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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Arrow, in this case — when faced with twenty-odd enemies, Yondu controls it by whistling and starts slaughtering them. The weapon passes through each body, and an armored vehicle, without slowing whatsoever.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
    • The film opens with a genuinely moving sequence before descending into the madness that is the final product.
    • Later on, the movie has a couple of quiet moments between Quill and Gamora.
    • The Guardians board the Dark Aster during the middle of an intense aerial battle and enter a dark section. The action pauses for a moment as we're treated to a scene where Groot releases bioluminescent seed pods to light the way. The soundtrack becomes much more melodious as the other Guardians look on in wonder.
  • Act of True Love: After the battle on Knowhere, when Gamora's pod is blown apart by Nebula and she floats motionless in space, Quill decides to save her, even if it costs his life.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: After a whole movie of chasing Peter determined to get the orb he stole, Yondu can't help but grin when he receives what he thought was the orb holding the Stone, but turns out to just have a Troll doll inside. The movie establishes that Yondu utterly loves quirky little figurines.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Nova officer Garthaan Saal is a heroic, if arrogant, member of the corps in the movie. In the comics, he went crazy and became a supervillain.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Though he eventually learns the error of his ways, Star-Lord starts off as a self-serving outlaw and a bit of an asshole. This is in contrast to his comic counterpart, who was a seasoned cosmic superhero long before joining the Guardians.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Both of Gamora's costumes are significantly less Stripperiffic than what she usually wears in the comics.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • While Ronan the Accuser has never been the nicest guy in the main Marvel comics 'verse, in his role as Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire, he was mostly a Knight Templar. And after "Annihilation", he's on friendly terms with Star-Lord. Here, he's a renegade who's collecting the Infinity Stones for Thanos and is fanatically eager to commit genocide on the Xandarians. His actor compares him to Osama bin Laden.
    • Yondu is more of an Anti-Villain since he does end up helping the team against Ronan and saved Quill's life as a boy, but he is still a thief and quick to kill anyone who double-crosses him. On the original team, he was not only a heroic Noble Savage but transitioned into a Warrior Monk, believing himself to be the last of his kind and determined to keep his people's traditions alive.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Downplayed. The Nova Corps are depicted as an organization of Flying Brick Space Police in the comics, while in the film they are a generic Red Shirt Army... when facing the power of an Infinity Stone. Otherwise, they easily catch our heroes-to-be at the start, destroy their fair share of enemy fighters during the final battle even as civilians are evacuated, and together form-and-successfully-maintain an energy barrier that stops the Dark Aster in its tracks, despite it being a mile-wide flying fortress.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie contains elements from the classic comic series and the more recent series:
    • The team roster is taken from the current series, but Peter Quill is raised by Yondu, who was a member of the original team from the '60s.
    • Ronan works under Thanos, much like the Ultimate Marvel version of the character.
    • Movie Drax is a blend of the original, the '90s era, and the modern versions of the comic-book Drax.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • In the comics, Drax was originally a human named Arthur Douglas who was transformed into Drax The Destroyer after being fatally wounded by Thanos. In the movie, he's an alien and Drax is his real name.
    • The same line also reveals that his daughter (Moondragon) isn't named Heather.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In the comics, the death of Drax's family was an atrocity committed by Thanos: the film makes Ronan directly responsible and relegates Thanos to The Chessmaster behind the crime. By the end of the film, Drax has decided that he won't be really satisfied until the Greater-Scope Villain is dead too.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Drax is an alien in the movie, but he was a human named Arthur Douglas in the comics.
  • Adrenaline Time: Used during the Prison Riot, e.g. when Drax throws Rocket a gun and later when the team fights Korath and his minions onboard the Dark Aster.
  • Affably Evil: Yondu pursues Quill and the Orb for three-quarters of the film, before being convinced to ally against Ronan, but he is more of a comedic menace than a real threat.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier:
    • The Ravagers have the Eclector, which has enough room for the storage and maintenance of about two dozen M-ships.
    • Ronan's Dark Aster is the launching platform for hundreds of Necrocraft fighters.
  • The Alcatraz: The Guardians spend some time imprisoned in The Kyln space prison and have to escape. Also counts as a Hellhole Prison, seeing as the correction officers who run the place couldn't care less if an inmate is injured or even killed by another.
    Rocket: They call the Kyln the stomach of the prison system. No matter how good you are going in, you come out pretty frickin' bad.
  • Alien Abduction: The movie begins with Peter Quill being abducted from Earth via Tractor Beam. He was actually supposed to be delivered to his father, but Yondu decided to rear him instead.
  • Alien Blood: The Xandarians look human but have blue blood.
  • Alien Gender Confusion: Rocket tells Groot to learn his genders when he tries to kidnap Gamora instead of Peter.
  • Alien Sky: Morag, the abandoned planet Quill is exploring near the beginning, is shown with two sister-planets or large moons. Xandar, the planet defended in the climax, has two suns (and a more distant companion star) although they're only visible in a couple of shots.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Quill's translator implant in his neck allows him and the audience by proxy to hear all the aliens around him as speaking English. This is a case of Freeze-Frame Bonus, as it's only shown briefly on screen during his arrest.
  • Almost Kiss: Gamora and Quill. It's a textbook case in the actual movie. Although instead of pulling away, or slapping him, she pulls a knife on him.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Groot's language (which consists entirely of the phrase "I am Groot" which can have hundreds or possibly thousands of different meanings depending on tone) isn't as absurd as it seems at first blush. To wit, there are real languages where the same word can have dozens of different meanings depending on the tone. Also, most animal's "languages" consist of one basic sound (such as a cat's meow) which can have numerous meanings depending on the tone and other variables.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: In addition to the typical Caucasian pinkish-brown, Xandarians also come in various warm colors, ranging from yellow to pink. This may be a Shout-Out to the comics where, after the Xandarian empire was nearly wiped out and then re-established, they began taking in other refugees from planetary disasters, making the new empire and the Nova Corps a Melting Pot of various alien races.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Peter's Walkman does a lot of work characterizing him:
    • The fact that he even has a Walkman in a Space Opera setting helps mark him as a child of the Eighties. The selection of music he has shows how he still prizes the memories of his late mother, as they're her favorite songs when she grew up, most of the songs being older than Quill himself.
    • His first scene where he dances away to "Come and Get Your Love" in an abandoned ruin while flippantly fighting off aggressive vermin demonstrates that he (and the movie as a whole) is kind of irreverent, to say the least. (The trailer used "Hooked on a Feeling" to the same effect.)
  • And Starring: The film's promotional materials had "With Vin Diesel as Groot and Bradley Cooper as Rocket". During the film's actual opening billboard, they added "With John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio del Toro as The Collector".
  • And the Adventure Continues: In the conclusion, the newly christened Guardians set off into space to do not "something good" or "something bad", but "a bit of both", while I Want You Back by the Jackson 5 plays in the background. The screen then cuts to "The Guardians of the Galaxy will return".
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: After Ronan is killed, everyone celebrates the Guardians' victory. Ronan was so despicable no one mourns his death.
  • Angrish: Rocket is eager to ditch the Infinity Stone and haul tail to the other side of the universe, and is none too happy when Groot decides to help Drax, forcing Rocket to either risk his life playing hero or abandon his one friend.
  • Annoying Laugh: Rocket lets out a forced laugh after he hears Star-Lord's "plan". He is insulted for faking a laugh so badly.
    Rocket: That is the most real, authentic, hysterical laugh of my entire life, because that is not a plan!
  • Answer Cut:
    • Early on, Yondu comments "What we do need to worry about is who else out there wants that Orb!" — cut to an Establishing Shot of the Dark Aster, introducing the Big Bad Ronan.
    • Also involving Yondu, as he's interrogating the Broker for who wants the Orb, he asks "Now, who again is this buyer of yours?" Cut to the Collector scolding his assistant for slacking off when he has a certain quintet coming over to visit.
    • At Knowhere, while waiting for the Collector, Drax says, "This is no respectable establishment! What do you expect us to do while we wait?" Cut to Drax, Rocket, and Groot drinking and placing bets on small lizard creatures that are being chased and eaten by a larger alien.
  • Anti-Hero: The so-called "Guardians" are (in Star-Lord's own words) "a thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac". As Karen Gillan says, they're "good guys within the bad guys".
  • Anti-Hero Team: The Guardians are all convicted criminals, guilty of a whole plethora of illegal activities, including murder, theft, assault, and Illegal Manipulation of a Gramosian Duchess. The start of the film even involves the lot of them being arrested.
  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • The name "Guardians of the Galaxy" comes from an insult by the villain, Ronan, after he's kicked the crap out of the heroes. Peter decides to keep it.
      Peter: You said it yourself, bitch. We're the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • It's revealed at the end, as Peter reads his mother's last letter to him, that "Star-Lord" was her nickname for him; so Quill's "outlaw name" could fall under this trope as well.
  • Arc Symbol: The Take My Hand gesture. First it's about Peter refusing to hold his mom's hand while she died and then eagerly accepting Gamora's at the end, because he sees it as his mom doing the same.
  • Arc Welding: Despite being a Breather Episode that doesn't even mention any of the other MCU Films, this movie does an amazing amount of World Building by introducing Celestials and giving the MacGuffins from previous movies more backstory. We are given more info on Thanos, who had only been shown in the stinger for The Avengers, and was implied to be the backer behind Loki. The Yggdrasil tree's nebula that connects the Nine Realms can also be seen in many shots of space. All together, this makes the movie one of the more important ones for the overall MCU story line. Lady Sif and Volstagg also delivered the Aether to the Collector at the end on Thor: The Dark World, showing that Asgardians travel to this part of the universe. This continues after the fact, with Thor showing some general knowledge of the events of the film in Avengers: Age of Ultron though everyone else on Earth remains largely clueless.
  • Arc Words: "Take/Hold my hand". It's Peter Quill's character arc in a nutshell.
  • Armor Is Useless: Yondu's extremely sharp arrow tears through an armored tank like tissue paper.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Yondu and his motley horde of Ravagers, an entire fleet of spaceships with only one rule: steal from everybody. In the climax of the film, Peter manages to persuade Yondu to lead them into battle against Ronan.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • The Nova Corps arrest Rocket and Groot, throw them into an awful prison, apparently without trial, and leave them at the mercy of the other prisoners and guards who don't care if they live or die... but worse than that, they scrunch up Rocket's pants into a little ball, whereas they fold Quill's. That's just rude.
    • Quill and Rocket's rap sheets when they are being booked also demonstrate this.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: At the end of the film, Dey informs the Guardians that their criminal records have been erased as a reward for their heroism in the Battle of Xandar. Of course, this doesn't preclude their getting in trouble in the future, and Dey makes sure they're well aware of that.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Infinity Stone; emphasis on "doom" here because it can depopulate a planet on contact with the ground.
  • Artistic Licence Biology: As seen in Alien Blood, Xandarian blood is blue — and yet they're indistinguishable from humans, when by all rights they should look like the Kree.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: The Kree ambassador very undiplomatically refuses to denounce Ronan's terrorist actions. Nova Prime even calls him a prick as soon as the transmission is ended.
  • As You Know:
    • Drax, the only member of the crew not included in the line-up where the Nova Corps reads off their rap sheets, introduces himself this way, asking the prisoners about to kill Gamora if they know his name and why they call him "the Destroyer."
    • At the end, Yondu's right hand adds a detail to his line to his boss that would be redundant in-universe, but works as an info-dump for the audience: "It's probably good we didn't deliver him to his dad like we was hired to do."

  • Badass Adorable:
    • Rocket looks like a cute little Funny Animal, but he's a hard-core bounty hunter with a big mean streak.
    • Groot is the opposite: he looks imposing (and when angered is exceptionally formidable), but regularly shows his gentle side (often to Rocket's frustration).
  • Badass Boast: Rocket gets most of them.
    • When Quill calls Rocket a raccoon, and says "that's what you are."
      Rocket: Ain't no thing like me, 'cept me.
    • Rocket gives another one to all of the prisoners in the Kyln after his buddy Groot reduces a massive, bullying convict to a sniveling heap.
      Rocket: Let's make something clear. This one here's our booty! You want to get to him!? You go through us! Or... more accurately... we go through you.
    • Here's another gem when Rocket tries to capture Quill's bounty.
      Rocket: I live for the simple things, like how much this is gonna hurt.
    • Groot's Catch Phrase becomes this during the prison break:
      Groot: I... AM... GROOT!!!
    • Ronan gets a good one as he places the Infinity Stone in the Universal Weapon:
      Ronan: I will unfurl one thousand years of Kree justice on Xandar, and burn it to its core! And then, Thanos... I am coming for you.
  • Badass Baritone: Groot has a deep voice and he's the nicest person in the movie.
  • Badass Crew: The Guardians include an assassin, a brawler, two bounty hunters, and a Ravager. Or, as Quill put it in the trailer:
    Peter Quill: So here we are. A thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac.
  • Badass Family: Of the adoptive variety. Yondu is the leader of the Ravagers and has no problem taking down two dozen mooks with a single remote-controlled arrow; Peter has obviously been trained by his adoptive father to use cunning, wits, and special gadgets in order to survive.
  • Badass Longcoat: Peter wears a classic example during the opening sequence, but swaps it later in favor of a leather jacket. Yondu and many of the Ravagers wear them as well. In fact, this may be the best collection of Badass Long Coats since Serenity.
  • Badass Normal: Of the entire team, Star-Lord looks to be the only one without any special powers or cybernetic enhancements, and instead relies on his cunning, smarts, and array of gadgets to survive. Although the scan when he's arrested does state he has one cybernetic enhancement, in the form of a translation device. This is probably standard in space.
  • Bad to the Bone: They pull off this one with "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Rocket attempts to have Groot put Star-Lord in a bag. Groot mistakenly goes after Gamora. By the time Groot gets it right, the lot of them have been captured by the Nova Corps.
  • The Bait: Quill convinces Drax and the other inmates to spare Gamora, saying that if she's alive, Ronan — the guy Drax really wants — will eventually come for her. (That's why Drax comes with them too; he decides to stay by Gamora until he finds Ronan.)
  • Bald of Awesome: Drax the Destroyer. No hair upon his head, and none-the-less badass for it.
  • Bald of Evil: Nebula has no hair, and is pretty darn evil.
  • Bald Women:
    • Peter's mother (probably due to chemotherapy, not the best reason to have the trope).
    • Nebula is hairless. This one may be for the creepy factor.
  • The Battlestar:
    • The Dark Aster, Ronan The Accuser's thee-mile wide ship that houses hundreds of necrocraft.
    • Yondu's ship, The Elector would count as well.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Seen in a bar on Knowhere. It involves betting on multiple small alien lizards that get chased and eaten by a larger alien, the last small lizard standing wins.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Downplayed; Gamora gets a few scrapes and scratches, but on the other hand, she isn't marred nearly as much as logic says she should be in all this. She has a healing factor in the comics and this regenerative ability is mentioned in her rapsheet so that might explain a bit.
    • Nebula's is shown onscreen; presumably Thanos picks his agents ("daughters") for durability.
  • Begin with a Finisher: When the Guardians confront Ronan on his flagship, they immediately hit him with a missile from a BFG said to be capable of destroying moons. He emerges from the Smoke Shield completely unscathed, forcing them to use more creative measures.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The relationship between Star-Lord and Gamora starts out with them trying to kill each other. Then they start grooving to '80s music and then she puts a knife to his neck for attempting to seduce her.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Peter Quill regards his old Walkman as sacred. Do not touch it. In the opening, we find out that Walkman contained a mixtape his late mother made for him.
    • Rocket has a short fuse in many ways. However, if you have a particular desire to be shot in the head, you could refer to him as "vermin" or "rodent" or imply that he's a non-sentient animal or lesser being
    • Drax has a fairly straightforward berserk button: Ronan, the villain.
  • Best Served Cold: Drax's only remaining purpose in life to avenge the murders of his family. Even at the end, after Ronan is dead, he realizes that Ronan was a pawn of the one truly responsible, and now seeks revenge against Thanos.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: The film is incredibly self-aware and frequently calls attention to the various tropes that are now standard to comic book films.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The big, dopey, barely-verbal nice one. He is Groot.
  • BFG:
    • They're pretty normal-sized to humans, but any gun that Rocket carries is automatically going to be huge for him. You have no idea how happy that makes him. His own self-designed gun even reaches Liefeldian proportions in design.
    • The Hadron Enforcer has to be carried in two hands and looks like a black powder cannon.
    • During the prison escape, our anti-heroes make it to the watchtower which is armored against the flying gunbots, only for a squad to turn up with bazooka-like weapons.
  • Big Bad: Ronan. While he's technically in service to Thanos, the latter barely shows up, and Ronan ultimately decides to betray him once he gets the Infinity Stone.
  • The Big Board: Nova Corps uses a huge holographic board for strategics.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Guardians and the Ravagers step up to protect Xandar before the Nova Corps can even gear up to face the threat. Rocket gets his own special moment protecting a mother and daughter who are later revealed to be Rhomann Dey's wife and child.
  • Big Good: Nova Prime Rael, the leader of the Nova Corps.
  • The Big Guy: You've got two in the team. Drax would be the hulking brute on most teams, but Groot is bigger and can grow in size like his comic counterpart.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Groot performs a Heroic Sacrifice to shield the other members from the Dark Aster's crash-landing.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Groot and Rocket, respectively. Groot is a giant (around ten feet tall or so) while Rocket stands about four feet tall.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Peter gets an especially harrowing one after his mother's death.
    • Gamora gets a few: when Nebula seems to fall to her death and when Quill is about to grab the Infinity Stone.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Rocket and Groot understand each other well enough. Rocket acts as a sort of Translator Buddy: he'll mimic what Groot just said, and then retort.
    Groot: I am Groot.
    Rocket: So what? "It's better than eleven percent"?! What's that got to do with anything?!
  • Binary Suns: Actually a trinary. The Xandarian system has two main-sequence stars and a distant red dwarf star.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Groot is a sentient plant who talks only in Pokémon Speak and can spontaneously grow his limbs, extend spines or vines from his body, or release glowing spores. Still-living fragments of Groot can even grow into a new Groot with fertile soil and a little time.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: There's no doubt the baddies are on the side of evil since Thanos is their big boss. However, the "good guys" have done morally questionable things and some of the Nova Corps police are jerks.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: A variation; Drax and Rocket use the BFG to blast the Infinity Stone out of Ronan's Universal Weapon, since shooting Ronan directly didn't work.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Apparently, the Chinese subtitles were particularly poor. Among other things, the title was translated as "Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team", and it is speculated this hurt its sales.
  • Blood Bath: Ronan is shown in the beginning to be emerging from a pool of dark blue liquid, which is later refilled by the blood spilling out of the Nova Corps member he kills.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Several characters fall prey to this (Peter is the only Terran around, after all), but Drax is especially bad. They tend to go over his head.
  • Body Horror:
  • Boldly Coming: If Quill is to be believed, he hasn't let the fact that he's the only Earth-human around prevent him having a full and satisfying sex life. One of his flings is sleeping in his ship when he finds the Infinity Stone, and his reputation even precedes him when he attempts to move in on Green-Skinned Space Babe Gamora.
    Gamora: I know who you are, Peter Quill! And I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your… your PELVIC SORCERY!
  • Book-Ends: Peter taking the hand of the person in the moment of trust. The former event is a Tear Jerker, but the latter event is for the sake of survival.
  • Bounty Hunter: Rocket and Groot are introduced as such as they scan the pedestrians on Xandar for offenders.
  • Breather Episode: Directly following Captain America: The Winter Soldier's Wham Episode and preceding the Darker and Edgier Avengers: Age of Ultron, this one is a straightforward Space Opera and one of the most humorous and silly films in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When they meet at the start of the movie, Peter introduces himself as the notorious outlaw "Star-Lord", but Korath has never heard of him. Later they meet up in the final battle and Korath addresses him by his outlaw name. Peter seems thrilled to have his identity validated in this way.
      Korath: Star-Lord.
      Quill: Finally!
    • While visiting the Broker on Xandar, Yondu examines some trinkets and imagines lining them up on his dashboard (and indeed, later we see the figures lined on the dashboard of his ship, and him recovering them when his ship crashes). After the Ravagers help save Xandar, his prize is not the valuable (but insanely dangerous) Infinity Stone: the containment orb holds a Troll doll. He seems to genuinely enjoy it.
    • Rocket claims there's one more thing needed to complete the plan to take down Ronan... that guy's eye!
    • One for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole when Peter talks about having "12% of a plan," referencing Tony Stark and Pepper Potts' "12% of a moment" in The Avengers.
  • The Bridge: The Dark Aster has an incredibly dark and creepy "evil temple" version, with a thronelike command chair, and a row of Mooks controlling the ship using glowing energy balls.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: On seeing exposition on what the Infinity Stones can do (e.g. scorching entire planets) Quill says he can feel a little pee coming on.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center:
    • Rocket is a fluffy little ball of irritability, hatefulness and bloodlust. The apparent death of Groot reduces him to sobbing like a small child.
      Rocket: I called him an idiot...
    • Drax really misses his family and it becomes clear that his belligerence is the only thing keeping him up.
  • Brutal Honesty: Rocket, when he starts mocking Drax for revealing their location to Ronan.
    Rocket: Oh, "boo-hoo-hoo, my wife and child are dead."
    Groot: [gasps]
    Rocket: Oh I don't care if it's mean! Everybody's got dead people! That's no excuse to get everybody else dead along the way!
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Ronan to Drax. Later subverted, as Ronan does recall every gruesome detail. He just needed his memory jogged.
    Ronan: I don't recall killing your family. I doubt I will remember killing you, either.
  • Butt-Monkey: Peter Quill gets his ass kicked quite a bit here.

  • Cain and Abel: Nebula is the Cain to Gamora's Abel but it's played with; Gamora shows genuine affection for Nebula and spends a bit of their every confrontation trying to get Nebula to side with her. Nebula claims that of their many "siblings" she hates Gamora the least.
  • Call-Back: The appearance of the Tesseract and the Aether as Infinity Stones.
  • Call-Forward: On Peter's ship, Rocket shows off a bomb "for if things get really hardcore. Or if you wanna blow up moons." Gamora's response is, "Nobody's blowing up any moons." Guess what happens in the next movie?
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: Drax has a problem with metaphors.
    Drax: Do not ever call me a thesaurus!
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Quill, once he's finally had it with Yondu bringing up how he kept the Ravagers from devouring him as a child for years on end (see I'm a Humanitarian for the quote).
  • The Cameo: Lots.
    • Howard the Duck shows up in in The Stinger, voiced by Seth Green.
    • Lloyd Kaufman is an inmate in a blink-and-you'll miss it cameo (he's the conspicuously old guy leaning on the railing).
    • Stan Lee pops up as a Xandarian apparently trying to pick up a lady.
    • Nathan Fillion is the voice of the big alien inmate that Groot defeats. His presence also counts as a bit of an in-joke given the spiritual similarities between this movie and Fillion's Firefly.
    • Rob Zombie "appears" as the voice of the Ravager Navigator.
  • Camp Straight: The Collector shows traits of a feminine side.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor:
    • Rocket's tongue is loosened considerably when he's had a few; he loses his Deadpan Snarker attitude and turns downright mean when insulted at such times. It also loosens his unshakable façade as he reveals both his extensive mental scars (being repeatedly vivisected and reconstructed has to have been immensely traumatic) and his belief that most people see him as some grotesque, unnatural freak. Justified: with his much smaller body mass, he'll be affected harder and faster by alcohol than humanoids.
    • Drax outdoes Rocket in drunk stupidity: he drunk-calls Ronan to tell him where they are, and gets his ass kicked.
  • The Captain: Peter "Star-Lord" Quill becomes this. At the film's start, he is the owner and pilot of the Cool Starship Milano, but he has no crew per se. By the end, the Guardians have coalesced into an out-and-out Badass Crew, tacitly approved Quill as their leader, and adopted the Milano as their base of operations.
  • Casting Gag:
  • The Cavalry: During the climactic battle, the Nova Corps arrives to assist the Guardians and the Ravagers to stop Ronan. Granted, it shouldn't have been a surprise, since they were fighting to protect the Nova Corps' homeworld.
  • Character Development: A lot, fitting the mold for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Hadron Enforcer is used twice against Ronan.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • Peter's reference to Kevin Bacon in Footloose is repeated by Gamora during the film's climax.
      Gamora: We're just like Kevin Bacon!
    • Peter's "finger to the throat" gag to Drax.
      Drax: Finger to the throat means death! [kills Korath]
      Drax: [to Quill] Metaphor!
      Quill: Yeah, sorta.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Quill's mix tape comes in handy when he has to distract Ronan.
    • The Collector mentions how a group of aliens once tried to share the power of the Infinity Stone. Guess what happens near the very end of the film? The Collector also mentions that that group of aliens eventually succumbed to the power anyway. Good thing the Guardians only did it for a few seconds before sealing the Infinity Gem.
    • Several times during the film, Yondu threatens someone with a nasty-looking weapon, a single arrow that he controls by whistling. He doesn't actually use it and reveal (to the viewers) exactly how it works until the climax, when he is able to use it to impale about ''two-dozen'' of Ronan's Mooks and destroy one of their fighter ships in one throw, and then catch it again.
    • The Treasure Troll figure shows up during Quill's escape sequence in the beginning, floating up by the camera when the ship was falling.
  • Chekhov's News: The news report about the riots in the Kree Empire that Bereet listens to aboard the Milano.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Groot's regenerative abilities come in handy after his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Thanos has a severe inverted case of this going on in this film: Ronan makes a deal with Thanos, and Thanos sends Nebula and Gamora to keep an eye on him and make sure he stays true to it. That's fine, except that Gamora hates all of them and wants to get away from all of them, while Ronan decides to double-cross Thanos and Nebula decides to go along with him on it on the condition that Ronan use the Infinity Gem to kill Thanos.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Quill uses a pair of jet boots that allow him to fly, as well as a helmet that provides oxygen and life support.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Groot, being a sentient tree, is expected to be a little less-than-rational.
    • Drax, on the other hand, is shaping up to be the antithesis of the brooding, revenge-driven psychopath, and instead is a ditzy revenge-driven psychopath.
  • Cold Opening: The first scene, in which Peter gets abducted by aliens immediately after seeing his mother die, happens even before the Marvel Studios Vanity Plate.
  • Collapsible Helmet: Quill's breathing mask/helmet/AR goggles. As a rogue scavenger, having a quickly-deployable multi-purpose hazmat mask presumably comes in handy rather a lot — it certainly does more than once in the film.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Happens frequently with Drax, due to his ignorance of the concept of metaphors.
    • Happens with Rhomann Dey: when delivering Peter's warning of Ronan's invasion, concluding with Peter's admission of being an "A-hole" but also stating that he is not "100% a dick", Nova Prime asks "do you believe him?". Rhomann replies that he does not believe that anyone is 100% a dick.
    • Another one occurs near the end of the movie, when Rocket and Drax ask Rhomann about how far they can push their now-expunged criminal records. "What if someone does something irksome, and I decide to remove his spine?" And Rocket asks, rather insistently, whether it really counts as theft if he wants the object more than its rightful owner does.
    • When planning a prison break, Rocket suggests that Gamora use the fact that a number of the male prisoners find her attractive to broker a "trade" of some sort for an item he needs. Her reply of "You must be joking." is answered with "No, I really heard they find you attractive."
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Regularly Played for Laughs.
    • The only one who uses the superhero name Peter Quill made for himself, "Star-Lord", is him — everyone else is distinctly unimpressed. Quill is delighted when Korath refers to him by the name towards the end.
      Rhomann: Peter Jason Quill. Also known as "Star-Lord."
      Nova Corps Officer: Who calls him that?
      Rhomann: Himself, mostly.
    • The movie does it even better, when Quill tries to explain the distinction between a code name and an outlaw name.
      Rhomann: Hey! If it isn't "Star-Prince".
      Quill: Star-Lord.
      Rhomann: Sorry; "Lord". [to his partner] I picked this guy up a while back for petty theft. He's got a code name!
      Quill: Come on, man, it's an outlaw name.
      Rhomann: Relax, pal. [sarcastically] It's cool to have a code name. It's not that weird.
    • His rap sheet has his alias as "Space Lord".
    • The team doesn't get the name Guardians of the Galaxy until the end, when Ronan mockingly dubs them such. They spend most of the film without a name.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: During the Prison Riot, a drone fires More Dakka style at Rocket but Groot is able to protect his mate with his wooden branches.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Collector's HQ is full of this: In the background, we see a Dark Elf in one of the cages, and a Chitauri in another.
    • When discussing the Infinity Stones, we briefly see holograms of the Tesseract from The Avengers and the Aether from Thor: The Dark World.
    • When six-year-old Star-Lord gets beamed up by Ravagers, the tractor beam uses the same "Aurora Borealis" color scheme as the Bifrost from the Thor movies.
    • We learn that touching the Orb is a bad idea. Touching the Infinity Stones were also a bad idea in Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor: The Dark World.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: As opposed to the conflicted but ultimately good guys of the prior Marvel movies, these guys start from the other end of the spectrum and work their way to becoming good guys.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • When his mother died, Peter Quill stumbled outside the hospital and was abducted by aliens within a minute. Subverted later, when an off-hand line by Yondu makes it clear that they had been hired to bring Quill to his father. They just thought it would be more fun to adopt him.
    • Peter and Thanos's forces show up to to take the orb at exactly the same time.
    • Groot and Rocket, and Gamora all are after Peter within minutes of each other.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Quill. He still has his father but Yondu prevented them from getting together. Yet.
  • Conveniently Empty Building: Justified, since Nova Prime orders the evacuation of Xandar's capital city as the battle commences. By the time the Dark Aster crashes into it the evacuation is mostly complete (and Rocket, who'd been covering the evacuation from his fighter, informed the rest of the team of this in an earlier scene).
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Twice.
    • When Gamora and Quill fight over the orb on Xandar, she overwhelms him, delivers a Pre-Mortem One-Liner and raises her knife to finish him off. In this moment Rocket comes flying in and pushes her away.
    • Again during the Prison Riot. A drone points its guns at Quill but before it can send some bullets his way, Drax jumps in and tears the drone apart.
  • Cool Helmet: Star-Lord, as always, can be seen sporting his distinctive helmet that collapses behind his ear and contains all sorts of scanning technology and a respirator.
  • Cool Starship:
    • The Milano. What makes it different from most starships is mostly the interior which contains various pop culture references to The '80s, including a tape deck. (The name is also a stealth '80s reference.)
    • Then there's the villain's ship, the three-kilometer long Dark Aster.
  • Corpsing:
    • In-universe example; Rocket is trying to convince the Guardians that they need a Ravager's bionic eye as part of the plan to stop Ronan from using the Infinity Stone to destroy Xandar, but they won't have any of it. Even while he's trying to convince the team he needs it for the setup, his voice cracks for a second and he can barely refrain from laughter.
    • While the Broker is trying to explain to Yondu why he can't discuss the details of the Orb or its buyer, Yondu keeps cutting him off by babbling nonsense. Kraglin (Yondu's right-hand man) struggles to keep a straight face at Yondu's antics until he lets out a blatant snigger.
  • Corrupt Cop: While most of the Nova Corps are decent people just doing their job, Rocket makes it clear that the Kyln is where the most corrupt of them go; he claims they couldn't care less what happens to the inmates, so long as nothing happens that they'll get in trouble for. (Like a prison break.) When Gamora is caught by a group of vengeful inmates, one of the guards tells the group to take her down to the showers because it'll take hours to get the blood out otherwise.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Collector. Gamora points out that the profitable mining operations that the Tivan Group is conducting to extract the organic materials from Knowhere are highly dangerous and highly illegal.
  • Covered in Scars:
    • Close-ups on Gamora show that her body has a lot of scar tissue.
    • Rocket's back is a mess of surgical scars.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: After Ronan is killed and the Ravagers depart, Rocket holds one of Groot's twigs, completely devastated and at a loss for how to process the death of his best friend.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison:
    • Drax misunderstanding Quill's body language is justified in that not everyone in the galaxy would be familiar with or aware of Earth customs. The "finger on the throat" gesture seems fairly universal (Rocket, Gamora, and a random thug all understand it), but other things are specific to Earth.
      Drax: Why would I put my finger on his throat?
    • Gamora falls victim to it too.
      Gamora: Who put the sticks in their butts? That is cruel.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Quill distracts Ronan while Rocket prepares a breaking into song and dance. Ronan is so bewildered by this that it actually works.
  • Credits Gag: "No raccoons or tree creatures were harmed during the making of this film."
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Quill is a bit of a goofball and doesn't always think things through, but he is extremely competent (and becomes even moreso over the course of the movie), a great pilot with extensive knowledge of ships, and very good at thinking on his feet — which helps, given that he's constantly getting himself into trouble. It's a running gag for Quill to pretend to be weaker and more compliant than he actually was, only to strike when his enemy's guard is down. This comes back in the climax as well.
  • Cry Cute: After two hours of being a violent, mean, and foul-mouthed Jerkass, Rocket finally becomes the adorable little raccoon he's meant to be as he tenderly holds the bundle of sticks that remains of Groot, and weeps like a vulnerable child.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Once Drax joins Groot in battling the Kyln guards — and then arms Rocket — things go in a Mook Horror Show direction.
    • A pretty one-sides battle towards the end of the Prison Riot. Quill gets into his suit and uses his powerful tazer gun against a couple of wardens who are equipped only with bats.
    • Drax's fight with an unarmed Ronan on Knowhere is completely one-sided. Drax is utterly beaten while Ronan doesn't break a sweat.
    • After his ship crashes, Yondu must face a regiment of soldiers backed up by an armored ship. He slaughters them all with contemptuous ease.
  • Cyborg:
    • Rocket Raccoon is an illegal experiment in cybernetics, and his cyborg parts are visible when he's not wearing clothes.
    • Nebula has a cybernetic eye and arm.
    • Korath has visible machinery sticking out of his head.
    • Yondu whistles to his Trick Arrow for our benefit — he's actually controlling it with the implant on top of his skull, which glows brightly when the arrow is active.


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