Disney XD
Clark Collis
September 22, 2015 AT 08:36 AM EDT

If it seems like turning Guardians of the Galaxy into an animated series was just a crazy afterthought developed once the 2014 movie became a blockbuster hit to the global gross of $1 billion, guess again. In fact, plenty of planning went into the developing the series, which premieres Saturday. So how exactly does a live-action film become a cartoon?

1. Move fast!

Marvel began prepping a cartoon continuation of director James Gunn’s sci-fi blockbuster even before it was released in theaters. “We knew in the early stages of the development on the film that we had a really special property,” says Cort Lane, VP, animation development, at Marvel Animation Studios. “We started developing the series before the feature film was finished.”

2. Don’t mess with a winning formula

Fans will see Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians embark on fresh adventures as they seek a powerful weapon called the Cosmic Seed, but the show stays true to the film’s fun spirit. “At the end of the movie they have that line about, ‘What shall we do? A little good? A little bad? A little bit of both?’” says Stephen Wacker, VP, current series. “This is a little bit of both.”

3. Find the right voices 

The show has a different cast from the film: Will Friedle (Boy Meets World) takes over Quill from Chris Pratt, and animation vet Kevin Michael Richardson branches out into the role of Groot. So, does Richardson get paid the same, even though Groot only ever utters the same three words? “He does,” laughs Lane. “But there’s a nuance to every single line.”

Want more? EW’s Fall TV Preview mega-issue has the scoop on 115 shows! Pick up your copy on newsstands now, or buy it here.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy premieres Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD.

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