Both Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director James Gunn have consistently stated the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was inspired by the 2008 comic book of the same name by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
DnA, as the Marvel Cosmic duo are known to their fans, even visited the set of the Guardians and got an invite to the world premiere.
So the movie part of Marvel and Disney give Abnett and Lanning a lot of kudos (rightfully so). James Gunn even got DnA back on the comic book movie adaptation.
The same can't be said for the Marvel Comics side of things as DnA were taken off the Guardians of the Galaxy comic in 2010 (when the movie was greenlit), the series was cancelled, and all their other Marvel Cosmic books were stopped as well, which included Nova, the character that spearheaded the Guardians of the Galaxy team book.
Nova was eventually highjacked by Jeph Loeb, who replaced the character with an idiot (his own words), which has been described as a Spider-Man Luke Skywalker character by Marvel Comics EIC Axel Alonso. Brian Michael Bendis highjacked the Guardians of the Galaxy concept, which arguably has been a consistent seller, but as #2 at Marvel, Tom Brevoort, stated: It has nothing to do with Bendis, but everything to do with interest in the movie.
And it's gotten so bad, that shortly after Loeb's Nova (nicknamed NINO - Nova In Name Only - by fans) was launched, Loeb was announced off the book with the publication of the second issue. Sales for the book as of issue #3 were already below the previous Abnett and Lanning run, and the DnA Nova (as well as Guardians of the Galaxy) didn't get any attention by Marvel PR.
On the comic book sales charts, NINO has already fallen below the top 100 mark as well -- even though Marvel has given NINO everything that Richard Rider did not: appearances in big crossovers, multiple variant covers, A-list artists and writers, cartoon appearances, etc.
It's pretty simple: NINO is a failure.
What's this all leading to?
Well, it has become known that Richard Rider Nova was in early drafts of the Guardians of the Galaxy script.
Kevin Feige recently told Screen Crush that Richard Rider was a part of Guardians of the Galaxy, but due to a "fork in the road," they didn't use him.
There were some thoughts to it, yes, back in early drafts in the early development stage. But, there was a fork in the road that we came to at one point in the development process where we decided to eliminate Nova and go full-on with Peter Quill’s story.
It's possible the fork in the road may have been a result of Jeph Loeb, Axel Alonso, Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada replacing Richard Rider with NINO.
And a big problem for Loeb - assuming he is trying to push NINO into the Marvel Cinematic Universe - is that Marvel Studios follows a specific plan in that they feel if they can please the Marvel loyalists, the movies will follow suit and do well.
Ironically enough, check out Joe Quesada's own words:
“Really, you have to start with the loyalists,” Quesada said. “If the loyalists reject it, then we feel that everyone is going to reject it.”
Looking at the big picture, if NINO is already selling less than Richard Rider, and the fans aren't happy - and Gunn and Feige are well aware of it - the loyalists have rejected it and a movie with NINO wouldn't be the way to go.
Long live Richard Rider.