Marvel’s mega-hit Guardians of the Galaxy returns in an animated version on Disney XD. The action-packed epic space adventure debuted with a one-hour special featuring back-to-back episodes on Saturday evening. In addition, Disney has posted a series of 2-part short films giving the back-story of each of the main characters on the Disney XD website.
Featuring the hugely popular characters introduced in the record-breaking Marvel Studios film of the same name, the series stars Will Friedle (Boy Meets World) as the brash adventurer Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Trevor Devall (Johnny Test) as fan-favorite Rocket Raccoon, Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels) as the enigmatic, expert fighter Gamora, David Sobolov (Transformers: Prime) as the rough-edged warrior Drax the Destroyer, Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show) as tree-like humanoid Groot, and James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as leader of the space pirates Yondu and the telepathic dog, Cosmo.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend a recording session featuring the cast and got to interview each of them (look for those interviews later this week). Based on the script pages I got to read, it looks as if the series will be a little closer to the comic book version than the film; certain comic characters who have not yet appeared in any Marvel films (and that I can’t yet mention by name) are featured, and Peter Quill’s story involves J’Son of Spartax, a character that director James Gunn has already said will not be Peter’s father in the live-action version.
The cartoon voices for the characters were established some time ago; the Guardians previously appeared as guest-stars in episodes of Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes before the film began production; all of the voice actors have high regard for their live-action counterparts, but they are deliberately avoiding doing impersonations of them.
As in the comic, the Guardians are based at Knowhere, the colony that has sprung up inside the severed head of a long-dead Celestial. In the premiere’s two-part episode, the Celestial turns out to still have a few surprises. In part one, “The Road to Knowhere,” the Guardians acquire a dangerous artifact that has Thanos’ new lieutenant, Korath (whom Drax seemingly killed in the film), coming after them. Then, in part two, “Knowhere to Run,” the Guardians struggle to subdue the suddenly sprung-to-life Celestial head while at the same time storming Korath’s ship to rescue the captured Quill and Gamora and retrieve the mysterious CryptoCube.
Taken as a stand-alone alternate version of the characters, the animated Guardians of the Galaxy looks like an entertaining addition to the XD lineup.