If there’s one thing about Marvel’s cinematic reign that’s been particularly surprising, it’s probably the wild success of the Guardians of the Galaxy films. While certainly not unpopular, the Guardians comics are something of a Marvel offshoot – at least by comparison to mainstream hero storylines and core Avengers-related issues.
Despite this, the films have attained ludicrous success. Volumes 1 and 2 together raked in a little more than $1.6 billion at the box office (Vol. 3 already brought in just under $600 million); their soundtracks trended on streaming platforms and introduced decades-old hits to younger generations; and they made stars of an animated space raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree. Above all else, they’re the most purely fun films in the MCU to date.
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Because the success of Guardians more or less came out of nowhere though, we suspect that even big MCU fans still know relatively little about what’s behind this squad of Marvel heroes, both on the page and on the screen.
So below, we want to present to you a list of 24 fun Guardians of the Galaxy facts – here’s what Tell Tales discovered about everybody’s favorite rag-tag space heroes.
1. Vin Diesel Wore Stilts While Voice Acting Groot
You may have heard that Vin Diesel recorded his “I am Groot” line more than 1,000 times, and in numerous languages. This is one of the more popular fun facts about the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
What you may not have heard however, is that Diesel also did some of this recording while wearing stilt-like contraptions on his legs. We guess this helped him feel more like a large talking tree. That’s some pretty serious dedication for a voice-acting role.
2. Jason Momoa Was Originally Meant to Play Drax
In the lead up to Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1, Jason Momoa was on a path to superstardom. He was fresh off a beloved role as Khal Drogo on Game Of Thrones, and seemed destined for major film parts. Sure enough, he auditioned to play Drax in Volume 1, and was reportedly offered the role. He decided against it though, clearing the lane for Drax (with Momoa eventually signing on to play Aquaman for DC, instead).
3. The Original Guardians Were A Whole Different Group
When MCU fans think of the Guardians, five characters come to mind: Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Drax, and Gomora. But in the comics, the original Guardians were a whole different team. Specifically, in its 1969 comic debut, the squad consisted of Stakar, Vance Astro, Captain Charlie-27, Martinex T’Naga, and Yondu.
In fact, GotG Vol. 2 and Vol.3 featured and re-imagined some of these characters as members of the Ravagers – Sylvester Stallone played Stakar in Vol 1. & 2, Charlie-27 was portrayed by Ving Rhames during a mid-credits scene in Vol.2, and Martinex T’Naga was played by Michael Rosenbaum in both Volumes.
4. Bug Almost Made It Into The Movies
Another interesting Guardian from the comics is Bug – a Marvel character derived from a Micronauts hero named Galactic Warrior. James Gunn expressed an interest in working Bug into the films, but revealed that Disney/Marvel did not own the rights to do so. The way Marvel has been snatching up character rights though (see: Sony and Fox character infusions), who’s to say Bug won’t eventually be on the table?
5. Miley Cyrus Had a Secret Cameo in ‘Volume.2’
Say what, now? Indeed, pop star Miley Cyrus had a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. In what way does the controversial celeb correlate to Marvel, you may ask? Miley secretly cameoed in the post-credit scene where Stakar reunites with his Ravagers gang. You may recall that robotic head (Mainframe) who says “I’ve missed you guys so much” – well, that character was voiced by none other than Miley! #Mindblown
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6. Lee Pace Auditioned For Peter Quill
Lee Pace is not quite a household name, but he is a memorable actor – the tall, strapping, and deep-voiced man who played Ronan the Accuser in the MCU. Okay, so it’s not exactly anybody’s favorite Marvel villain, but we can blame that on the writing and character concept.
Pace is an excellent actor (particularly good in Lincoln), which is why it’s fascinating to know that he originally auditioned for Peter Quill. We’re not sure he’d have brought the same level of humor to the role – which is pretty crucial – but Pace-as-Quill makes for an interesting alternate history to consider nonetheless.
7. Rocket Raccoon Was Based On A Real Raccoon
Studios can do anything they want with animation these days, right? We’re not wrong. But in the case of Rocket Raccoon, however, there was actually a real-life raccoon who served as visual inspiration for the character design. His name was Oreo, and per his numerous obituaries (he sadly left us in 2019), he lived on a farm in Portugal with his “raccoon pal Stanley.” RIP, Oreo!
8. He Was Also Based on Joe Pesci
Here’s a fun fact that totally makes sense now! While Oreo was the visual inspiration for Rocket Raccoon, the voice and attitude were derived from quite a different source. Bradley Cooper (who voices Rocket) has said that after an initial plan to imitate the voice of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood, he wound up infusing Rocket with a dose of Joe Pesci (of Goodfellas fame). It’s not an exact imitation, but once you know, you can hear it.
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9. The “Kraglin” Actor is James Gunn’s Brother…And He Voiced Rocket
Dedicated Marvel fans might already know this behind-the-scenes fact. The actor who plays Kraglin, Sean Gunn, is actually James Gunn’s brother. That’s not all. He also had the opportunity to voice the younger Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, alongside Bradley Cooper who is the voice actor for the older version of the racoon.
11. Karen Gillan Had a Wig Of Her Own Shaved Hair
As you may know if you’ve ever followed press tours and the likes, Karen Gillan fully committed to the role of Nebula by shaving her head for the part. We have to admire the dedication given that a bald cap probably would have done just fine. What likely made things a little easier for Gillan, however, is that she was given a wig – made from her own hair that she shaved off for the role!
12. Groot Was Originally A Giant Monster
Groot actually has a pretty complicated comic background. He appeared before any other Guardians as a sort of black sheep among Planet X’s “Flora Colossi” (super-smart giant tree monsters, basically). He was reimagined a few times over the decades, ultimately joining the Guardians in the “Annihilation: Conquest” run.
Interestingly enough, Groot’s early history reveals that “I am Groot” is not a literal phrase, but rather just what it sounds like Flora Colossi are saying when they speak. Bonus fun fact? Groot means “big” in Dutch and Afrikaans.
13. Drax Was Originally A Man
This cool fact about the Guardians of the Galaxy character may surprise you. While Groot began as a giant alien monster, Drax started off as a man. He was a real-estate agent named Arthur Douglas (seriously), who was murdered by Thanos. The long and short of it is that Thanos’ father Mentor and his father Kronos salvaged Douglas’ soul and created Drax. His purpose (as we sort of see in the films) is to hunt and destroy Thanos.
14. The ‘Volume.1’ Blu-ray Features 8-bit Cartoon Interludes
Okay, so Blu-ray is quickly fading into the VHS/DVD heaps of history. If you still have a Blu-ray player however, you might want to pick up a copy of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1 for it. This is because it contains special features in the form of 8-bit cartoons that reimagine aspects of the film – complete with little pixelated cameos from the likes of director James Gunn and Marvel boss Kevin Feige (and Thanos of course). They’re kind of great.
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15. Director James Gunn Did The Groot Dance
One of the true fan-favorite moments from the Guardians portion of the MCU is when Baby Groot helps to open Volume.2 with a dance. And as it turns out, it was none other than Gunn himself who actually did the dancing for the motion capture. Here’s a video comparing Gunn’s work to the finished product. #Awesome
16. … And Rewarded His Cast With Play-Doh
Gunn’s playful approach on the GotG sets has extended beyond his decision to handle the Groot dance on his own. He also apparently has a habit of rewarding his cast and crew members with Play-Doh when he’s pleased with their work:
“I would keep a pile of little Play-Doh containers onset and if someone did an especially amazing job that day – whether it was an actor, a grip, a stunt man, or a PA (production assistant) – they’d get a canister of Play-Doh,” he said.
It’s a bizarre tactic, but Gunn has explained that by only doing this on rare occasions, he turned his little containers of Play-Doh into coveted trophies and incentivized good performance. Whatever works!
17. Several Major Actors Nearly Played Ego
For a while, we were used to huge almost-cast lists for Marvel projects. Somewhere along the line though, so many of Hollywood’s most famous stars appeared in films (right down to Matt Damon cameos) that these lists became less interesting.
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 2 is an exception though, particularly when it comes to the role of Ego. While Kurt Russell wound up playing the part, actors like Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ron Perlman were all on the list. Frankly, we could imagine just about any of them in the role.
18. Cosmo the Dog is Based on a Real Dog
Those familiar with the GotG comics will know that Rocket Raccoon is not the only intelligent animal associated with the team. As seen in the GotG Holiday Special, as well as Vol.3, there is also Cosmo – a dog launched into space by the Russians in the ‘60s who gained psychic powers. Like in the films, Cosmo resides on Knowhere in the comics and assists the Guardians at times.
Believe it or not, this superhero animal is actually based on the true story of Laika, a stray dog sent to space by the USSR, but as expected, didn’t survive. Luckily, Cosmo’s fate is a lot happier than her poor real-life counterpart.
19. Chris Pratt’s Influences Were Unintentional
It’s often said that Chris Pratt based his Peter Quill/Star-Lord performance on the iconic Star Wars character, Han Solo. It’s also believed that Marty McFly (from Back To The Future) was influential. Pratt told Screenrant, however, that these comparisons are not the result of an intentional effort. He was flattered by the idea that some saw those characters in his performance, but was really just trying to do his own thing.
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20. Iron Man Is A Guardian In The Comics
In the MCU, Iron Man has functioned as the core of the Avengers. He’s partnered with just about every other hero for one task or another, and has of course, worked with the Guardians at times. A 2013 issue of the Guardians comics, however, introduced a thread in which Iron Man actually leaves Earth to work as one of the Guardians for a while. The ship’s probably sailed as far as seeing this extensive team-up on screen… but it would make for a fun surprise in Volume 3!
21. Will Poulter Was Picked to Play Adam Warlock For a Reason
One of the best parts of Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 3 was the introduction of the mighty comic villain/hero Adam Warlock, played by the brilliant Will Poulter. To many, this casting sounded like a bizarre choice as Poulter is usually associated with goofy, funny movie roles. James Gunn, however, defended his casting decision, saying:
“…He’s definitely not a good guy. What we’re seeing is the infant form of Adam Warlock, newly out of the cocoon, and he does not understand life very well. He’s basically a baby. People online were saying ‘Oh, Tom Cruise should be Adam Warlock’. I wanted somebody who was youthful, and I wanted somebody who had the dramatic chops and the comedic chops, not only for this movie but for what Marvel will use Adam Warlock for in the future. He could become this really important character.”
Indeed, Poulter made an exciting addition to the MCU by playing Warlock, who is legitimately one of the most powerful characters Marvel has to offer.
22. ‘Volume 1’ Was Scored In Advance
Needless to say, these movies have gotten a lot of attention for their soundtracks. But the original score for Volume.1 is also somewhat remarkable as it was developed before the film. James Gunn and Col. asked composer Tyler Bates to make the music, and then built scenes around it. This is not entirely unheard of (Christopher Nolan famously gives Hans Zimmer only little bits of plot or theme to score), but it’s not the normal order of things. Typically, the score is made to suit existing material.
23. ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 1’ Reached #1 On The Charts
As for that famous soundtrack though, our final interesting fact about the Guardians of the Galaxy is that Awesome Mix Vol. 1 did top the charts – most notably the Billboard 200 in the U.S. This had never happened before with a full soundtrack of existing music, and certainly backed up Peter Quill’s enthusiasm for his favorite tape! (Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and Awesome Mix Vol. 3 were pretty strong too, but not quite up to the original.)
24. Filmmakers Created the Language for the Humanimals in ‘Vol.3’
The humanimals seen in Volume 3 had a funny way of speaking – as a matter of fact, it’s an actual language – made up by the filmmakers, of course. Like Game of Thrones has its Dothraki language, and Lord of the Rings has languages of Middle-earth, Guardians of the Galaxy has “Orbose”. This language is used by the human animals seen in Vol.3, with words including “joob,” which means “friend”, and “domo,” which means “run”.
25. Fans Get to Finally Understand What Groot is Saying
Ever since we first met Groot in Volume 1, we’ve never understood anything the giant tree hero has said, except for “I am Groot”. While the Guardians have always known what Groot was saying all along, we’ve been oblivious to his dialogue. Finally, in Volume 3, however, we hear the Flora colossi say, “I love you guys” to his friends, right at the very end of the movie.
James Gunn confirmed that Groot didn’t actually speak English, though – it was a way for the audience to finally understand his language and feel a part of Guardians of the Galaxy family.
In the comics and films alike, the Guardians are a consistent source of amusement and excitement, so we hope these interesting bits of facts and trivia have made Marvel’s lovable bunch of space ruffians all the more fun.
What’s your favorite Guardians of the Galaxy fact? Know any other trivia about the bunch? Let us know in the comments below…
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