‘Guardians of the Galaxy’: Who are these guys?

Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk — the four headliners of “The Avengers” movie — were at least somewhat well-known entities when they landed on the big screen. Now, they’re all sure-fire blockbusters, blazingly popular. Even your grandmother knows who Iron Man is now.

Come Aug. 1, the latest Marvel Comics property will hit the big screen: “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Wait. Who?

Perhaps the least known property in the Marvel Comics cinematic universe, “GotG” takes the Marvel movies to space with five “heroes” that are probably only known to fans who read the comics. But the Guardians are no new property. They actually pre-date characters like Wolverine, having first appeared in 1969, created by writer Arnold Drake and artist Gene Colon in issue 18 of “Marvel Super-Heroes.” The team was set far in the future in the 31st century and featured a completely different cast of characters. They appeared for a few short runs in anthology titles and guest spots in various Marvel Comics.

Fast forward to 1990 and the team is brought back, for the first time in their own title. The comic, also set in the future, ran through 1995 for a 62-issue run. The characters are then largely ignored again.

In 2006, Marvel Comics does a big crossover storyline called “Annihilation,” which brought a lot of the company’s cosmic characters back. “Annihilation” spawned a sequel, “Conquest,” and from there came, in 2008, a new “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic, this one set in contemporary times with an entirely new cast of characters, written by a pair of British writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. That series ran for 25 issues, and yet another “Guardians” book that launched in 2013, and currently is still being published monthly.

The upcoming film is based on the 2008 version of the team. Despite having been re-launched more than five years ago, the characters are still unknown to many of the Marvel cinematic fans.

But, as usual, amNewYork has got your back. We do know these characters, and we’re going to help you get up to speed before you see the film.