Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-IMAX-Poster-sliceLaunching the first original entry in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was always going to be tough, but having it be a space-set blockbuster with a talking raccoon and tree makes it even more of an unknown quantity. Marvel hasn’t shied away at all, though, and they’ve been gearing up brilliantly ahead of this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Everyone’s excited to see how it plays out, and smart money says James Gunn’s first film in the franchise is going to be a big pay-off for the studio.

To whet North American audiences’ appetites ahead of its release in a few weeks’ time, the studio has announced a special 17-minute preview in 150 IMAX cinemas in the US and Canada on July 7th, and those attending will get a fantastic free poster in true IMAX tradition.

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers, comes a new team – the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits – Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand – with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Chris Pratt leads the titular Guardians as Peter Quill / Star-Lord, and he’s joined by Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Josh Brolin, Nathan Fillion, Glenn Close, Ophelia Lovibond, and Peter Serafinowicz, with Benicio del Toro returning as The Collector

Nicole Perlman is responsible for the original script, with Gunn doing a rewrite after coming on board to direct.

Guardians of the Galaxy will be released in 3D and IMAX 3D on 31st July here in the UK, with its US release date set for the following day on August 1st. In the meantime, if you’re reading this across the Atlantic and fancy a special seventeen-minute preview, you can head over to IMAX to find out how you can reserve your tickets.