear in the MCU played by Nathan Fillion. With Fillion and Rosenbaum both longtime collaborators of Guardians director James Gunn, let’s not rule out the possibility of a future installment featuring the Galactic Guardians.
4 THE WATCHERS
Remember that constantly circulated fan theory that rather than just being a fun series of meta-cameos in a fictional film series, Stan Lee’s many varied appearances were actually all tied together, and were proof that Lee is in fact Uatu the Watcher? Well, holy cow, you guys, it’s true! Well, kinda. At the very least, we know that Stan Lee is an informant for The Watchers.
Who are the Watchers, you ask? Right, it is probably more fun if you know. The Watchers are an ancient race tasked with observing every planet in the universe and chronicling their evolution without ever interfering. Basically think of them as big, bald embodiments of the Prime Directive from Star Trek. Clearly they are conferring with Lee, which means he is their primary source for the affairs of the planet Earth in the MCU. Now, does this mean that Stan Lee is actually Uatu, the Earth-focused Watcher who breaks their main rule as often as Lee broke the rules of comics in his heyday? We don’t know for sure, but we’re certainly true believers.
Elizabeth Dibecki’s Ayesha is the High Priestess of the Sovereign in Guardians Vol. 2, yet her role in the comics is radically different, starting with the fact that no such organization as the Sovereign exists in the Marvel comics universe (though it could be a variation on the villainous Universal Church of Truth, prominently featured in Jim Starlin’s Magus storyline).
Instead, Ayesha is a creation of The Enclave, a group of scientists determined to create an ubermensch, having already failed once when their first creation went rogue. Originally appearing in Incredible Hulk Annual #6, Ayesha was first a male-presenting being known as Paragon, who first attempted to kill Doctor Strange, who had operated on the being whilst it was within its regenerative cocoon. After battling Strange and The Hulk and destroying the Enclave that created it, Paragon discovered it had a male predecessor. Therefore, Paragon decided to return to its cocoon, take female form and mate with it to create an even more powerful offspring. Of course, that predecessor also had a cameo of sorts in Guardians Vol. 2, and his name is…
2 ADAM WARLOCK
Yes, after a fake-out cocoon in the Collector’s lair got cosmic Marvel fans giddy, James Gunn finally pulled the trigger and introduced one of the wildest, most powerful and most crucial to the cosmic side of Marvel characters into the MCU. Though seemingly a creation of, or at least successor to Ayesha in Guardians Vol. 2, Adam Warlock preceded her in the comics, being the first creation of the Enclave in Fantastic Four #66.
After some time as a muscular blonde brute in a speedo known as Him, Adam was reinvented by Roy Thomas, inspired by Jesus Christ Superstar, as a messianic figure in the Marvel universe, given a redemptive purpose by a God-like being known as the High Evolutionary. After dying on a cross and being reborn on a world known as Counter-Earth, Warlock fell into the hands of the legendary Jim Starlin, who not only explored the alternate life of a messiah who can never truly die in the "Magus Saga," but made Adam an integral part of both Infinity Gauntlet and the subsequent Infinity War.
1 THE GRANDMASTER
The eagle-eyed viewer might have noticed a familiar face pop-up during the fantastic “Guardians Inferno” sequence of Guardians Vol. 2. Sure, we weren’t expecting to see Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster until Thor: Ragnarok, but to paraphrase his character from Jurassic Park: Jeff…uh, found a way. The Grandmaster, otherwise known as En Dwi Gast, has a long comics history since his creation by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in Avengers #69. The two most significant roles, when one considering the trajectory of the current MCU, are in Contest of Champions and Thanos Quest.
In the former, The Grandmaster makes a bargain with Death for the life of his fellow Elder of the Universe, the Collector. They agree to make a wager on a contest wherein Marvel’s greatest heroes are divided between them and forced to do battle in an arena. The latter was a Jim Starlin penned prequel to The Infinity Gauntlet which depicted Thanos’ hunt for the Infinity Gems. The Grandmaster, being in possession of one, challenges Thanos to a game wherein he could win the gem. Both Thanos and the Grandmaster cheat, but Thanos gains the upper hand and imprisons the Grandmaster, taking the gem to complete the Gauntlet.
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet? Let us know what you thought of the movie in the comments!