Welcome to “After You’ve Seen It,” a new segment in which I talk more freely about a new movie or show that is meant to explain things about something you’ve just seen, as opposed to our “Before You Go” segment in which I explain things about something you haven’t seen yet.
Needless to say, Spoiler Alert. If you haven’t seen GOTGv2 yet, come back later.
Who Were All Those People?
Unless you’re a Marvel Zombie, you were probably confused by all the new characters who show up in GOTGv2. Heck, even if you are a longtime Marvel fan you probably had trouble making out who some of the people are since director James Gunn takes great liberties in translating these characters to film. I had to look up some of them just to be sure.
Ego The Living Planet first appeared in the pages of “Thor” in 1966. A creation of the all-star team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ego is pretty much what it says on the package: A sentient planet.
Like most cosmic figures he’s neither good nor evil but he does do things at times that run counter to what would be best for Earth, so he ends up in fights with people like Thor and the Fantastic Four.
In fact, the whole bit where Baby Groot drops a bomb on Ego’s brain was lifted pretty directly from an issue of FF by John Byrne. I bring this up only because I didn’t see Byrne’s name listed among the Marvel writers who got credited for their contributions to the film.
As to just how far can you take a character from its comic book origins, meet Mantis. Mantis made her debut in “The Avengers” in 1973.
Created by Steve Englehart, Mantis was a Vietnamese hooker who met a down-and-out villain named The Swordsman at a bar. She rehabilitates Swordy and convinces him to go to New York and try to join The Avengers (One assumes she did this so she could move into Avengers mansion and out of some Vietnamese whorehouse). The team takes them in and shortly thereafter she begins flirting with The Vision, much to the chagrin of the Scarlet Witch.
Shortly after this it is revealed that Mantis is the Celestial Madonna, meaning her destiny was to one day give birth to a child who would become the most powerful being in the universe. At the end of a long and convoluted story she winds up marrying a plant person (think Groot but green and with a better vocabulary) and they go off into space. Mantis has various adventures and eventually joins the Guardians.
Originally, Mantis did not have superpowers, she was just very good at the martial arts. The “antennae” sticking out of her head were never really explained. I think they were just part of a headdress, they certainly didn’t give her any powers. After she became the Madonna her skin turned green (I guess from having sex with a plant person? I dunno.) and she gained the ability to communicate with plants. She does now have empathetic abilities, which is about the only thing about her that the movie kept intact.
Before I get into the rest of the newbies, who for the most part were just glorified cameos, a history lesson: The original Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in 1969 in a comic called “Marvel Super Heroes.”
Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the Guardians lived in the 31st century where they fought a never-ending battle with an alien race known as The Badoon. Team members included Yondu ( whom you’ve met, from Centauri-IV, played by Michael Rooker), Martinex (a crystal-like being from Pluto) and Charlie 27 (a big, bulky guy from Jupiter).
The fourth member, Vance Astro, was an American astronaut from modern times who somehow wound up in the 31st century. He has yet to appear in the movies.
Martinex and Charlie appear briefly in the movie (played by Michael Rosenbaum and Ving Rhames) as part of Yondu’s old crew. There’s also a character called Mainframe whom I blinked and missed. She’s a future version of The Vision who joined the Guardians at some point in recent years. The character was voiced by Miley Cyrus. Yes, Hanna Montana is now a full-fledged member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This original Guardians were later joined by Starhawk (Stakar Ogord, played by Sylvester Stallone) and his female counterpart Aleta (Michelle Yeoh). I say female counterpart because back when I was reading comics in the ’70s, Starhawk and Aleta couldn’t occupy the same space at the same time, so when one was dominant, the other was in “limbo” or somesuch. Kinda like the HULK and Bruce Banner, but not really.
I don’t really follow the Guardians and what I know about them is what I read from guest appearances in “The Defenders” and “The Avengers.” I’m pretty sure Starhawk and Aleta (who, as you can see from the comic, bear little resemblance to Sylvester Stallone andMichelle Yeoh) are separate entities now and they’ve all moved out of the 31st century to modern times.
I don’t know how the Ravagers fit into this, they weren’t Ravagers in the comics that I grew up with but Marvel’s cosmic comics have changed a great deal since I was a kid. At some point the original Guardians were replaced by the characters we know today but I think they are all out there somewhere, probably guarding other parts of the galaxy. It’s a pretty big place after all.
The tall, bald guys hanging out with Stan Lee are from a race known as The Watchers. As the name implies, they are powerful cosmic dudes who just stand around and watch as the universe unfolds. Interstellar peeping toms, basically.
Finally, if you made it all the way to the end of the film, you’re probably wondering what’s in the big cocoon that the gold lady had made. That would be Him, better known as Adam Warlock.
Him first appeared in “The Fantastic Four” in the 1960s, a creation of Lee and Kirby. Him was created by Earth scientists to be the perfect human. He was later revamped into a kind of space messiah as Adam Warlock by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He rose to prominence under Jim Starlin as an arch-enemy of Thanos, whom you should already be well aware of.
Whether Warlock will play a role in the upcoming Infinity War story line in the Avengers movies or whether they hold him back for the third Guardians movie is anyone’s guess.