(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of irregularly-scheduled op-ed columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with the issues of today’s comic book world from the perspective of a 53-year-old and aging fanboy. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of Cosmic Book News. He welcomes both raves and opposing views in the CBN Forum.)
Why would Marvel/Disney movie makers use the original Guardians of the Galaxy to star in a new sci-fi blockbuster rather than our much-beloved gang of upstart thugs gathered by Star-Lord in 2008 after the Annihilation Wars?
Here is one M.E.’s opinion:
The original team, of course, first appeared in the partial reprint title Marvel Super-Heroes with issue #18 (January 1969), written by Arnold Drake and penciled by the late great Gene Colan. They appeared sporadically in several Marvel titles until the creative Steve Gerber got hold of them with Giant-Size Defenders #5 which continued into Defenders #26-29 (July-November 1975). The team, busy battling the Badoon, took off from there and has been seen in several incarnations, including the versions by scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA) during their Guardians of the Galaxy run.
The original Guardians team, of course, is active in the 31st century in an alternate timeline of the Marvel Universe (Earth-691), which would give movie makers a freer hand at sci-fi since there would be no ties to modern-day Earth or its heroes and, if a series developed, would lend itself to time travel tales ala the well-remembered whale episode of the Star Trek movie franchise. Even though Star-Lord and crew were off in faraway space, that present day albatross would always be there, IMHO.
Also, take a look at the members of the original team: Major Vance Astro, an astronaut from the 20th century Earth who spends a thousand years traveling to Alpha Centauri in suspended animation; Martinex T’Naga, a crystalline being from Pluto; Charlie-27, a mighty-muscled soldier from Jupiter; and Yondu Udonta, a blue-skinned archer from Beta Centauri IV.
Each is apparently the last of their kind and is forced to unite as a team against the actions of the Badoon, an alien race which attempts to conquer Earth's solar system. During the course of the war against the Badoon, the team recruits two more members – the mysterious Starhawk and the female Nikki of Mercury.
See, except for Yondu, all members come from nearby planets a majority of the audience is familiar with. These characters are easily explainable, not too far off in appearance to terrans today (Martinex and Yondu the great exceptions) and are beings to whom your average joe can relate.
These characters also lend themselves well to the computer-generated animation treatment ala Cartoon Network’s new Green Lantern: The Animated Series. I can see Yondu firing his bow and arrow and Charlie bouncing around lighter-grav planets now in “mental animation.”
By contrast, many of the cast of DnA’s comic have complex histories, less-than-Disneylike personalities and more than a baggage of complex but necessary continuity that comes with them. Admit it: Gamora, Drax, Peter Quill … they just would not be the same characters without their particular curses in life, and we do not really want to see faux-DnA on the screen, do we?
A Captain America-ish Star-Lord, a Wolverine-ish Drax … these are but surface characterizations. But with the original clan, there is not that problem because they are what you see: survivors of their worlds in the time of the Badoon.
Also, that same Badoon threat – like Khan of Star Trek or Darth Vader of Star Wars – gives the Guardians of Olde a clear and present danger, one that can be beaten but one that takes its toll as well. No threat except V’ger was what made the original Trek movie reuniting that original cast so bland. Luckily, Khan came along in No. 2 and – blast off!
Now there are some characters in the DnA canon which may work with the originals: Bug comes to mind as do Groot, Cosmo and our boy Rocket Raccoon.
Perhaps I will be proven wrong – it has happened, BION – and we will see Knowhere on the silver screen with Peter and his ragtag group of misfit toys once again guarding our galaxy.
Me? I would much rather have the comic series back, and maybe a movie or toon starring the originals is a way to do just that. There may be a method in Marvel’s madness yet …
… I, knowing Marvel ED these days, just doubt it.