The biggest unknown in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s Marvel’s biggest reach into their back closet of cool characters no one outside of comic shops knows about and it SHOULD pay off huge. The Marvel Universe has a cosmic component. It has dozens of alien species and worlds and, while Earth is very much the center of the Marvel Universe, it is a small speck in a very big place. The Guardians are to the cosmos what the Avengers are to Earth (though the Avengers very much get involved when these events impact Earth). The team has had a rotating roster over the years, but was taken to new heights by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in their Annihilation saga (if you want a great graphic novel, check out this). The team is lead by its only human, Peter Quill (Parks and Recs’ Chris Pratt). It also features the most dangerous woman in the universe in Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer who lives to kill Thanos, and then two of my favorite characters in comics: Groot and Rocket. Groot is a giant, anthropomorphic tree whose entire vocabulary consists of stating “I AM GROOT” at different volumes. The only person who understands him is his best friend: Rocket Raccoon, an anthropomorphized weapons crazed rodent. They are the best thing ever. This movie should be an absolute romp. The villain will be The Collector (Marvel isn’t even using it’s C-level stuff, it’s using D and F level villains and still being awesome) who works for Thanos and I think we’ll see this tie directly into Thanos and how he’ll fit into the plot of Avengers 2. Entertainment Weekly has an article in this week’s issue I’m pasting below. Go grab a copy of Annihilation and get to know the Guardians. You won’t regret it.
A warrior tree?
A rocket-launching raccoon?
Probably the most daring and outrageous of Marvel’s Phase Two slate, Guardians of the Galaxy features a cast of oddball intergalactic characters who would be quite at home knocking back drinks in the Star Wars cantina.
Parks and Recreation’s Pratt plays Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord), the half-alien leader of a team that includes genetically engineered gunslinging varmint Rocket Racoon, a giant fighting tree named Groot, wrestler Dave Bautista as knife-wielding green muscleman Drax the Destroyer, and Zoë Saldana as the assassin Gamora, the last survivor of an otherwise extinct alien race.
In the never-before-seen concept art below, we see a young Quill’s first close encounter on Earth, before he is whisked away to the far reaches of the galaxy. Marvel isn’t revealing much about the craft, but it is not the ship from the comic books that goes by the name “Ship” -– a sentient spacecraft with a feminine persona who has a kind of crush on Star-Lord … (because, you know, THAT would be crazy.)
The Guardians of the Galaxy comic books began in 1969, and though it is more of a cult-favorite than a mainstream title, the movie aims to change that by introducing this team of law-and-order-enforcing cosmic misfits.
“It’s a huge story on a massive canvas,” Feige says. “We can take it to all those crazy places as long as all the characters respond in an emotionally truthful way. That’s why I believe people are going to respond to Chris Pratt and to an alien Zoë Saldana—because they did respond to that one time before [with Avatar]. And to a tree and a raccoon who, it is certainly our intention, will steal the whole movie.”
The voices of Rocket Raccoon and Groot (who, Hulk-like, isn’t the most verbal character and tends to say only his own name) haven’t been cast yet, but filmmaker James Gunn (Super,Slither) has shown a willingness to cast his offbeat movie in appropriately offbeat ways.
Saldana as a seductive alien badass? No brainer. But Pratt, known for the dim-but-lovable Andy Dwyer on TV, was an unusual a choice for a superhero. (Of course, so was Michael Keaton as Batman once upon a time …)
“He’s a hilariously frumpy, doofy guy in Parks and Rec, and he’s an incredibly kickass ripped guy in Zero Dark Thirty and that’s pretty awesome,” says Feige. “He’s going to need that in Guardians. That’s a big range right there.”
Still, finding the right actor wasn’t easy. “We did a lot of auditions, a lot of screen tests, just as we did for Thor, just as we did for Cap,” Feige says. “[Pratt] was hilarious, he was moving, he was … you bought him in the early versions of the outfit.”
As team leader both on and off screen, Pratt also helped them figure out who else should join the Guardians. “One of the reasons Bautista got the part was because his banter, and ad libs, and screen tests with Pratt were awesome.”
Now they just need their raccoon. “We’re open to being surprised,” the producer says.