As you may have heard, Marvel announced at Comic-Con 2012 that their next big superhero franchise would be 'Guardians of the Galaxy' which hits theaters on August 1, 2014. But the 'Guardians' aren't as well known as their 'Avengers' friends, so who exactly are the Guardians of the Galaxy? Let's find out..

Marvel describes the Guardians of the Galaxy as "a team of superhuman and extraterrestrial adventurers dedicated to the  safeguarding of the Milky Way Galaxy from any force that threatens the  security or liberty of its various people." The Guardians debuted in the 1969 comic Marvel Super-Heroes #18 and made frequent appearances in Marvel titles like "Thor" and "The Avengers."

In 1990, the Guardians of the Galaxy finally got their own self-titled comic, which ran for 62 issues before cancellation. Major Vance Astro, Martinex T'Naga, Captain Charlie-27 and Yondu Udonta were the original members of the team, later adding Starhawk and Nikki to their roster.

But the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' film lineup will updated to parallel the so-called 2008 team that launched in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. The film will feature Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Groot and Star-Lord as the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Let's take a closer look at this lineup and these heroes.

The above image is the concept art by Charlie Wen that Marvel released at Comic-Con 2012, showing the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' lineup (from left to right: Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Gamora).

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    Drax the Destroyer

    Says Marvel, Drax was a former saxophonist named Art Douglas who was killed by Thanos - You remember him, right? The scary, blue guy during the end credits of 'Avengers?' - while driving across the Mojave Desert. Looking to stop Thanos from defeating Titan, Kronos (another cosmic superman) discovered Douglas' "astral form" and used it to create the superhuman warrior Drax. His powers include superhuman strength, the ability to fly and a near invincibility to physical harm. Drax can also harness his cosmic energy and release powerful blasts from his hands.

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    Looks like a tree, right? Yeah that's Groot for you. He's an extraterrestrial from the Floral Colossus species. His relatives are all but extinct and he came to Earth looking for test subjects but was convinced by Nick Fury to join the good guys. Groot doesn't speak much (his vocal chords are too stiff) but he has the power of regeneration and can control plant life with his mind. He is, as you might imagine, vulnerable to fire and termites, both of which have been used against him in the past.

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    The leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord is human...sort of. Peter Quill was a NASA astronaut aboard an international space station. The station was visited by Master of the Sun (described once as the "master of the solar system") who transformed Quill into Star-Lord, a sort of outer space policeman. He wears a suit that allows him to travel through space and increases his strength and durability. Star-Lord also utilizes an "element gun" that fires earth, water, fire and air (though he also uses to Kree sub-machine guns, which you see pictured above).

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    Rocket Raccoon

    No doubt the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' character people have the most questions about. Yes, he's an anthropomorphic raccoon and yes, he was inspired by the Beatles song 'Rocky Raccoon.' Rocket serves as the "Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant" (an intergalactic insane asylum) with his partner Wal Russ, a talking walrus. Wait, where are you going?! It will certainly be interesting to see how Marvel incorporates Rocket into the film. He doesn't have any superpowers, per se, but he does have a sharp military mind and an impressive array of weaponry at his disposal. Oh and have I mentioned his rocket skates? No? Moving on...

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    Another link to the 'Avengers' puppet master Thanos (now can you see where 'Guardians' is going in the Marvel movie universe?...), she was found as an infant by the Mad Titan who wiped out her race, the Zen Whoberi. Thanos groomed her and bestowed upon her superpowers with an aim towards using her as a weapon. As she grew older and realized her adopted father was evil, she escaped and was asked by Star-Lord to join the Guardians. As a child, Thanos bestowed on her superhuman strength, agility and speed and, later in her career, trained as a master martial artist, especially proficient with knives and swords.