The trailers make quite a lot of play of this shift, detailing the eponymous guardians as “outlaws, thugs, assassins and a maniac”. And the final product refused to give us a set of lovable rogues with all of the rough edges smoothed off in the interests of making the whole venture more palatable.
Here are six of the best science fiction anti-heroes that Marvel placed Quill alongside.
1. Mal Reynolds – Serenity
The back story is fairly well-known. Joss Whedon crafted a brilliant but poorly understood and underwhelmingly received sci-fi western called Firefly, which was shamefully canned after 11 excellent and engaging episodes. A couple of years later he was given the budget to give it the big screen treatment, which he duly did, filling in some of the history whilst at the same time picking up where Firefly left off.
What resulted was not especially commercially successful, but Serenity is brilliant nonetheless, the ragged crew of a ragged ship trying to outrun a government agent who is hot on the heels of a teenage girl with a valuable secret stowed in her subconscious. Wonderful script, scintillating action, brave story choices and in Mal Reynolds, a ship’s captain for the ages – witty, eloquent, conflicted, industrious and alternately crafty and reckless.
The Hero Bit – Getting the message out to the ‘Verse regarding the Alliance’s dirty secret, even when there’s no profit in it for him
The Anti Bit – He definitely shot first. The other guy wasn’t even armed.