James Gunn recently took time off from sitting around his house like the rest of us for a live rewatching of his breakout film Guardians of the Galaxy. He live-tweeted various facts about the making of the movie during the watch party. One of the tweets confirmed a connection between the Guardians movie, and the children's classic Wizard of Oz.
Despite the majority of its plot taking place in space, Guardians of the Galaxy opened on Earth, where a young boy named Peter Quill is flown against his will out of his small town in middle America, on an adventure to a strange new world. This is basically the same way Dorothy's adventure begins in The Wizard of Oz, so the connection between the beginning of both movies makes a lot of sense.
But the similarities don't end there. Ever since the film's release, a number of fans have pointed out the many ways in which Guardians of the Galaxy is just like Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, Peter Quill finds himself trying to survive in an unfamiliar and dangerous new world. At his side is Gamora, an ally in need of a heart/compassion, Rocket, created in a lab from which he manages to escape, just like the Scarecrow, and Drax, a powerful being who learns to overcome his personal demons, in a similar manner to the cowardly lion.
Even Groot can be likened to Dorothy's dog Toto, since Gunn has stated in the past that the character of Groot was inspired by his own pet canine. There is also Nebula, who wishes to do harm to Peter and his friends just like the Wicked Witch of the West. The similarities don't end with the first movie, since the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy introduced us to an Oz-like figure in Peter's dad Ego, who promises to give Peter his heart's desire, but ultimately ends up being a deceiver.
It will be difficult to determine how many of the similarities between the two stories is coincidental and how much of it was deliberate. But James Gunn has confirmed that Dorothy's story was at least an inspiration for the start of Peter's journey. Besides, this was far from the only classic movie to inspire Gunn's work within the MCU. The Indiana Jones series is another famous franchise that was the inspiration behind the introduction scene of a grown-up Peter Quill entering an alien temple to retrieve an infinity stone.
Putting aside the inspirations, the characters from the Gaurdians franchise have evolved into their own distinct personalities and are huge fan favorites among viewers. There is already a great deal of excitement for the planned third part of the series currently in development. It will feature a newcomer to the group, in the shape of Thor, God of Thunder, as he joins the Guardians on their quest to find and bring back the Gamora from the past who is currently running around in their present.