The comics it is based on debuted in 1969 (led by the character Yondu, to be played by Michael Rooker, aka Merle from "The Walking Dead"). That team existed in the 31st Century of a parallel Earth timeline (#691) but crossed over and inspired a modern team in the Earth 616 timelines, in a series launched in 2008. This is the team led by Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, featured in the new movie. Also some interesting tidbits is that Zoe Saldana's Gamora is supposedly the adopted daughter of Thanos (the big purple, Death-loving dude we saw in "The Avengers" stinger scene), and Karen Gillan's Nebula is possibly his granddaughter. Sooo that Thanos gets around, eh?
And lest we forget, billionaire playboy and Ol' Shellhead himself Tony Stark/Iron Man joined the Guardians comic book line-up in 2012 for a time. Remember when Tony flew into a galactic portal in "The Avengers"? Maybe it's time to think about how long exactly he was on the other side, and who he may have encountered whilst there. That might just be connective tissue to the Earth-based Avengers film franchise, which returns next year with "Age of Ultron."
Anyhow, if you'd like more info on the "Guardians" characters, our friends at Moviepilot have been kind enough to assemble the embiggenable infographic after the jump. Peruse and get your nerd on, and mark your calendar for Aug. 1, when "Guardians Of The Galaxy" invades theaters.