GALAXY GUIDE #12: Bendis And McNiven Go Galactic

Announced at the New York Comic Con this past weekend, writer Brian Bendis and artist Steve McNiven will be teaming up to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy back to their own monthly series, spinning out of their appearance in Bendis’ Avengers Assemble series. This week in Galaxy Guide, we’re going to examine the implications of this new series, and Bendis’ plans for it, for the upcoming Guardians film.

The selection of Brian Bendis to write the new Guardians series is particularly significant, because Bendis is a member of Marvel Studios’ Creative Committee, a group of comics-savvy individuals who consult on the Marvel films and try to ensure that the characters’ portrayals are true to the comics. In interviews following the announcement, Bendis revealed that it was precisely this connection that led to him writing the Guardians comic.

“That work [with the Marvel Creative Committee] involves projects that everyone knows are in development, plus a bunch of stuff people don’t know about, where Marvel is deciding if it’s something they want to do,” Bendis told Comic Book Resources. Expounding on that to Newsarama, he added “For the last year or two, we’ve been going over the characters, and talking about them, and thinking about ’What kind of movie would it be?'” Given his intimate involvement with the movie’s development, it seems likely that the comic will achieve a high degree of synergy with the film, perhaps providing some clues as to the film’s content.

The key premise behind the new Guardians of the Galaxy comic is that alien species from around the universe have come to see Earth as a potential source of trouble, given the high number of cosmic threats originating from it. They conclude that some of this is due to meddling by aliens on Earth, and thus Earth is declared off-limits, with the Guardians appointed to guard it. What little information that has come out about the plot of the Guardians film, primarily from a logline that describes it as “About a U.S. pilot who ends up in space in the middle of a universal conflict and goes on the run with futuristic ex-cons who have something everyone wants,” would not seem to be in line with Bendis’ plans for the comic series. But putting aside questions about that logline’s provenance, Bendis also describes his Guardians as “living the pirate’s life”, a portrayal which could synch up with the description of the Guardians as “ex-cons” in the purported logline.

Indeed, several of the Guardians have spent time in prison in the comics, so this “rogue” aspect of their characters may well be played up in both the film and the new comic series. He also refers to them as “damaged characters”, with personal problems that create conflict within the team, but also provide them with something to struggle to rise above. If the Guardians of the movie are indeed ex-cons, that could suggest an arc of redemption for the film’s characters. And perhaps giving some indication of the tone the movie may strive for, Bendis explained that his series will differ from the hardcore sci-fi of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and take more of a space opera, character-focused approach akin to Star Wars or Firefly.

The concept art released for the film suggests a line-up including Star-Lord, Drax The Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. This nearly mirrors the line-up Bendis introduced in the pages of Avengers Assemble, with the notable absence of the insectoid warrior known as Bug. Bug is a former member of the Micronauts, a licensed property which Marvel published in the 1980s. Certain members of the Micronauts can no longer appear in Marvel comics because they no longer hold the license, and although that seemingly hasn’t affected Bug, it’s possible that such legal entanglements might lead Marvel Studios to shy away from including him in the film.

For their new series, Bendis has revealed that he’s adding one more member to the team: Tony Stark, who joins out of his desire to explore new frontiers. Given the hefty salary that Robert Downey Jr. commands, it seems unlikely that Tony Stark will play a major role in the Guardians’ film, but one aspect that has been a hallmark of the Marvel films is the use of cameos to seed connections between the films. Samuel L. Jackson made cameos in most of the individual character movies leading up to “The Avengers,” and even Downey Jr. made an appearance in 2008’s “Incredible Hulk.” And with the revelation of Thanos being behind the Chitauri invasion of Earth in “The Avengers,” there is a natural point of connection which would give Iron Man an interest in learning about what lies beyond the stars.

One character that has particularly captured Bendis’ interest is Star-Lord, whose origin will be the subject of the upcoming Marvel NOW Point One issue. This dovetails with the purported logline for the movie, with its suggested focuses on a “U.S. pilot”. For Bendis, one of the most interesting parts of Star-Lord’s character is his relationship with his father, whom he discovers is the king of an alien race known as the Spartoi. If that aspect makes it into the film, it could well explain how Star-Lord ends up in space and connects with the rest of the Guardians. Bendis is also interested in Gamora’s relationship with her father Thanos, providing another possible point of connection with the Avengers film.

The Guardians film is still a little less than 2 years away, so there’s clearly a lot more that needs to come out about the film before we can conclude whether or not the comic will truly reflect the film. But with the comic’s writer playing a key role in Marvel Studios’ decision to make the Guardians their next film franchise, readers would be wise to keep an eye on this new Guardians of the Galaxy series for clues as to what to expect from the film.

Our weekly Galaxy Guide takes you through the cosmic side of comic book movies, from “Guardians of the Galaxy” to infinity and beyond. Tell us what you think in the comments section or on Twitter!

Previous Galaxy Guides:
» Thanos’ Greatest Schemes
» Who is Rocket Raccoon?
» Who is Groot?
» Who is Gamora?
» Who is Drax the Destroyer?
» Who is Star-Lord?
» Plotting a Course for “Guardians”
» Gunning for the “Guardians”
» Surfing Across Universes
» Who Should Direct The “Guardians” Movie?
» Who Are The Guardians Of The Galaxy?