That was with the original Guardians of the Galaxy (1969) lineup, the 31st Century alternate earth version featuring Vance ‘Major Victory’ Astro (20th century Earth), Martinex (Pluto), Charlie-27 (Jupiter), and Yondu (Centauri-IV, and appearing in the movie played by Michael Rooker). I was going to say they debuted in Fantastic Four, going off the top of my head, but a quick check informs me that I’m wrong.
The current (2008) version only shares the name, though there have been significant crossovers, including adding Major Victory to the line-up for awhile. The original line-up was Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill, Adam Warlock (one of my favorite Marvel characters), Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Phyla ‘Quasar’ Vell (daughter of the original Captain Marvel, Kree warrior Mahr-Vell), Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. They exist in the same time and same dimension and the main Marvel universe.
There are 4 Netflix productions that I am aware of, and they vary somewhat in terms of quality, from pretty good to fucking awesome.
Lillyhammer - I like it a lot, but my uninformed belief is that it has not gotten a great deal of critical acclaim or fan appreciation. I’m sure it has to be considered better than average quality TV, at least.
Orange is the New Black - has gotten quite a lot of critical acclaim and has a large fan base. Not something I had imagined I’d enjoy very much, but I think it’s excellent and well worth watching.
Arrested Development Season 4 - I’m not sure exactly how well this was received overall. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but some people did not dig the changes in format.
House of Cards - people utter this title reverently, often in sentences that include The Wire and Breaking Bad.
Based on this, I’d say it is a very good sign for the Marvel projects that Netflix has greenlighted them.
Note that those four characters (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist) are the Defenders in the subsequent miniseries. They’re re-using the Defenders name for a more street-level team.
Don’t want you anticipating the classic team. It seems possible that Dr. Strange may eventually end up tied-in to the Avengers franchise, as current main characters drop out of movie contracts. But I don’t think we’ll see a separate Hulk + Dr. Strange team, and Valkyrie is unlikely (although Sif as movie-Valkyrie is a possibility, I suppose).
In the first Thor movie, when Thor is breaking into the SHIELD research facility he beats up a ton of SHIELD mooks. Then he runs into a big black guy in a SHIELD uniform who punch Thor and knocks him down. Thor says, “You’re big. I’ve fought bigger.” and punches the guy full on and he survives it.
I think that was a cameo by Luke Cage. No normal man can go toe-to-toe with Thor for any length of time, much less deck him and handle a punch by him. That guy has to be a meta-human of some sort, even if unacknowledged.
At that point in Thor, Thor had been cast out of Asgard and made mortal. Still kind of a brute, maybe, but he got knocked out by being backed over by a car; hardly up to Asgardian standards of toughness.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a name for two only-kinda-related teams of space-faring heroes.
The original incarnation debuted in a one-off story disconnected to the main Marvel Universe way back in 1969. That story was set in the future and involved a group of space-faring heroes fighting evil aliens called the Badoon. This incarnation would be folded into the Marvel Universe proper in the mid-70’s when they guest-starred (via time-travel, naturally) in several comics, including the Defenders and Avengers. After that they were once again off the radar until 1990, when they managed to hold a comic title for 62 issues in the anything-goes excess of the 90’s. The characters from this incarnation are:
[li]Vance Astro: an earth-born mutant with psychokinetic powers, [/li][li]Yondu: a blue skinned alien with a red dorsal fin that had an empathic connection to nature and could control the direction of his arrows by whistling; [/li][li]Martinex: an earthling who underwent biogenetic transformation to survive the icy (non)planet Pluto with the ability to generate intense cold and heat[/li][li]Charlie-27: an earthling who underwent biogenetic transformation to survive the harsh gravity of Jupiter with the superhuman strength and mass.[/li][li]Starhawk: a composite entity of two alien step-brother/step-sister with the ability to fly through space and fire energy bolts[/li][li]Nikki: child of earthlings who underwent biogenetic transformation to survive the intense heat and light of the planet Mercury. She has a resistance to heat and light and is a proficient combatant.[/li][/ul]
The second incarnation spun out of Keith Giffen’s 2007 Annihilation Conquest: Star-Lord miniseries (featuring Star Lord, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon, among others) who were tasked with a suicide mission to plant a virus in the home world of a technological alien invasion force. This team survived and added Drax and Gamora, (among others) to their team to serve as a force to repel intergalactic threats in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008-2010 Guardians of the Galaxy series. This team discovered a time-displaced, amnesiac version of Vance Astro and adopted the name Guardians of the Galaxy from his half-remembered mutterings. After the Abnett and Lanning series ended, the team next appeared in their upcoming movie lineup in Brian Bendis’ Avengers Assemble arc and later in his Guardians of the Galaxy which is currently ongoing. Although there have been numerous other members of this incarnation, the current lineup (which mirrors the movie lineup) includes:
[li]Star Lord: earthling who grew up unaware his father is the leader of a vast galactic empire. Just a guy with a spaceship and an “element gun”[/li][li]Drax: earthling transformed into a living weapon for the sole purpose of killing Thanos[/li][li]Gamora: woman raised by Thanos to become a master assassin, but was eventually betrayed by Thanos[/li][li]Rocket Raccoon: tech-savvy interplanetary explorer from a weird planet called Halfworld.[/li][li]Groot: Basically an Ent from space, originally appearing as a monstrous bad guy that predated Marvel’s superhero era, was recently reintroduced as a benevolent creature that can now only express himself by saying “I am Groot.” [/li][/ul]
So why the hell is this oddball D-List property becoming a movie ahead of other perennial iconic Marvel characters that are stuck in development? The answer to that is Nicole Perlman. She was a part of Disney’s screenwriting program and pitched a take on Guardians that impressed everyone who read it. I suspect that the strength of that script gave Guardians the momentum it needed to get into production.
But one word of caution: although the movie is littered with a veritable “who’s that?” of Marvel’s cosmic universe, don’t bother looking for a comic book equivalent to this semi-comedic take on the characters. As I understand it, the movie team is a bunch of anti-hero outlaws. In the comics, they are your garden-variety “good guys.”
That there are going to be separate Power-Man/Iron Fist, Daredevil and Jessica Jones miniseries on Netflix, then there’s going to be a Defenders miniseries where they all team up to form the titular group.