Marvel's all-star superhero team The Avengers have been hogging the big screen limelight in recent years, but who could have thought that a ragtag band of intergalactic misfits containing the likes of a talking tree and a trigger-happy raccoon was all it would take to knock them off their lofty pedestal?
James Gunn's live-action sci-fi film Guardians Of The Galaxy - adapted from the comic books of the same name - has almost single-handedly resuscitated a floundering 2014 summer box office, blasting to a whopping US$94.3 million (S$117.5 million) opening weekend.
With its refreshing retro-yet-futuristic feel, impressive special effects and zany characters, it has also been received well critically - Rotten Tomatoes reported a 92 per cent approval rating of the film.
In fact, so confident was Marvel in the success of the film that a sequel was confirmed - set for a July 2017 release - during last month's San Diego Comic-Con.
The current incarnation of the Guardians first appeared in comic books in 2008, which tells of how the half-human, half-alien superhero Star-Lord forms a team of interstellar heroes dedicated to protecting the galaxy.
Most die-hard Marvel fans would be able to recite, say, Iron Man's back story by heart, but how many can really fill you in on Drax the Destroyer's sad past? Without giving too much away, we take a closer look at each Guardian featured in the film.
1. Star-Lord / Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt)
Following the death of his mother to cancer in 1988, a young Peter Quill is abducted by alien mercenaries known as Ravagers.
Fast forward 26 years, and the self-styled "Star-Lord" is a resourceful but philandering scavenger who finds himself smack in the middle of an intergalactic tussle after retriving a powerful object called an Infinity Stone.
Armed with a variety of high-tech gadgets and weapons, including his cool-looking battle helmet, Quill has also inherited a fondness for 1980s pop music through his mother and keeps his old school casette player close by.
2. Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana)
A green-skinned alien raised by the supervillain Thanos to become a deadly assassin after he murdered her family.
Hates her adopted father for torturing her when she was a child and sides with the Guardians after being sent by the film's main antagonist Ronan the Accuser (who's working for Thanos) to retrieve the Infinity Stone from Star-Lord.
A formidable hand-to-hand combatant with enhanced strength and agility, Gamora is particularly skilled with knives and swords.
3. Drax the Destroyer (played by Dave Bautista)
The death of his wife and child at the hands of Ronan fuels an insatiable thirst for vengeance in Drax, the requisite muscle of the team.
Meets the Guardians in prison and helps them to escape, before allying himself to their cause upon realising the folly of his blind hatred. His preferred weapons of choice are a pair of wicked looking daggers.
While green-skinned in the comics, the film version portrays Drax in a shade of grey and covered with intricate tattoos.
4. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper)
Known as Rocket Raccoon in the comics, the fast-talking Rocket is a genetically engineered animal with cybernetic implants in his body, showing himself adept at using guns and building bombs.
Initially a bounty hunter after Star-Lord, he reluctantly becomes part of the Guardians and serves as their technical expert and pilot.
Possesses a wicked sense of humour but is also a master tactician.
5. Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)
This intelligent tree-like humanoid is the loyal friend and bodyguard of Rocket.
As much a deadly fighter as he is a caring companion, Groot can increase his size at will, sprout deadly branches to entangle and spear his enemies, generate light and grow a protective cocoon around people to protect them from explosions.
Is seemingly capable of uttering only a single sentence - "I am Groot" - throughout the film, later revealed to contain different meanings.