What is Tony Stark doing in Guardians of The Galaxy? Brian Michael Bendis explains:
It’s more about that he’s a futurist, and he’s an explorer, and he’s a scientist, and an adventurer. You could certainty see Tony getting to a place in his mind where number one, he needs a vacation more than anyone on the planet. But number two, more like a working vacation, and thinking, you know what, I kind of hit a ceiling with my technology. I want to go out and explore some new stuff and see things from a new perspective, and really look at the Earth from a new perspective, and come back and see if that doesn’t help him break past whatever ceiling he’s hit with his work.And plus, we’re going to have some fun with Tony trying to live out his William Shatner/Captain Kirk space-girl fantasies. So Tony will come out here to be part of the Guardians, to explore the ideas that the Guardians had put in his head during AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, that the Earth is a very important part of the cosmic civilization for the next generation. So Tony literally needs to go out and look at it from their point of view to see what he can do to help. And so he gets to have space adventures, he gets to live the William Shatner/Captain Kirk, he gets to explore, he gets to invent, and Tony gets to see the world from a different perspective.
When Tony’s with the Avengers, he’s always top dog, alpha male, he’s always kind of in charge. Here, he’s going to be a fish way out of water. Even though he’s been to outer space a few times, this is living in outer space, which is a completely different thing. And basically living on a pirate ship!
Much more about what Bendis and McNiven are doing with the title in the interview at Marvel.com, including the part where Bendis explains that one of the differentiators for this series is that he’s going to give the team a more Earth-based agenda. Because that’s what you really want to see in a series set in outer space: More Earth.