In celebrating the first anniversary of the latest military branch, the United States Space Force, Vice President Mike Pence unveiled that members of the new branch will be known as “guardians.” According to the official Space Force website, the search for a name lasted a year, and received hundreds of submissions, and yet, here we are with a name that can’t help but remind of Guardians of the Galaxy.
While the name technically goes back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, which was “Guardians of the High Frontier,” it’s hard not to think of Guardians of the Galaxy when hearing the new name. What’s next? Will leaders of space missions be known as Star Lords? Will transports be known as Rocket Raccoons? How about we call any greenery that heads to space a Groot?
This similarity to Guardians of the Galaxy and pop culture in general isn’t new for the United States Space Force. When the division unveiled its logo, many pointed out how it looked oddly similar to the Starfleet logo from Star Trek. Pointing out the ludicrous nature of this new military branch, Netflix already has the Steve Carell-starring series Space Force, which was recently renewed for a second season.
The news of Space Force’s Guardians even received a response from James Gunn, writer and director of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, and the upcoming third film, who said about Pence, “Can we sue this dork?”
But despite the United States now having our own theoretical Guardians of the Galaxy, the United States Space Force is still mostly a reimagining of the Air Force Space Command, and Space Force is still part of the Air Force. However, the Space Force can make its own decisions apart from the Air Force. Most of Space Force’s team has come from the Air Force, and even though the name sounds grandiose, Space Force’s primary goal is to protect American assets in space, such as satellites.
Yet even though the United States Space Force has received plenty of criticism and jokes considering their supposed borrowing from pop culture like Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy, there doesn’t seem to be any plans to change the Space Force any time soon. Even with President-elect Joe Biden taking over in January, the new administration doesn’t have any plans to make changes to the United States’ space programs. The work for a separate space branch started before President Trump, back in 2016, as a bipartisan branch pushed by the House Armed Services Committee.
Even though the United States Space Force says that Guardians was a “name chosen by space professionals, for space professionals,” it also seems like these “professionals” might have also been fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even if the name does have a legitimate basis in the Air Force’s past, it’s going to be difficult to not think of Guardians of the Galaxy going forward with this program.
Maybe the United States Space Force should just go all-in and decide to make the Guardians of the Galaxy characters the mascots for the new branch. Maybe even name the various military ranks after different characters, with Draxes and Yondus patrolling space? The Guardians are a strange new addition to a military branch that has already had its share of strangeness.