As the only original entry in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it arguably has the most to gain/lose at this stage in the studio’s illustrious career, and everyone’s betting big that it’s going to be one of the best movies of the summer blockbuster season. And if they’re not, they should be.
Gunn has a proven track record of bringing the weird and wonderful to light with a unique vision (see Slither and Super), and with characters like Rocket Racoon and Groot, the latter a tree that appears to only repeat ‘I am Groot’ when it talks, you need a visionary filmmaker like that to do it justice.
Up until The Avengers, the MCU was grounded in reality. Albeit a reality with superheroes and demigods from different realms, but any differences between its reality and our own could largely be explained away through science. Tony Stark is a technological and weaponry genius, and Steve Rogers / Captain America and Bruce Banner’s alter-ego are both the result of scientific experiments.
When Whedon introduced the Chitauri two years ago, to say nothing of Thanos, everything changed, and that was in large part what Stark’s problems in Iron Man 3 boil down to. “Nothing’s been the same since New York.”
With man-of-the-moment Chris Pratt leading the charge as Peter Quill / Star-Lord, we’ve got a lot to look forward to, and the early footage teased so far suggests he’s got his own lovable blend of arrogance that has enamoured us all to Robert Downey, Jr.’s Stark / Iron Man. The first poster’s tagline – ‘You’re welcome.’ – is sheer, unapologetic comic genius.
Joining Pratt is perhaps the studio’s greatest ensemble cast to date, bringing a slew of new actors into the fold in one fell swoop to join the Universe. Zoe Saldana looks set to be an epic female warrior as Gamora; wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista does justice to the name Drax the Destroyer; Bradley Cooper’s friendly voice should make for plenty of fun as Rocket Raccoon; and Vin Diesel’s renowned fame is sure to be every bit as entertaining with the words ‘I am Groot’.
Not only that, but we’re also being introduced to another of Thanos’ adopted daughters, Nebula (Karen Gillan), raised as Gamora’s sister; Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser, one of the main villains of the blockbuster and Thanos’ admiral; Michael Rooker as the blue-skinned hunter/tracker, Yondu; and we’ll be seeing more of Benicio del Toro’s The Collector, which promises to be brilliant, to name but a few of the main characters.
What little we’ve seen from the film so far has also teased a very intriguing orb, one which of course a lot of us are predicting will be the third Infinity Stone that Kevin Feige has already promised will appear in the movie. The studio have done an excellent job of building the suspense surrounding the Stones very gradually, introducing the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger / The Avengers and then waiting until Thor: The Dark World to reveal the Aether.
It’s still very early days, but one naturally has the suspicion that things will come to a head in Avengers 3 (or beyond) with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, granting him godlike power in what will be a war unlike any other.
Gunn and the studio have confirmed that Thanos will be appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy, that he’ll be appearing through motion capture, and that they’ve already cast the actor to play the role. In The Avengers, Whedon had past collaborator Damion Poitier play the supervillain in the brief glimpse we saw of him, but I have such a strong feeling that Thanos is going to get a re-cast in Guardians, filled instead by Nathan Fillion.
Fillion worked with Gunn on his feature debut, Slither, and has of course been a long-running collaborator of Whedon’s since Firefly. To me, it just makes sense that he would get the role of the Big Bad looming over Phases One and Two, and is most likely going to make a full appearance in Phase Three (and beyond). At a recent Firefly panel, Fillion teased the possibility of a role in Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, encouraging fans to “Check the credits.” If that isn’t a nod to the use of motion capture, rather than straight make-up, I don’t know what is. Given that he’s played a Big Bad for Whedon before as Caleb in Buffy, it seems like a perfect fit that he’d return to an antagonist role as notorious as Thanos for Marvel.
So you can see why we’re so excited about all the reveals in Guardians, to say nothing of what the post-credits scene/s will be teasing as well, with Avengers: Age of Ultron next on the studio’s line-up and much more to get excited about after Phase Two as well. With so much still to play for, and the stakes so incredibly high, you can be sure this is going to be utterly unmissable entertainment. Expect nothing less from a studio that has proven itself over and over.
Guardians of the Galaxy will be released in 3D and IMAX 3D on August 1st in the UK and US.