Guardians of the Galaxy is an American science-fiction superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by James Gunn, with the screenplay written by Nicole Perlman, Chris McCoy, and Gunn. The Film stars Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace and Ophelia Lovibond. Filming was scheduled to begin in June 2013 at Shepperton Studios in London, England. Guardians of the Galaxy was released on August 1, 2014, and was released in 3D and IMAX.
The film was positively reviewed by critics with an average of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film was a box office success grossing over $772 Million worldwide becoming the third highest-grossing film of 2014 and the highest-grossing superhero film of 2014. Much of the praise went to Gunn's direction, the story, the humour, the visuals, the nostalgic soundtrack and the performances of the cast. At the 87th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. At the 41st Saturn Awards, the film received nine nominations, including Best Science-Fiction Film, Best Director (for Gunn), Best Writing, Best Actor (for Pratt) and Best Special Effects as well as being nominated for two Empire awards: Best Female Newcomer (for Gillan) and Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
A sequel is scheduled for release in 2017 with James Gunn possibly returning to direct.
In 1988, following his mother's death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by the Ravagers, a group of space pirates led by Yondu Udonta. Twenty-six years later on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb, after which Korath, a subordinate to the fanatical Kree, Ronan, intercepts him. Although Quill escapes with the orb, Yondu discovers his theft and issues a bounty for his capture, while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora after the orb.
When Quill attempts to sell the orb on the Nova Empire capital world, Xandar, Gamora ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, and the tree-like humanoid Groot. The Nova Corps arrives and arrests all four, imprisoning them in the Kyln. While there, a powerful inmate, Drax, attempts to kill Gamora due to her association with Ronan, who killed his family. Quill convinces Drax that Gamora can bring Ronan to him. Gamora reveals that she has betrayed Ronan, unwilling to let him use the orb's power to destroy planets, starting with Xandar. Learning that Gamora has a buyer for the orb, she, Quill, Rocket, Groot, and Drax work together to escape from the Kyln.
Elsewhere, Ronan meets with Gamora's adoptive father, Thanos, to discuss her betrayal. Accompanied by Drax, Quill's group escapes the Kyln in his ship – the Milano – and flees to Knowhere, a remote criminal outpost in space built in the giant severed-head of a Celestial. A drunken Drax summons Ronan while the rest of the group meet Gamora's contact, the collector Taneleer Tivan. Tivan opens the orb, revealing an Infinity Stone, an item of immeasurable power that destroys all but the most powerful beings who wield it. Suddenly, Tivan's tormented assistant grabs the Stone, triggering an explosion that engulfs Tivan's archive.
Ronan arrives and easily defeats Drax, while the others flee by ship, pursued by Ronan's followers and Gamora's sister Nebula. Nebula destroys Gamora's ship, leaving her floating in space, and Ronan's forces capture the orb. Quill contacts Yondu before following Gamora into space, giving her his helmet to survive; Yondu arrives and retrieves the pair. Rocket, Drax, and Groot threaten to attack Yondu's ship to rescue them, but Quill negotiates a truce by convincing Yondu that they can recover the orb. Quill's group agrees that facing Ronan means certain death, but that they cannot let him use the Infinity Stone to destroy the galaxy. On Ronan's flagship, the Dark Aster, Ronan embeds the Stone in his warhammer, taking its power for himself. He contacts Thanos, threatening to kill him after the destruction of Xandar; hateful of her adopted father, Nebula allies with Ronan.
Near Xandar, the Ravagers, the Nova Corps, and Quill’s group, which breaches the Dark Aster, confront the Dark Aster. Ronan uses his empowered warhammer to destroy the Nova Corps fleet. On the Dark Aster, after Gamora defeats Nebula (who escapes), she unlocks Ronan's chambers, but the group find themselves outmatched by his power until Rocket crashes the Milano through the Dark Aster. The damaged Dark Aster crash-lands on Xandar, with Groot sacrificing himself to shield the group. Ronan emerges from the wreck and prepares to destroy Xandar, but Quill distracts him, allowing Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan's warhammer. Quill grabs the freed Stone, and with Gamora, Drax, and Rocket sharing its burden, they use it to destroy Ronan.
In the aftermath, Quill tricks Yondu into taking a container supposedly containing the Stone, and gives the real Stone to the Nova Corps. As the Ravagers leave Xandar, Yondu remarks that it turned out well that they did not deliver Quill to his father per their contract. Quill's group, now known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, have their criminal records expunged, and Quill learns that he is only half-human, his father being part of an ancient, unknown species. Quill finally opens the last present he received from his mother: a cassette tape filled with her favorite songs. The Guardians leave in the rebuilt Milano along with a sapling cut from Groot.
In a end-credits scene, Tivan sits in his destroyed archive with two of his living exhibits: a canine cosmonaut and an anthropomorphic duck.
- Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord: The leader of the Guardians who left Earth in 1988. Describing his character, Pratt said, "He had a hard time as a kid, and now he goes around space, making out with hot alien girls and just being a rogue and a bit of a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys, finds a higher purpose for himself."
- Zoe Saldana as Gamora: The adopted daughter of Thanos and an associate of Ronan, Nebula and Korath who tries to find a new path for herself. Saldana said that she would become Gamora through make-up rather than CGI or performance capture. On taking the role, Saldana said, "I was just excited to be asked to join by James Gunn and to also play someone green. I've been blue before [in Avatar]."
- Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer: A warrior in search of vengeance against Ronan. "There’s a point where I go to set every day and I still can’t freaking believe I got this job,” said Bautista. “It’s something that I wanted more than anything I ever wanted in my life. When I got it, I broke down and cried like a little baby."
- Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon: A genetically engineered raccoon who is an expert marksman and master tactician. Gunn worked with live raccoons to get the correct feel for the character and to make sure the CGI raccoon used was "not a cartoon character," saying "it's not Bugs Bunny in the middle of The Avengers, it’s a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that’s alone. There’s no one else in the universe quite like him, he’s been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine." Cooper will voice Rocket Raccoon, while Sean Gunn was the stand-in for the CGI character during filming.
- Vin Diesel as Groot: A hyper-intelligent tree-like creature that can absorb wood to gain strength and recover from injuries as well as control trees. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Diesel stated that he was originally in talks to star in a new Phase Three Marvel film, but after hearing fan reaction at Comic-Con, Marvel presented him with the opportunity to portray Groot. The character will be voiced and motion captured by Diesel himself.
- Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser: The film's main antagonist. Pace originally auditioned for Star-Lord. On the character, Pace said, "He’s a psycho...a real monster.[sic] I’ve had the best time playing this character."
- Michael Rooker as Yondu: A blue-skinned hunter and tracker with an intuitive "sixth sense" perception.
- Karen Gillan as Nebula: An employee of Thanos who "has an interesting and complex relationship with Gamora". Describing her character, Gillan said, "She is the female villain of the film. She teams up with Lee Pace who is the male villain. She is very sadistic and evil, but I like to think for a very valid reason." Gillan shaved off her hair for the role.
- Djimon Hounsou as Korath: An ally to Ronan and Thanos. Hounsou took the role because of his son, stating "I wanna begin saying a story about my son. I have a four-year old son who loves superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Batman. He’s got all the costumes. One day he looks at me and says ‘Dad, I want to be light-skinned so I could be Spider-Man. Spider-Man has light skin.’ That was sort of a shock. This is why I am excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe, so I could be hopefully provide that diversity in the role of the superhero."
- Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan / The Collector: A powerful member of the Elders of the Universe. Describing del Toro's performance, Gunn said, "...he's like an outer-space Liberace. That's what it says in the script, which he's kind of doing. He really came in prepared and doing something utterly unique, and he's mesmerizing the whole time he's in the movie."
- John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey: A member of Nova Corps.
- Glenn Close as Commander Rael: The leader of Nova Corps.
- Josh Brolin as Thanos: The Mad Titan and one of the major antagonists of the film.
- Ophelia Lovibond as The Collector's Ally: A red female alien who helps the Collector.
Laura Haddock, Gregg Henry, Stephen Blackehart, Sean Gunn, Marama Corlett, Alexis Rodney, Melia Kreiling, and Spencer Wilding have been cast in unspecified supporting roles. Director James Gunn stated that Sean Gunn's role will be an "integral" part of the film. Lloyd Kaufman will have a cameo in the film. Peter Serafinowicz will play a Nova Corps officer. Thanos has been confirmed to be a part of the movie as the mastermind of the events.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige first mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film during an interview at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, stating, "There are some obscure titles, too, like Guardians of the Galaxy. I think they've been revamped recently in a fun way in the book." In a September 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Feige reiterated that sentiment, going on to say, "There's an opportunity to do a big space epic, which Thor sort of hints at, in the cosmic side of the [Marvel] universe." In June 2012 Marvel filed eleven trademark applications for Guardians of the Galaxy, covering a variety of consumer products, from video games to cosmetics. This was shortly followed by rumours that the film had been greenlit, and would involve the supervillain Thanos as a potential lead-in to an Avengers sequel. Variety chimed in, stating that a script for the film, which the studio was high on, had been written by Nicole Perlman.
The film was officially announced as being in active development at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International Marvel Studios panel by Feige, with an intended release date of August 1, 2014. He stated that the film's titular team would consist of the characters Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon; while two pieces of concept art were displayed, one of Rocket Raccoon, and one featuring the full team. In August 2012 Marvel Studios hired writer Chris McCoy to rewrite Perlman's script. Later that month James Gunn entered talks to direct the film, beating out other contenders, including Peyton Reed and the duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who signed a deal to creatively consult on all of the films leading into The Avengers sequel, including Guardians of the Galaxy, was enthusiastic about the selection of Gunn to direct, saying "James [Gunn] is what makes me think it will work... He is so off the wall, and so crazy, but so smart, such a craftsman and he builds from his heart. He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon... He has a very twisted take on it, but it all comes from a real love for the material. It's going to be hard for [the human characters] to keep up."
On September 18, 2012, Gunn confirmed in a post on his official Facebook page that he had signed on to direct the film and rewrite the script. In November, it was reported that Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess, Lee Pace and Eddie Redmayne signed deals to test for the role of Peter Quill / Star-Lord. A week later Pace confirmed that he was auditioning for the role. Other actors who were reportedly considered for the role including Thor: The Dark World's Zachary Levi, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Rosenbaum. In February 2013, Chris Pratt was cast in the role.
In January 2013, it was reported that filming would take place at Shepperton Studios in London, England, and Marvel Studios announced that the film would be released in 3D. Victoria Alonso, an executive producer on the film, said that filming would begin in June. She also said that both Rocket Raccoon and Groot would be created through a combination of CGI and motion capture, going on to say that "You can’t do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won’t let you put the suit on [laughs]. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior... we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be, the behavior and the performance. He’s very clear on where he wants to take the characters." In an interview published in a March 2013 issue of SFX, Kevin Feige discussed Guardians of the Galaxy in relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "It’s much more of a standalone film," said Feige. "It takes place in the same universe. And when we’ve been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what’s happening out there at this time." Feige also stated that 95% of the film would take place in space. In mid-March, Dave Bautista was signed to play Drax the Destroyer. Other actors who had been considered for the role included Isaiah Mustafa, Brian Patrick Wade and Jason Momoa. A week later it was reported that sculptor Brian Muir, who sculpted Darth Vader's mask for the Star Wars films, was working on the film.
In April 2013, Zoe Saldana entered into negotiations to star as Gamora in the film. A few weeks later, Michael Rooker joined the film's cast, as Yondu. Later in the month, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Saldana would star in the film, and reported that Ophelia Lovibond had been cast in a supporting role. The next day, it was reported that Lee Pace was in final negotiations to play the villain of the film. In May, HitFix reported that Marvel had offered John C. Reilly the role of Rhomann Dey, a character who the site described as a "human agent who serves as a go-between, keeping the Guardians in line and reporting to S.H.I.E.L.D. about their activities." The site also reported that the filmmakers were looking at actors, including Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, and Ken Watanabe, for another role, and that Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were polishing the script. A few days later, Glenn Close was cast as the head of the Nova Corps in the film, followed shortly after by the casting of Karen Gillan as the film's lead female villain. In June 2013, it was reported that Benicio del Toro was cast in the film. Later in the month, Deadline.com confirmed that Reilly had been cast as Rhomann Dey.
Filming began on July 6, 2013 under the supposed working title of "Full Tilt".(citation needed) On July 20, 2013, James Gunn and the film's cast flew from London to attend the San Diego Comic-Con International, where it was revealed that Lee Pace would play Ronan the Accuser, Karen Gillan would be Nebula, Benicio del Toro as The Collector, and that Djimon Hounsou had been cast as Korath the Pursuer. It was later revealed that Glenn Close would play Nova Prime. Also at San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige stated that Thanos would be a part of the film as the "mastermind". On August 11 2013, filming began at London's Millennium Bridge. On the same day, Deadline.com reported that Vin Diesel is in talks to voice Groot, after being approached in early July by Marvel for a role in one of their films. On August 22, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Marvel Studios is in talks with Bradley Cooper to voice Rocket Raccoon. On August 27, 2013, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Diesel stated that he was originally in talks to star in a new Phase 3 Marvel film, but after hearing fan reaction at Comic-Con, Marvel presented him with the opportunity to voice Groot, as well as provide the motion capture for the character. On August 30, 2013, Marvel officially confirmed Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon. On September 3, Gunn tweeted that 66.3% of filming has been completed. On September 5, 2013, Diesel confirmed in a interview with Maria Menounos on her YouTube channel that he's voicing Groot.
In November 2013, Gunn stated that he attempted to use as many practical effects as possible when filming to aid in the use of CGI, saying, "Our sets are enormous. We have a prison that is 350,000 pounds of steel. Anybody who knows me knows I love the mix of practical and CGI effects... I can't wait for people to see it, because it's astonishingly beautiful." After it was revealed in Thor: The Dark World that the Tesseract and Aether were Infinity Stones, Feige stated that the Stones would be a focus in the film, as well as going forward into Phase Three. In a separate interview for The Dark World, Feige added that a third, unknown Infinity Stone would be revealed in the film.
In August 2013, Gunn posted on this Facebook page that Tyler Bates would be composing the film's score. Gunn stated that Bates will write some of the score first so that he can film to the music, opposed to scoring to the film.
In July 2013, producer Kevin Feige, director James Gunn, and cast members Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Dave Bautista, Benicio Del Toro, Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou held a panel at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International and presented footage from the film. In August, Feige presented the same footage at Disney's D23 Expo. Also in August, Disney partnered with Mad Engine, C-Life and New Era to produce merchandise for the film. Mad Engine and C-Life were partnered as the core apparel outfitters, producing a line of t-shirts and fleece jackets, while New Era will produce headwear and hats. The companies were joined by Hasbro, Disguise, and Sideshow Collectibles, who will produce toys, costumes and collectibles for the film.
- The first non-Avengers Marvel property developed by Walt Disney Pictures.
- Although the Guardians of the Galaxy were created way back in 1969 by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the movie will be primarily focused on the 2008 reinvention of the team by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
- Joel Edgerton, Eddie Redmayne, Jensen Ackles, Lee Pace, Wes Bentley, Jack Huston, Cam Gigandet, Sullivan Stapleton, Logan Marshall-Green, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Lowell, James Marsden, Jim Sturgess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aaron Paul, Michael Rosenbaum and John Krasinski auditioned and screen tested for the role of Peter Quill/ Star Lord. Pace was cast as Ronan the Accuser.
- The Guardians of the Galaxy is primarily based on the 2008 comic team (Star-Lord, Gamora, Nova, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot), but features Yondu, a member of the original 1969 comic team.
- Olivia Wilde turned down the role of Gamora, while Gina Carano, Rachel Nichols and Adrianne Palicki auditioned before the role went to Zoe Saldana.
- According to producer Victoria Alonso, Rocket Raccoon and Groot will be created through a mix of motion-capture and rotomation VFX.
- Iron Man was planned to have a cameo role in this film (in homage to his being the Guardians' latest member in the comics), but this was scrapped when Robert Downey Jr. said he may not reprise his role as Tony Stark in any non-Avengers film.
- To prepare for the role of Nebula, Karen Gillan shaved her head.
- According to the filmmakers, Rocket Raccoon in this film is a unique product of experimentation: "He's a little animal that was taken and experimented on and pulled apart and put back together again and implanted with cybernetics and he's half-machine and half-raccoon. And he's a gnarled, miserable, angry creature because there's nothing else like him. And that's something not easy to be."
- Director James Gunn cites "Iron Man" as an influence on the film: "we are starting Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is Marvel Cosmic. And we're doing exactly what they did with the first Iron Man film."
- When attending the 18th Nantucket Film Festival, Glenn Close stated that she only agreed to star in the film since "it will then afford me to go do the other kind of movies that I really love". However, she followed it up by saying; "And hopefully I will have a great time. It'll be a new experience for me, but practically speaking it will mean that I can do those smaller movies and it'll be okay."
- According to Kevin Feige, Peter Quill left earth in the mid-80's but by the beginning of the film he's "very much a citizen of the universe", Gamora is initially introduced as a villain working with Ronan and Nebula whilst being associated with Thanos and has a reputation as the deadliest woman in the galaxy, Drax is on a hunt to kill Ronan because of a past tragedy, Rocket Raccoon has been genetically and mechanically altered due to being an experiment from one part of the galaxy and Groot is a species that happens to look like trees and is somewhat communicative if one can understand the different inflections in the way he says "I am Groot".
- Regarding the villains, Kevin Feige stated that Ronan the Accuser is intended to be the main villain of the film yet Thanos is lurking above it all, also revealing that the audience will learn more of him beyond his brief appearance/smirk at the end of The Avengers.
- Kevin stated the movie won't exactly reveal what year or month it takes place in relation to the other Phase Two films but it is definitely taking place around the same time.
- James Gunn has stated on his Facebook page that unlike most films, Tyler Bates would write some of the score so the director could film to the music.
- Adam Sandler, David Tennant, Sharlto Copley, Jim Carrey and H. Jon Benjamin were amongst the actors considered to voice Rocket Raccoon.
- Glenn Howerton auditioned for the role of Star-Lord.
- When Karen Gillan was announced to star in the film, it was rumored that was she was going to play Angela, a sword wielding bounty hunter from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic books. But the Scottish actress was cast in the role of the brutal space pirate Nebula and shaved off her hair for the role.
- All characters are new in the cinematic universe except for The Collector (Marvel) who first appeared in Thor: The Dark World.
The film received critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating with an average rating of 7.81/10 based on 322 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect—as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 76 out of 100 based on 46 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews." CinemaScore audiences gave Guardians of the Galaxy an "A" grade rating on an A+ to F scale, while earning an "A+" among under-18 and 25–34 year old viewers.