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- Dance Off: Subverted and Played for Laughs. Peter Quill challenges Ronan to a dance-off at the film's climax. Ronan, being a hostile alien, has no idea what Quill is on about and regards the challenge with confusion. This doesn't stop Quill from continuing to dance until his people can attack.
- Dare to Be Badass:
- How Peter convinces his criminal cohorts to protect the MacGuffin from Nebula and Ronan.Peter: I look around this room, and you know what I see? Losers! [beat] I mean, like, folks who have lost stuff. And we have, man, we have; all of us. Our homes, our families, normal lives. And usually, life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today, it's given us something. It has given us a chance.
Drax: To do what?
Peter: To give a shit, for once. Not run away.
- During the defense of Xandar, Denarian Saal tells Quill he advised against the Nova Corps trusting the Guardians — and then asks that they prove his assumptions wrong.
- How Peter convinces his criminal cohorts to protect the MacGuffin from Nebula and Ronan.
- Dark Action Girl: Nebula, a deadly female assassin.
- Dark and Troubled Past: All of the party members (except, possibly, Groot) seem to have lived through some dark times. Rocket was experimented on; Gamora's family was killed by Thanos, who "adopted" her and tortured her while turning her into a killer; Ronan, who also was working for Thanos, killed Drax's wife and daughter; Quill's mother died young and then he was abducted/adopted by Yondu's gang.
- Deadly Euphemism: Ronan orders his mooks to "cleanse" the Kyln prison before the Nova Corps can arrive. He also describes the Xandarians and their culture as a disease on Xandar that he intends to "cure."
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter and Gamora are good contenders, but Rocket grabs the trophy with both paws and runs off with it (because he wanted it more than they did).Rocket: Ah, what the hell? I don't got that long a lifespan anyway.
- Death by Adaptation: Big Bad Ronan and the Collector's assistant, Carina, both die in the film. In the original Marvel comics, they're still very much alive (and Ronan is even the current Kree Emperor, while Carina isn't merely the Collector's assistant but his daughter).
- Death Glare: The Guardians minus Groot at Ronan after Peter takes the Infinity Stone and the others connect to him.
- Defiant to the End: The captive Xandarian tells Ronan that he will never rule Xandar before having his head crushed with a hammer.
- Delayed Explosion: When Gamora's pod gets blown up, we see the scene twice in short succession: first from Nebula's POV and then again in close-up.
- Demolitions Expert: Rocket can build super-weapons out of crap Quill just has lying around, whether this is warranted or not. It's okay: he was going to put it in a box.Rocket: That's for if things get really hardcore... or if you wanna blow up moons.
Gamora: No one's blowing up moons!
Rocket: You just wanna suck the joy out of everything.
- Demoted to Extra: Bereet, who was a fairly important supporting character in the Incredible Hulk comic book for a while, makes a cameo appearance in the beginning of the movie. Aside from the name and the pink skin, there's nothing left of the original character; her role in the movie is reduced to being Quill's Girl of the Week.
- Description Cut: Quill thanks Groot for actually having a clue unlike the rest of the party. Cut to close-up on Groot gnawing a shoot off his forearm, which prompts Quill to go into Facepalm mode.
- Designated Girl Fight: Gamora versus Nebula is a double subversion. It's set up on the Dark Aster complete with the two trash-talking. Then Drax just shoots her with a bazooka and moves on. However, Nebula has a Healing Factor and the fight goes on as planned.
- Desperate Object Catch: The Infinity Stone that must not touch the ground of Xandar. After it gets blown from Ronan's warhammer, both Ronan and Quill dive for the stone in dramatic Bullet Time fashion while Gamora performs a Slow "NO!". Guess who catches the gem.
- Diegetic Switch: Several scenes include music from Quill's cassette-tape player, which then moves into the soundtrack of the film. The reverse (Left the Background Music On) also happens.
- Dirty Old Man: Stan Lee is credited as the "Xandarian Ladies' Man" in the credits. This is backed by Rocket's commentary about him.
- Disco Dan: Peter; it's hard to keep up to date with modern trends on Earth when he hasn't been on Earth since The '80s.
- Disney Death: Zigzagged. Plant-being Groot sacrifices himself to save the rest of the team from a crash-landing, but his faithful friend Rocket finds a living twig in the crash site. He plants it and, in the closing credits, we see a tiny little "Baby Groot" growing... with slightly different facial features. In the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we see that his personality is significantly different. Word of God confirms that the original Groot did in fact die, and "Baby Groot" is a new being—essentially, the old Groot's son.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted with Nebula. She initially appears to be killing herself this way after rejecting Gamora's Take My Hand, but it turns out to be a High-Dive Escape. She lands on a Ravager ship and hijacks it.
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: Gamora won't be distracted by the pleasantries:The Collector: Oh, my dear Gamora. How wonderful to meet in the flesh.Gamora: Let's bypass the formalities, Tivan. We have what we discussed.
- The Ditz: Of all people, Drax, the big guy with muscles and scary tattoos, has no idea what metaphors are, and makes frequent Breathless Non Sequiturs.
- Do-Anything Robot: While organic, Groot is essentially this. He can take out the bad guys, strech himself to reach distant objects, create a barricade, and generate light.
- The Dog Bites Back: The Collector really should have known better than to leave his abused and belittled servant within arm's reach of an Infinity Stone...
- Downer Beginning: The beginning of the film shows Peter Quill as a child dealing with his mother passing away, just before he gets abducted by aliens. It's as traumatic as it sounds.
- The Dragon: Gamora and Nebula are co-dragons on loan from Thanos to Ronan, who is himself Thanos's dragon. Gamora betrays both of them early on, and Nebula becomes Ronan's dragon after he acquires the power of the Infinity Stone.
- Driven to Suicide: Possible explanation for Carina's decision to touch the Infinity Stone.
- Drop the Hammer: Much like in the comics, Ronan wields a large warhammer.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Ronan gains a borderline god complex when he takes the Infinity Stone for himself.
- Drunk with Power: Rocket sounds like he just creamed his pants when he picks up a gun bigger than he is. Which is all of them.
- Dual Wielding: A bunch of characters do this: Star-Lord has his twin pistols, Nebula has kali-like sticks, and Drax has two knives.
- Dude, Not Funny!: An In-Universe example when Groot lets out a shocked gasp after Rocket mocks Drax over his dead family.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Nobody knows who Star-Lord is, and the team is regarded mostly as "a bunch of a-holes", even though they are trying to keep a reality-destroying MacGuffin from one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Though to be fair to the Nova Corps, all they know about the protagonists for most of the movie is that they're a bunch of lawbreaking miscreants and a notorious assassin.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Collector showed up during The Stinger of Thor: The Dark World before appearing here.
- Eat the Dog: Invoked by Drax during the escape, in reference to Rocket.Drax: I recognize this animal! We'd roast them over a flame pit as children. Their flesh is quite delicious!
Rocket: NOT HELPING!
- The '80s: The story starts off in 1988. Over 25 years on, however, Peter is still very much someone straight out of that decade. Justified by the fact that he hasn't been on Earth in that entire time.
- Enemy Civil War: Ronan eventually cuts his ties with Thanos, thinking that the Infinity Gem gives him all the power he needs on his own.
- Enemy Mine: The Ravagers ally with The Guardians against Ronan The Accuser.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- One that doubles for both Peter Quill and the movie as a whole! He shows up on a deserted planet, walks into an ancient temple full of death traps and monsters... then he puts on his Walkman, and starts dancing as he walks around whilst casually kicking lizards away to the music. He even picks up one of them and pretends it's a microphone, all while it's screaming, struggling, and trying to bite him in the face.
- The movie takes care to not show Rocket until his personality is established with him mocking Xarnian citizens with his scanner, showing that there's more to him than being a small furry Talking Animal.
- Because Ronan has such little screentime to himself and yet is built up as a mass-murdering zealot, to help mitigate the Show, Don't Tell problem his first scene builds up to him brutally murdering a Nova Corps member by bashing his head in with his hammer and how the treaty between Xandar and the Kree means nothing to him.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Peter comments about this when Gamora mentions how filthy his ship is.Peter: She has no idea. If I had a blacklight, place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.
Rocket: You got issues, Quill.
- Every Scar Has a Story: Peter over-shares to Drax regarding some of his sexploit-related scars.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Onboard the Dark Aster, the team finds itself in what seems to be the machine room where they fight Korath's forces amongst giant rotating cylinders.
- Evil Gloating: Ronan the Accuser just has to make a speech before doing something particularly evil, even to those whom he is about to annihilate. This compulsion gives the Guardians enough time to improvise a counterattack.
- Evil Is Hammy:
- Ronan is so over-the-top that by the end, he's chewing up all the scenery that wasn't destroyed by his attacks.
- Nebula also has her definite moments of ham such as the trash talk to Gamora.
- Evil Mentor: Whether she likes it or not (and she certainly doesn't) Thanos is this to Gamora. He made her into the weapon she is today.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Ronan, Nebula, the Other and Thanos are all evil people with deep voices.
- Evil vs. Evil: Ronan, the mad Kree who's out to destroy Xandar, rebels against Thanos, the biggest threat to the universe, once he is in possession of the Power Stone.
- Evil Wears Black: Ronan wears black robes and armor rather than his green outfit from the comics.
- Expospeak: Knowhere is introduced via a speech by Gamora.
- Faceless Goons: Ronan's minions don't seem to have faces, particularly the ones Yondu fights on the ground.
- Face Palm:
- Rocket is the most frequent offender. Most notable when he does a double-facepaw on Kyln after Groot tears off the fuse box and sets off the prison's alarm.
- Also Quill at the end of the "12% of a plan" dialogue.Peter: Thank you, Groot! Thank you! [pats him on the shoulder] See? Groot's the only one of you who has a clue.
[Groot eats a leaf off his own shoulder]
- Failed Attempt at Drama:
- A Running Gag, starting from when Quill introduces himself as the notorious outlaw Star-Lord, only to find no-one knows who he is.
- Quill is about to hand the orb to the Collector, with appropriate solemn music, then he accidentally drops it and frantically catches it back.
- Culminating when Quill interrupts the Big Bad's New Era Speech by challenging him to a dance-off.
- Fakin' MacGuffin: The orb Quill hands to Yondu in the end does not contain the Infinity Stone but a troll figure. Quill later reveals the real orb to his team mates.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: According to this article, Guardians of the Galaxy has the highest death count of any film, mainly when Ronan massacres the fleet of Nova Corps ships.
- Fanservice: Chris Pratt in nothing but boxers or the lingering shots of Zoe Saldana's rear.
- Fanservice with a Smile: Carina, who is dressed in a short skirt, puts up a fake smile when greeting the team and leading them to The Collector.
- Female Gaze: Enter the adult Peter, headphones on, a tight below-the waist shot showcasing his Elvis Presley dance moves. He also has a rather nice Shirtless Scene later on — despite being covered in some weird carrot-juice-esque delousing solution as he's being put in prison.
- Fetal Position Rebirth: The first shot of Ronan is him emerging from a dark liquid, naked and in fetal position.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The eponymous guardians meet by attempting to hurt and kill each other, learn to trust each other through Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and end up as genuine True Companions. Summed up by Groot's line: "We are Groot".
- Flatline: Quill's mother dies in hospital on a flatline sound.
- Flat "What": Ronan's initial response to Peter interrupting his final stroke by challenging him to a dance-off is one of complete, uncomprehending bewilderment. As is Gamora's.
- Ronan: ... what are you doing?
- Flipping the Bird: Peter does an extended version to the Nova officers who are processing him in after arresting him: he mimes cranking one hand open with the other so the middle finger is extended, then apologetically confesses incomprehension of how the "machine" works and repeatedly fails to tuck the finger back in, flipping them off several more times.
- Peter's mother implies Peter's alien parentage (and Yondu's reason for taking Peter) early in the movie. She describes his father as "an angel that came down from the stars/composed of pure light", and that he'll be coming to get Peter when she's gone.
- When young Peter runs out of the hospital, you can see lights behind him fading at very slow but erratic intervals. Moments later, a Ravager ship appears and teleports Peter onboard.
- One for the next film. Yondu and his right hand discuss how they were hired by Quill's father to take him and they didn't hand over to him, stating he was a 'jackass'. Quill's father didn't exactly have the best intentions in mind, to put it very, very mildly.
- Peter alludes to the importance of dancing to fight against people who have sticks up their asses. It is important as a distraction in the end against Ronan.
- The appearance of the Infinity Stones as explained by the Collector to Quill, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot. There's even more foreshadowing: the Collector says that the Stones were temporarily all gathered and held by a group, foreshadowing the other Guardians saving Quill from succumbing to the Infinity Stone's power and letting them all use it to kill Ronan.
- The Collector requesting consent from Groot to "donate" his remains to his collection in the event of his death.
- Drax manning the Hadron Enforcer.
- While discussing what the Orb is, Peter suggests it might be a weapon whereupon Drax immediately states that they should use it against Ronan. As it turns out, it is a very powerful weapon and they do end up using it to kill Ronan.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Somewhat unusual in that the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits has two melancholics: the honorable, uptight Consummate Professional Gamora and vengeful, brooding Drax (who is less cerebral than your usual melancholic, but has the brooding down pat). The rest of the team fit quite well: Peter is sanguine, a Crazy Awesome, sociable Manchild, Rocket has a typical choleric's attitude and heaps of snark, while Groot is a Gentle Giant phlegmatic.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- The computer's data stream in the lineup scene provides some interesting information about the cast. (Rocket Raccoon bites.)
- The Stinger has a hint given away because Howard the Duck is in a cage over the Collector's shoulder when the Guardians go meet him.
- An alien from James Gunn's Slither can be seen in one of the Collector's cages.
- Although James Gunn has confirmed it isn't Beta Ray Bill, an unidentified alien that looks like Bill can be spotted in the background in the Collector's abode.
- The long numeric designations given for Morag and Xandar (M31V J00443799+4129236 and M31V J00442326+4127082 respectively) actually correspond to known stars recently discovered in the Andromeda galaxy, indicating to the knowledgable audience it as where the movie's setting place.
- The squiggly alien writing next to the obligatory Stan Lee cameo looks an awful lot like "Excelsior!"
- Friendly Enemy: Yondu is legitimately fond of Peter, but that doesn't stop him from putting a bounty on him or threatening him with death multiple times. Given how quick he is to reverse his threats as soon as Peter comes up with a reason for the two of them to cooperate, it seems like he might just be making them because it's expected and he doesn't actually have any interest in carrying them out.
- Friend on the Force: Rhomann Dey becomes one for Peter Quill, as he vouches for Peter and his allies when they warn the Nova Corps of Ronan's plans. He also helps rebuild the Milano and informs the Guardians that their records have been cleaned. Peter in turn promises Dey that he will look after them and keep them out of trouble.
- From a Single Cell: After Groot's Heroic Sacrifice, Rocket sticks one of his remaining branches in a pot with some dirt and very quickly a cute little face can be seen growing on it.
- Funny Animal:
- Rocket Raccoon — for a given value of "funny" and "animal" since he's Black Comedy and technically not a raccoon.
- Howard the Duck makes a cameo.
- Funny Background Event: As Rocket argues with Quill and Gamora about a hard-to-get component for his escape plan, Groot just walks over, grows his arms and legs to reach it, and grabs it, knocking out a random prisoner in the process. Meanwhile, Drax has wandered over and simply watches Groot the whole time. Then Rocket, still unaware, gets to the part about how they absolutely mustn't get that component before everything else is ready, as it will set off the alarm...
- Futile Hand Reach: Gamora gives one as Quill reaches for the naked Infinity Stone.
- The Future: Thoroughly subverted. Despite the film featuring futuristic-looking spaceships and cities and tech, this film is explicitly set in Earth year 2014.
- The Gadfly: Twice Rocket states he requires some random guy's cyborg bits (an inmate's prosthetic leg and a Ravager mook's bionic eye) as part of his Zany Scheme. He doesn't really, it's just a joke. The second time, everyone else shouts "NO!"
- Gadgeteer Genius: Rocket, who despite his trauma, is capable of understanding weaponry to the point of being able to design superior ones out of his head on the fly, out of junk he finds lying around.
- Gas Mask, Longcoat: Quill's scavenger garb at the start of the film, and again any time he deploys his Collapsible Helmet.
- The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson:
- Quill may be a Disco Dan, but he knows a lot about the '70s and '80s for a guy who hasn't seen Earth since he was a kid. You'd think more of his pop culture references would be to cartoons and other kid stuff, but instead he even references things like The Maltese Falcon.
- Rocket somehow gets the reference to Jackson Pollock, or at least understands the intent.
- Genre Blind: In the end, the villain is defeated because he doesn't realize he's in a comedy. He takes himself and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge way too seriously, which allows him to easily be distracted by Peter doing something ridiculous and silly, long enough for the rest of the team to counterattack.
- Gentle Giant: Groot looks pretty docile and peaceful when he's not completely enraged. There is a charming moment when he gives a flower, which he grew out of his own hand, to a little girl on Knowhere.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: The heroes have their criminal records deleted at the end as a reward for saving the day, although Dey does warn them they won't be exempt if they start trouble again.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In the trailers, when Star-Lord flips off the Nova Corps, the local computer system catches on and throws up a holographic blur filter, complete with a tooltip explaining "Obscene Gesture Imminent". It's uncensored in the film itself.
- A tough convict at the Kyln gets in Peter's face, begins stroking his face and gloating about the things he'll do to him. It's very clear that had Rocket and Groot not taken him under their protection (if only to collect on his bounty), Peter's stay at the Kyln would have been very traumatic.
- Peter's comment about about his ship looking like a "Jackson Pollock painting" if put under blacklight (with appropriately disgusted reaction from Rocket) is a particularly audacious example. Marvel movies aren't particularly wholesome, but a joke that implies the protagonist's ship is covered with semen stains is definitely pushing its PG-13 rating.
- The Ghost: Peter Quill's father never appears in the movie, despite being mentioned a number of times. This is because he's an alien. Peter's mother refers to him as being "an angel", while Yondu and the Ravagers call him "a jackass".
- Giant Corpse World: The mining colony of Knowhere, built in the decapitated head of an ancient celestial being.
- Girl of the Week: Bereet is the latest in Quill's long list of one-night stands. He even forgot she was sleeping in his ship when he went on a mission.
- Give Me a Sword: Drax throws one of the guard's machine guns to Rocket during the prison fight. Cue the small anthropoid raccoon catching a weapon almost as big as he is and cocking it with obvious glee.Rocket: Oh... Yeah...
- Glass Smack and Slide: During the escape from Kyln in the commandeered control module, a prison guard floating in zero-G smacks against the window before sliding away.
- Global Currency: "Units" seem to be the currency of choice by everyone in the galaxy.
- Glory Hound: Peter Quill regards himself as a legendary outlaw. Unfortunately, no one's ever heard of him.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Ronan gets purple eyes while possessing the Infinity Stone. So do each of the Guardians in turn, while they're daisy-chained together as Quill is trying to withstand holding the Infinity Sone.
- Glowing Flora: When the team explores a dark chamber to retrieve the Orb from Ronan, the tree alien Groot expels a cloud of bioluminescent seeds to light the darkness.
- Godzilla Threshold: When they realize that an invulnerable genocidal maniac is approaching their planet bearing a weapon against which there is no known defense, the Nova Corps decide that violence-happy ex-convicts and pirate fleets aren't all that bad...
- Gondor Calls for Aid: In spite of some misgivings, both Ravagers and Nova Force alike are talked into joining up with the Guardians for the final battle.
- Good Costume Switch:
- Gamora picks up a Ravager dark red Badass Longcoat before the final battle. After they defeat Ronan, she dresses in a more feminine miniskirt.
- Rocket and Drax change their outfit colors to match the group they're currently with. Red with the Ravagers, then blue at the end.
- Good Thing You Can Heal:
- Groot can heal well enough that he can even regrow lost arms.
- Nebula doesn't mind cutting off her hand for a High-Dive Escape because she can fix it later.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away just as Ronan brings his hammer down on the head of a captive Xandarian.
- Graceful Loser: Upon learning that he's been slipped a fake Orb by Quill, Yondu just grins.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Thanos. Most of the film's villains act as his servants, and he's given his first speaking role in the movieverse. His Ham-to-Ham Combat with Ronan establishes it solidly: Ronan isn't exactly afraid, but he respects Thanos as even tougher and nastier. Despite all of this, he's not the story's Big Bad because this plot is focused on Ronan's beef with the Xandu peace treaty.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Many throughout the film. Some examples.
- Gamora is green.
- Her sister Nebula sports blue skin.
- Ophelia Lovibond plays a pink-skinned assistant to the Collector.
- Rhomann Dey's wife, and thus their daughter as well, are fuchsia. As is Bereet, Peter's one-night-stand.
- Green Thumb: Besides the ability to extend and regenerate himself due to his Plant Alien biology, Groot can also grow other plant parts from his body. This includes a flower that he gives to a street urchin on Knowhere, and glowing spores that he releases to provide light when the Guardians are on the Dark Aster and when he is cocooning them from its crash.
- Grievous Harm with a Body:
- Drax does this several times during a prison break.
- Groot does this by growing out a limb, impaling a row of mooks with it, and whipping the entire mass into two other rows of mooks.
- Groin Attack: When Gamora attempts to steal the Orb from Quill on Xandar, she kicks him between the legs twice in a row.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: Rocket uses his prison clothes for this before he gets a chance to actually put them on.
- Hand Signals: Yondu and his men communicate via hand signals as demonstrated towards the end where he silently motions his comrades to departure.
- Happy Ending: More or less this. Xandar is saved, the villainous Ronan is dead and his army defeated, the Guardians are forgiven for their past crimes, Yondu is alright with not getting the power gem and is amused by the little momento Quill gave him, the gem itself is safely locked away by the Nova Corps (for now), Rhomann Dey is reunited with his wife and daughter, the Milano is rebuilt, and a baby Groot begins to regrow from a twig. The Guardians leave Xandar, now a family.
- Hate Sink: In this setting, you have criminals and morally questionable beings on one side, and corrupt authority figures who detain people without trial and harass them for minor offenses on the other, so it's hard to hate either of them. But then you have Ronan the Accuser, who really stands out by being so intolerably despicable and disgusting with his genocidal hatred of Xandarians and even going as far as calling them a disease. As such, he exists so to have the audience root for the "heroes" more.
- Healing Factor:
- Groot is able to grow back his limbs.
- Nebula displays this ability when she takes a direct hit from a rocket.
- The Heart: James Gunn has stated that Groot is this for the team. While it's Quill that brings the team together, Groot is the glue that makes them all stick.
- HeelFace Turn: Gamora betrays her family (namely, her adopted father Thanos and adopted sister Nebula) to aid the Guardians.
- Hellhole Prison: The Kyln space prison, featuring hostile inmates and evil wardens who will electrocute you for minor offenses.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Though Star-Lord has a helmet, he leaves it in its compact form as much as possible unless he's in the midst of a fight, or a hard vacuum.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Rocket loves to dish out pain, especially to those larger than himself (which is everyone).Rocket: I live for the simple things... like how much this is going to hurt!
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- A lot of the Nova Corps die to save Xandar from Ronan's fleet in You Shall Not Pass! fashion.
- Groot cocoons the other guardians in his body mass, and is blown to pieces for it. Rocket plants one of them.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rocket and Groot as in the comics. Rocket would rather go on a suicide mission with Groot than sit it out without him.
- Hey, You!: When Drax first addresses Rocket in the Kyln, he refers to him as "creepy little talking beast". He later finds out that with Rocket, that sort of thing doesn't sit well.
- Hidden Depths: Yondu constantly tells Peter that Yondu's crew had picked up Quill in 1988 because they wanted to eat the boy, but that Yondu stopped them because he thought Peter had potential. Yondu was actually hired to take Quill to his dad, but decided Peter would be better off with the Ravagers than Peter's Jerkass real father.
- Hollywood Hacking: Rocket's attempt to re-program the security computer at the Kyln involves gutting and re-wiring the command console under considerable pressure.
- Honey Trap: Rocket suggests Gamora does this to get some components for his escape plan.Gamora: How are we supposed to do that?
Rocket: Well supposedly these bald-bodies find you attractive, so maybe you can work out some sorta trade.
Gamora: You must be joking.
Rocket: No. I really heard they find you attractive.
- Huge Holographic Head: Ronan's comlink to Thanos on the Dark Aster displays as this.
- Human Aliens: The vast majority of aliens shown simply look like humans with hair dye, body paint, and/or colored contact lenses. Xandarians and whatever race inhabited the planet where Quill finds the Orb just look like perfectly normal humans; the latter even had pet dogs.
- Humans by Any Other Name: Quill is called a Terran.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Drax does this in the climax; not one minute after he calls Gamora a whore, Nebula appears... and Drax angrily shoots her for insulting Gamora.Drax: No-one talks to my friends like that.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Rocket calling out Gamora for biting him, just before we see his rap sheet that says "tendency to bite".
- Also this, on Groot's lack of eloquence:Rocket: Well he don't know talkin' good like me and you, so his vocabulistics [sic] is limited to "I" and "am" and "Groot," exclusively in that order.
- I Can Rule Alone: Ronan's deal with Thanos falls through when Ronan decides that, rather than give the Infinity Stone to Thanos in return for the destruction of Xandar, he can keep the stone, destroy Xandar on his own, and then take down Thanos for good measure.
- I Can't Dance: In a brief moment when they aren't fighting or being chased by anyone, Quill tells Gamora the importance of his Walkman, and she replies by saying this; as a warrior, she doesn't engage in such frivolous hobbies, but it's likely not a skill she was ever taught anyway. Quill's response is to briefly describe the plot of Footloose.
- Idiot Ball: There's a literal one in the Orb. Everyone who gets their hands on it seems to start making really bad decisions.
- I Kiss Your Hand: The Collector does this to Gamora. She doesn't show much appreciation for that kind of flattery.
- Ill Girl: Meredith Quill dies in the beginning of the movie.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Yondu likes to remind Peter that his crew was originally planning to eat him when they first picked him up, and Yondu was the one who convinced them otherwise. Peter, however, treats the claim for what it is: a joke that overstayed its welcome by more than two decades.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
- Groot does this in the final assault when he impales a row of mooks with one of his arms, then uses them to smash into the row of mooks next to them.
- Also in the showdown in the climax, this time with energy: Peter Quill, on Xandar, with the Power Stone.
- Indy Ploy:
- The revelation and argument over Peter's "plan" is an entire scene on its own.Peter: I have a plan.
Rocket: You've got a plan?!
Peter: I have part of a plan!
Drax: What percentage of a plan?
Peter: I don't know... twelve percent.
Rocket: Twelve percent?!
Gamora: That's barely a concept.
- Just as it appears Ronan is about to win, the team manages to wordlessly cobble together a plan to stop him. While Rocket gets the Hadron Enforcer working, Quill distracts Ronan by challenging him to a dance-off, baffling the Kree fanatic long enough for Drax to fire the weapon at Ronan's hammer and separate him from the Infinity Stone.
- In general, about 90% of what Peter does in the movie is thought up on the spot with very little (if any) pre-planning. He is Indiana Jones the Space Pirate.
- The revelation and argument over Peter's "plan" is an entire scene on its own.
- Inelegant Blubbering:
- Groot sticks his "fingers" into the nostrils of a large convict that rather implied committing Prison Rape on Peter, and lifts him into the air by his nose. The flagrant sobbing the convict does huddled up after Groot drops him to the ground lets one infer how painful that is.
- Rocket after Groot's sacrifice. It's not funny. Not at all.
- Innocently Insensitive: Drax blithely muses that the Guardians are now his friends even as he continues to unknowingly insult them:Drax: You, Quill, are my friend.
Drax: This dumb tree, he is my friend.
Drax: And this green whore; she, too...
Gamora: Oh, you must stop!
- Innocuously Important Episode: Guardians of the Galaxy is a pretty lighthearted movie, with few explicit connections to the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but by establishing the power of the Infinity Stones, and revealing that Thanos is after them, it's setting things up for the big showdown that will take place in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Inverted with Rocket, who insists that he's not a raccoon (or any other animal).
- Quill's knapsack:Rocket: I can't believe you had that in your purse!
Quill: It's not a purse, it's a knapsack!
- Institutional Apparel: Prisoners in the Kyln Space Prison wear yellow T-shirts and pants, with some variation. Gamora gets a sleeveless top, Drax naturally doesn't bother with the shirt, and Groot (who can't even attempt to pass for humanoid) doesn't wear anything.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Groot's vocabulary is composed almost entirely of "I", "am", and "Groot" (Always said in that order). Rocket Raccoon has no trouble understanding what he's saying.
- Interspecies Adoption: Terran Peter Quill was adopted by Centaurian Yondu Udonta.
- In-Universe Soundtrack: The Trope Codifier for the modern day. Every song on the soundtrack comes from Peter's "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" tape, which is filled with 1970s pop music that his late mother loved, and heard using either his vintage Walkman or the tape deck on the Milano. Highlights of the soundtrack include "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede and "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone.
- In Vino Veritas: It takes getting hammered for Rocket to convey his misery about his origins and how he's viewed as a rodent or vermin by others.
- I Resemble That Remark!: Drax denies any possibility that a metaphor would "go over his head":Drax: Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast. I will catch it!
- Ironic Name: Thanos, Evil Overlord feared across the galaxy, has a floating "throne room" in deep space named... Sanctuary.
- I Surrender, Suckers: During the Prison Riot, a warden points his gun at Quill and demands him to drop the prosthetic leg. Quill seems to follow suit but suddenly swings the prosthetic at the warden and strikes him down.
- It Amused Me: Rocket tells Quill to get a prisoner's prosthetic leg for his escape plan. It turns out the leg is completely unnecessary and he only asked for it because he thought it would be funny.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Rhomann Dey uses "it" to refer to Groot and Rocket.
- I've Heard of That What Is It?: Quill to Gamora: "Yeah, We know who you are." (turning around to Groot, whispering) "Who is she?"
- Jerkass Has a Point: Rocket at one point mocks Drax over him still mourning the death of his family. But as he pointed out, it wasn't enough of an excuse to get other people killed in the process.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- The entire team according to James Gunn — save Groot, who's gentle-natured to begin with. They may all be criminals, but they're still willing to stick their necks out if it means protecting billions of innocents.
- Yondu is one. A Ravager accuses Yondu as "always being soft on that boy," which Yondu vehemently denies; yet he jumps at the chance to forgive all and bring Quill back on board as soon as he offers a deal, and even smiles fondly when he realizes that Quill has cheated him of his prize by swapping out a troll doll for the Infinity Gem.