Get Ready to Root for the Bad Guys in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

·Managing Editor

Marvel heroes tend to be flawed. Tony Stark was a thoughtless, carousing womanizer. Thor started off as a disrespectful hot-head. Even golden boy Steve Rogers dabbled in performance-enhancing drugs to become the super soldier Captain America. Still, none of those guys had rap sheets like the "Guardians of the Galaxy."

A preview for Marvel Studios's next big-screen outing was unveiled Tuesday night during "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," and the new footage emphasizes that this comic-book adaptation is very different from their earlier productions. Both the characters and the settings are a big departure from the installments that led up to and immediately followed "The Avengers."

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"The Guardians of the Galaxy consists of [five] members, all of whom are very selfish for the most part," explains Chris Pratt, who plays the group's leader Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. "But they find that there's something worth fighting for." His team is made up of an array of interstellar outlaws who get locked up by the authorities and discover they all share a common enemy.

Zoe Saldana, who plays green-skinned warrior Gamora, says, "They're the thieves, the bounty hunters, and the neglected. It's not a typical superhero movie." They are joined by Drax (wrestler Dave Bautista), a bald, blue bruiser with elaborate body markings and a thirst for vengeance, along with the highly improbable pairing of the gun-toting Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the imposing tree creature Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).

Diesel teased his fans on Facebook for weeks with hints that he would be joining the Marvel Universe before finally admitting that he would be voicing the CGI character. While Groot is not exactly talkative — in the comics he only says variations of the phrase "I am Groot" — in the footage you see Diesel really delivering the creature's booming growl. And he says he appreciates just how unique the rough-and-tumble Guardians are.

"The growth of these characters allows the film to create its own personality and its own identity," he says. "That's always fun when you're at the frontier of something new."

[Related: Rocket Raccoon Speaks! Get to Know Your 'Guardians of the Galaxy']

But don't think that just because the Guardians are different that they don't factor into Marvel's grand plans. Director James Gunn told Entertainment Weekly that the events in this movie are "definitely connected" to what will be coming in "Avengers 3." Fans have been speculating that he's referring to the comic-book villain Thanos, who was introduced in the post-credit scene of the first "Avengers." And if that's the case, Iron Man, Thor and Cap will need all the help they can get, even from a bunch of reprobates like the Guardians.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" hits theaters on August 1.