All works of art borrow from earlier works. No matter what you watch, read, or listen to, you will find similarities with past creations. The line between influence and rip-off is largely subjective. Whether someone is drawing inspiration rather than copying is subjective. So, did Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) rip off the sci-fi show Farscape? Or are the similarities more appropriately called an homage?
Guardians of the Galaxy creator James Gunn, who is a huge Farscape fan, admitted the show served as an inspiration for his blockbuster franchise. Many Farscape fans immediately noticed that influence because watching GotG felt a little like watching a Farscape remake. And if like me, you discovered Farscape after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, you may have thought you had seen this story before. There are many differences, but there are enough parallels that the Farscape influence is impossible to miss. Kayti Burt at Collider wrote this synopsis that perfectly describes the plots of both Farscape and Guardians of the Galaxy.
"A Ken-doll of a nerd gets thrown into the other side of the universe where he meets and reluctantly teams up with a hodgepodge of weird, morally ambiguous, escaped prisoner aliens. Once there, he falls in love with a tough, stoic alien woman who was trained by the villains of the story, teaching her to express emotion and develop an identity outside of that of a warrior. There’s also a deep-voiced, often unintentionally hilarious Hulk of an alien; a plant-creature who is the most Zen of the lot; and a tiny, foul-mouthed alien who gets away with being kind of terrible because, in any other story, he would be the cuddly sidekick."
-- Collider.com, Why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Is Overrated – Especially When Compared to ‘Farscape’
Farscape is available on Prime Video and GotG is available on Disney+, so you can decide for yourself how alike they are. I've listed several similarities and differences. Some items in these lists had their origin in the Guardians of the Galaxy comic series, so any similarities to Farscape may be coincidental.
John Crichton and Peter Quill (Star-Lord)
John Crichton (Ben Browder) and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) are outsiders―Earthlings thrown into a world filled with often hostile aliens.
Both leave Earth unwillingly. John is carrying out an experimental space flight when his module gets sucked into a wormhole. Peter is abducted from Earth by a gang of alien thieves.
Both end up allied with a group of ragtag former prisoners. Initially, they mistrust each other and have different goals but over time, they become like family.
Both have to deal with high-stakes situations. John has to save Earth while Peter has to save the universe.
Both have love interests who initially keep them at arm’s length. And these love interests were once members of the enemy. Officer Aeryn Sun was a fighter pilot for the Peacekeepers, the militaristic organization that keeps order in much of the galaxy. Gamora is the adopted daughter of the villain Thanos.
Both make pop-culture references the aliens around them can't understand.
Both are still affected by losing their mothers to cancer.
Both carry audio devices with them. John has a tape recorder while Peter has a Walkman.
Both accidentally ended up with something the main villain wants. John has wormhole knowledge that Scorpius desperately craves. Peter has the infinity stone Thanos desperately craves.
Both have strange things going on inside them. A neural clone inserted into John by Scorpius starts to take over his mind. Peter is part-human and part-Celestial.
Peter is roguish while John isn't.
Peter is a goofy character while John is usually sensible.
Peter usually doesn't have qualms about using violence while John is initially uncomfortable with violence, often talking his way out of conflict.
Farscape's creator wanted the John/Aeryn relationship to be the "ultimate romance." That relationship was central to the show. Many consider the John and Aeryn romance to be one of science fiction's best love stories. The Peter/Gamora romance isn't central to the GotG plot.
Peter is a womanizer while John isn't.*
*Network executives wanted the character of John Crichton to be promiscuous. According to Claudia Black who played Aeryn Sun:
“They wanted Crichton to have an alien girl of the week. Ben [Browder] put his foot down and said, ‘No, he’s not that kind of guy. This isn’t the story I want to tell.’ And on my side I was saying, ‘Yeah, what does that say about Aeryn if she’s going to fall in love with a guy [like that]?’ We wanted to investigate and have them experience the more positive aspects of attraction, as well as what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth dying for.”
-- Yahoo! Entertainment, ‘Farscape’ Star Claudia Black Revisits Aeryn Sun’s On- and Offscreen Feminist Journey
John Crichton makes pop culture references the aliens around him don't understand
Officer Aeryn Sun and Gamora
Both Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are badass women who were nurtured and trained by the enemy. Aeryn was a Peacekeeper while Gamora is the adopted daughter of villain Thanos.
Both ended up alienated from those groups. Aeryn is labeled irreversibly contaminated and faces the death penalty if the Peacekeepers capture her. Gamora betrays Thanos.
Both are battle-hardened and aggressive.
After being initially wary, both have relationships with the leading man.
Both frequently wear form-fitting leather outfits.
From early childhood, both are raised to be fighters.
Both grew up without their families. Raised by the Peacekeepers, Aeryn briefly met her mother once, and never knew her father. Gamora's family was killed by Thanos when she was very young.
Aeryn is an alien who looks human. Gamora has distinctive green skin.
Gamora is reluctant to get involved with Peter because of his reputation as a womanizer. She doesn't want to be another one of his conquests. Aeryn is reluctant to get involved with John because she's emotionally stunted, struggling to show vulnerability and express feelings.
Gamora dislikes Peter when they meet and it takes a while before she changes her opinion of him. Aeryn beats John up when she first encounters him due to a misunderstanding, but she never dislikes him (even though she believe's he's an inferior species). Just hours after they meet, she puts herself at risk to protect him, even though there's nothing in it for her.
Aeryn was a devoted and brainwashed Peacekeeper who longed for months to return to a life she loved. Eventually, she deprograms and rejects them, telling her former commander, "Everything I lost isn't worth a damn." Gamora was always bitter about what Thanos did to her family and only obeyed him because she felt she had no choice. She betrayed him when she got the opportunity.
Aeryn Sun finally rejects the Peacekeepers
Ka D'Argo and Drax
D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) and Drax (Dave Bautista) are strong, large tattooed warriors who have more depth than their outward appearances suggest.
Both have lost a wife and child and are seeking vengeance.
Both frequently use blades to fight. Drax uses twin blades while D'Argo uses the traditional Luxan weapon, the Qualta Blade.
Both suffer from fits of rage.
Both take things very literally.
Both are tough guys.
The wife and daughter of Drax were murdered. D'Argo's wife was murdered and he was falsely accused of killing her. He sent his son away to protect him and eventually frees him from slavery.
Drax has a sense of humor and often mocks his companions, something D'Argo does not do.
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Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan and Groot
Both Zhaan (Virginia Hey) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) are plant-based aliens.
Both sacrifice themselves to save their companions.
Both are the most serene members of the group but are capable of engaging in violence if necessary to protect their companions.
Groot is largely nonverbal while Zhaan can speak.
Zhaan looks human-like while Groot looks like a walking plant.
Dominar Rygel XVI and Rocket the Raccoon
Rygel and Rocket are both pint-sized characters.
Both are greedy, self-serving, and irreverent.
Both experienced abuse and are still bitter about it. Rocket the Raccoon was experimented on in a lab and Rygel was tortured during his time as a prisoner of the Peacekeepers.
Both like to steal.
Rocket is brave and aggressive, often eager to engage in conflict while Rygel is a coward who usually tries to avoid trouble.
Rocket the Raccoon was created in a lab while Rygel was a Dominar of a vast empire before he was overthrown by his cousin who handed him over to the Peacekeepers.
Rocket is more of a team-player than Rygel who at one point almost gives up his companions to the Peacekeepers to save himself.
Chiana and Nebula
Both Chiana (Gigi Edgley) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are late arrivals to the group.
Both have colored skin. Chiana has greyish skin while Nebula's skin is blue (Zhaan resembles Nebula in terms of looks. Both are bald with blue skin).
Both come from hostile groups. Nebula works for Thanos, while Chiana is a Nebari.
Both make very similar movements with their heads.
Nebula is a cyborg while Chiana is a completely natural being.
Nebula is initially evil but is redeemed. Chiana is a petty thief and con artist but isn't violent unless pushed.
Nebula is a very serious and troubled character, while Chiana is fun and easygoing.
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 LT Wright