GOTG_Teaser_PosterSpidey, Iron Man, and Captain America are household names we’ve known for decades, and any child above the age of 3 can easily give you a description of these well-known protectors of civilization. However, the name “Star-Lord” likely sounds as foreign to kids as the word as Dracarys—but not for long. This week, Marvel is set to blast off into the cosmic universe with a film featuring an all-new set of superheroes we’ve never seen before.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy provides action fans with a new way to indulge in world (or in this case, galaxy) salvation. The first non-sequel Marvel film to hit theaters in years, Guardians provides fans with a scrappy new band of misfits ready to conquer evil in a visually enthralling, futuristic setting.

Now, don’t worry, the same, good-ole’ Marvel formula we know and love still applies: Bad guy discovers object, bad guy tries to destroy world with said object, good guy(s) fight to stop world domination. Sounds familiar, right? However, Guardians pushes boundaries with new worlds, new species, new weapons, and—my favorite—really old music (played on an ancient relic known to most humans as the “cassette player,” leaving kids everywhere completely baffled).

Led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aka Star-Lord, a human who was abducted from Earth and is now on the hunt for ladies, units, and any solo-adventure he can use to spread his self-given outlaw name, the Guardians team also includes a mutant Raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) who has a penchant for machine guns and loves a good bounty hunt. Behind Rocket is his “muscle,” Groot (Vin Diesel), a humanoid plant with a lot to contribute, despite his limited vocabulary. Then we have Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a physical brute fueled by the need to avenge his family, and finally, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of the dreaded Thanos, who was raised and altered to be the perfect assassin but now seeks revenge for her alien people.

GOG_ChrisPratt_StillThe Guardians, who initially have less-than heroic motives fueling their need for the “orb” that Star-Lord discovers within the first five minutes of the film, come together in prison, and share a common goal of keeping the orb out of the hands of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the uber-villain Thanos’ hand. Ronan plans to use the contents of the orb to conquer Xandar, which seems to be the equivalent of a capitol where the peacekeepers reside.

Traveling across the Galaxy, the Guardians form a strong sense of friendship and loyalty, amidst lots of death threats, banter, and of course, obstacles from the enemy. The most notable difference between Guardians and the Marvel films we’ve been surrounded by for the last decade: it’s not so clean cut. With awesome weapons that wipe out planets (literally) and a cast of heroes that are drunk, vengeful, and have a passion for thievery, the themes at times are less than picturesque—and that’s exactly what gives the movie its heart. Of course, these motifs eventually get buried under loyalty, bravery, and general heroism, but it’s fun to watch as the characters gradually evolve from criminals to revered dignitaries.

With a vibrant cast of unique characters, most of whom are mouthy, witty, and aggressive, the film offers tons of hilarious, knee-slap worthy conversations that left the audience in stitches.

The special effects were astounding from start to finish, and sci-fi fanatics will be more than pleased by the unique settings the film offers. With countless alien species, enormous spaceships, and awful space rodents of the future (please, may we never live in a world where those rat-like horrors exist), the details of this new galaxy delight at every turn.

In true Marvel fashion, the film ends with the perfect setup to a sequel, and the superhero giant has already announced the Guardians will indeed return to the big screen. Get ready—Star-Lord may very well be the newest household name we’ll be saying for decades.