The Secret Formula of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Movies

The Guardians of the Galaxy have become fan-favorites of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite being rather unheard of compared to their fellow Marvel Comics heroes, their MCU versions have become household names. They’ve appeared in several installments in the shared movie universe, and there’s been a bit of an interesting formula used for each of those appearances. Each movie they’re featured in follows the story of a different member of their team.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy film served as an introduction to the characters and that part of the Marvel universe. That’s mainly what it needed to be. The formula doesn’t start here because its purpose is solely to introduce the world to these takes on the characters, which is especially important since most people weren’t familiar with them from the comics books. This movie allowed audiences to get to know the team and grow to love them so that when future projects focused on different members they were worth caring for.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is where the formula truly began, and it’s all about the team’s leader, Star-Lord. The film explores his past more, has him come face to face with his birth father, and has him realize what it is he truly cares about. Sure, the others are there, get a lot of screen time, and add a lot to the movie, but the story is primarily about Star-Lord.

 The Guardians’ next big screen appearance was in Avengers: Infinity War. Sure, the movie features a lot of Marvel characters, but out of the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora gets more of the spotlight. Her childhood home is shown, along with Thanos eradicating half of her people and “adopting” her. After years of torment, Infinity War shows Gamora stand up to her father. It inevitably ends tragically for her, but we see her grow and confront the source of the problems in her life.

Following Infinity War is Avengers: Endgame. Once again, there are tons of Marvel heroes shown throughout, but we’re only looking at the Guardians for this. It’s Nebula’s turn this time around. Despite being a meaner character, she keeps Tony Stark alive while they are trapped in space together and helps the Avengers during their time heist of the Infinity Stones. She grows so much as a character that she literally kills the more evil version of herself from the alternate/past timeline. It’s a brutal metaphor for how far she’s come, but it’s effective.

Groot doesn’t necessarily need a whole lot of story since he just says “I am Groot” and mostly is an extension of Rocket, but he does star in his very own Disney+ TV series called I Am Groot. Each short episode has Groot (in his baby form) go on various adventures and get into big trouble. It’s mostly just to be cute and funny, but the series is all about Groot as he grows and figures out the world around him.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a charming Christmas special that primarily follows Drax and Mantis as they head to Earth to kidnap the actor Kevin Bacon as a present for Peter. Drax’s backstory is that he lost his family and wants to avenge them. Since Thanos met his demise, he can finally move on. That’s exactly what he does with his partnership with Mantis. This special also finally gives Mantis the screen time to showcase what her powers can really do as well as reveal a crucial aspect of her past. It’s because of this TV special that she feels like a true member of the team.

The Guardians did make an appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder, but it was essentially just a small cameo. They have some good moments and lines, but they barely get any screen time.

Finally, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 is Rocket’s story. His past is explored more than ever, and he carries most of the emotional weight of the film. Once again, the team all gets their time to shine, but Rocket’s the one who takes the lead. He was originally a bit of a jerk to those around him, but this movie gives an insight as to why he may have been so standoffish at first and shows him grow as a character.

Kraglin doesn’t quite have a project to focus on his story. Sorry, Kraglin fans. At least he has some great story and moments on the side.

This is all a genuinely fascinating way to tell a story within an on-going or long-lasting franchise. It would be really cool to see this formula explored in other franchises in the future, both in and out of the MCU.



  1. […] The Guardians of the Galaxy have become beloved household names due to their memorable appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After almost a decade, the Guardians team as we know them are saying their goodbyes. Is their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, a proper send off to these fan-favorite characters? Let’s explore all the out-of-this-world details to find out. […]


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