Entertainment

Who's who in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'

Posted May 4

Without question, 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a risky move for Marvel. Not only did it feature a cast of entirely new heroes with essentially zero name recognition, but its two biggest stars, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, were playing a gun-toting CGI raccoon and a talking tree, respectively.

The fact that Rocket Raccoon and Groot have become household names is a testament to the inspired weirdness of “Guardians.”

Now, along with a brand new Awesome Mixtape, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” promises to introduce even more bizarre characters to the MCU.

To better appreciate just how crazy these movies are, here’s a rough guide to some of the new faces you can expect to see and a how the characters originally appeared in the comics.

Mantis (aka the Celestial Madonna, aka the Goddess of Life, aka Mandy Celestine)

Played by: Pom Klementieff

First appearance: “Avengers” #112, 1973

With psychic empathy (meaning she can sense someone’s emotions) and training in alien martial arts by Kree monks, one might be surprised to find out that Mantis originally appeared in the comics as a Vietnamese prostitute, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

However, her backstory was later retconned (retroactively changed) to reveal that she was, in fact, the daughter of a super-villain named Libra. Furthermore, she had been raised in an alien temple before having her brain wiped so she could be sent to Earth to get real-world experience. (Bear in mind, though, she was always human.)

Mantis goes on to join up with the Avengers after meeting and starting a relationship with the one longtime Avengers team member who makes even Hawkeye seem cool: Swordsman.

But Mantis’ big claim to fame came in something called the “Celestial Madonna” storyline in which it was revealed that she would mate with a sentient tree (unrelated to Groot) and give birth to the “most powerful being in the universe.”

Bizarrely, when Mantis’ creator, writer Steve Englehart left Marvel for DC, he took Mantis with him — well, kind of. Changing her name to Willow for legal reasons, he continued the storyline in a single issue of the Justice League. She then appeared one more time under yet another name, Lorelei, in an independent comic written by Englehart, before eventually finding her way back to Marvel, a young Celestial Messiah in tow.

In 2007, Mantis also made an appearance in the comic series that led to the creation of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy — the version of the group on which the 2014 movie team was modeled.

Ego the Living Planet

Played by: Kurt Russell

First appearance: "Thor” #132, 1966

Originally a space virus (ign.com) that grew so large it became sentient (and then kept growing until it was the size of a planet), Ego is pretty much exactly what his name implies.

Later on, his backstory was retconned to make him the product of a large-scale science experiment conducted by a character named the Stranger. This same experiment produced an evil twin planet/brother named Alter-Ego.

With powers including shapeshifting, telepathy and the ability to send out psionic blasts, he would be perfectly capable of holding his own even if he weren't literally the size of a planet complete with distinct climate zones.

But that’s not all. Thanks to a long-running feud with the planet-eating cosmic super-baddie Galactus, Ego had a spaceship’s “star drive” (moviepilot.com) wedged in his backside that allowed him to travel faster than the speed of light — that is, until it eventually blasted him into the sun and he died. No joke.

Don’t worry, though — comics being comics, Ego was resurrected not too long after.

Ayesha (aka Kismet, aka Her, aka J’Ridia Starduster, aka Paragon, aka She Who Must Be Obeyed)

Played by: Elizabeth Debicki

First appearance: “Incredible Hulk” Annual #6, 1977

More commonly referred to as either Kismet or just Her, the gold-skinned villainess that appears in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” as Ayesha (ign.com) was the product of some seriously misguided genetic experimentation conducted by a group of space scientists called the Enclave.

Actually, rewind a bit — Ayesha was the Enclave’s second crack at the experiment. The first time around yielded a cosmically super-powered being called Him (aka Adam Warlock, according to denofgeek.com), who emerged from his artificial cocoon and immediately turned on his creators and tried to kill them all. But, as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed ….

The second time around, a being called Paragon was born. But he decided he wasn’t quite done yet, so he went back inside his cocoon, and when he came out, he was Her.

Throughout a sizeable chunk of her subsequent comics appearances, Her’s main goal was to find and unite with Him. Minor obstacles like Him having just barely sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos got in the way, and she wound up settling for a human named Wendell Elvis Vaughn — he goes by Quasar.

Stakar Ogord (aka Starhawk)

Played by: Sylvester Stallone

First appearance: “Defenders” #27, 1975

Stakar’s comic background bears a few striking similarities to the MCU incarnation of Peter Quill. See if any of this sounds familiar: Half-human, half-space-something, he’s adopted by Reavers and grows up unaware of the fact that one of his parents is some kind of cosmic super-entity.

In his case, though, it’s not his dad; it’s his mom: Ayesha.

Along with his adoptive sister Aleta, he winds up gaining the powers of the Starhawk (screenrant.com) when he discovers the ruins of an ancient Arcturian city and awakens the Hawk God. In the process, Stakar and Aleta become fused together so that they have to take turns occupying the same physical space — but also somehow manage to get married and have three children together.

Stakar’s powers include super-human strength, super longevity and being able to travel faster than the speed of light. Oh, and he can see the future. And he’s been reincarnated a bunch of times as an infant, including once, forcibly, by Aleta after he refused to let her have a turn as Starhawk.

Stakar joins up with Yondu, Charlie-27, Martinex and a time-traveling human astronaut named Vance Astro to become a core member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.

Aleta Ogord (aka Starhawk)

Played by: Michelle Yeoh

First appearance: “Defenders” #27, 1975

Stakar’s adoptive sister and wife, Aleta, was born a Reaver (like Yondu). She eventually separates from Stakar and is reborn as a being of pure light.

Charlie-27

Played by: Ving Rhames

First appearance: “Marvel Super Heroes” #18, 1969

A 31st-century human genetically engineered for survival on Jupiter, making him many times stronger and more durable than a regular human. He’s also one of the founding members of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, according to comicvine.gamespot.com.

Martinex

Played by: Michael Rosenbaum

First appearance: “Marvel Super Heroes” #18, 1969

This guy has the same deal as Charlie-27, but he's genetically modified to withstand the extreme conditions on Pluto. As a result, his body is composed of silicon crystals that give him a bunch of nifty abilities, including super strength and thermokinesis, according to marvel.wikia.com.

Taserface

Played by: Chris Sullivan

First appearance: “Guardians of the Galaxy” #1, 1990

A member of a race of aliens whose advanced scientific knowledge is based almost entirely on human technology that had been jettisoned in space. To commemorate this discovery, they named themselves after the company that produced it: Stark, according to uproxx.com.

Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website TheMovieScrutineer.com.

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