We bring you the facts about Marvel’s new space epic…

Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is released in Irish cinemas this week, and we are so dangerously excited about the movie, we decided to gather together some facts about the franchise to tide us (and you) over…

1/ Comic Book Origins
The Guardians Of The Galaxy first appeared in January 1969 in ‘Marvel Super-Heroes’ issue #18, they appeared in numerous Marvel comic titles battling alongside Captain America, The Thing, Thor, The Avengers and Ms. Marvel before getting their own self-titled comic 21 years later in 1990.

2/ Who’s on the team?
The movie released this month features only one of the original 1969 line-up. Michael Rooker will play Yondu Undonta, a founding member of the original Guardians Of The Galaxy. The movie will focus on the modern Guardians team from 2008 that was made up of lesser-known Marvel characters Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax The Destroyer and Groot.

3/ Star-Lord
Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians is a half-human half-alien hybrid who, upon discovering his alien physiology, took to space as the heroic Star-Lord. He’s played by ‘Parks & Recreation’ star Chris Pratt. Director James Gunn was so impressed by Chris Pratt’s audition that he wanted to offer him the role even if Pratt did not lose weight and get in shape in time. Gunn joked that he was willing to CGI a six pack on Pratt’s body.

4/ Groot
Groot first appeared in 1960 in ‘Tales To Astonish #13’, he’s an extraterrestrial, sentient tree-like creature originally introduced as a villain but after being exiled from his planet began working with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The comics have gone back and forth about his speech capabilities; some books depict him as being articulate, while others limit his speech to only saying three words ‘I am Groot’… Commenting on Vin Diesel voicing Groot, producer Kevin Feige said, “When I called him and asked if he would be interested in playing a character that’s a tree and says only three words, without hesitation he said, ‘I’m in.'”

5/ Gamora
Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana in the movie is the adopted daughter of Thanos, the classic Marvel villain who we saw on screen during the closing credits of MARVEL’S AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. She first appeared in 1975 in Strange Tales #180. Her powers include superhuman strength and an accelerated healing factor. Over the years she has moved between acts of good and evil depending on her whims and fancy.

6/ Drax The Destroyer
Drax first appeared amongst the pages of ‘Iron Man’ in 1973, his alter ego Arthur Douglas was a human whose family was killed by super villain Thanos (him again!). He was created to destroy Thanos after his spirit was placed into a powerful new body with enhanced strength, flight, and the ability to project energy blasts from his hands. In the movie he is portrayed by Dave Bautista, a former WWE championship wrestler.

7/ Rocket Raccoon
Rocket Raccoon’s debut came in 1976, in the pages of the Prince Wayfinder feature in “Marvel Preview” #7, a black-and-white science fiction comic book. His name and aspects of his character are a nod to the Beatles’ 1968 song “Rocky Raccoon”. Producer Kevin Feige says he decided to cast Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket while watching his scenes with De Niro in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.

8/ Doctor Who
Karen Gillan who played Doctor Who’s sidekick Amy Pond will portray Nebula, a blue-skinned assassin. The actress revealed she had shaved her head for the role when she whipped off her wig at Comic Con in San Diego, drawing gasps from the crowd. “I was totally liberated by the experience. It’s a whole identity change and I found that it helped me inhabit the character by morphing my own appearance that dramatically,” revealed Gillan.

9/ Stan Lee
Stan Lee disappointed fans earlier in the year when he said he wouldn’t be making his traditional cameo in a Marvel movie. “That’s the one group I didn’t create,” he explained “I didn’t write Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not even sure who they all are. I can’t wait to see the movie.” However it appears the comic veteran was misdirecting fans, he let slip last month that he has indeed filmed a sneaky cameo that will appear in the movie.

10/ When Can I See It?
Ireland is one of the first countries in the world to debut the film; it hits our screens on July 31st