James Gunn's "Guardians Of The Galaxy" promises to be one of the strangest of the Marvel movies so far, and that excites me.
Drew Pearce, who collaborated with Shane Black on the "Iron Man 3" script, was almost hired to work on the final polish for this film, but it looks like Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will be doing the final polish on the script that Nicole Perlman and Chris McCoy wrote instead.
Quick side note… is Perlman the first female writer on a Marvel movie?
In a lot of ways, Marvel is treating "Guardians" as the beachhead for a new chapter of the universe, and they're seeding the film with archetypes that have worked well for them. Chris Pratt is onboard as Star-Lord, who is also known as Peter Quill, and they're looking to him to be the Robert Downey Jr. of this franchise. Fast, funny, able to play emotional while still getting big laughs.
Everyone in this film has a connection of some sort to Thanos, which is by design. Zoe Saldana (who apparently is not fully committed to the film yet) plays Gamora, whose entire race was wiped out by Thanos when she was just an infant. Thanos actually raised her, planning to make her a weapon when she got old enough, and she learned of his plans, leading her to run away. She has superhuman strength and speed, and she's been trained to be a master of all fighting arts, especially involving blades, something Thanos hoped to use for himself.
Drax, who will be played by Dave Batista in the film, actually started life as a saxophone player named Art. I'll give you a moment to bask in the possibility that we're going to see a flashback to Dave Batista playing sax. He was killed by Thanos in the Mojave Desert, where his "astral form" was later found by Kronos, who was trying to stop Thanos. He used this astral form to create a superhuman warrior named Drax, who can fly and who is practically invulnerable. He can fire cosmic blasts as well.
When we meet Rocket Raccoon in the film, he and his partner Wal Russ (a talking walrus) are guards at The Keystone Quadrant, an intergalactic asylum for the criminally insane. Again, I'll give you a moment. Soak that one in.
Reading this so far, you might suspect that Thanos is the main bad guy in the film, but it doesn't seem to be the case. Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, is this film's bad guy, a space pirate of sorts, and at least at the start of the film, Lee Pace will also be playing a villain who will eventually switch sides so he can be set up for his own spin-off film as… someone? Could he be Nova? Adam Warlock? Mar-Vell, which would allow Marvel to then introduce Ms. Marvel to their cinematic staple?
By far, though, the biggest news that's brewing about "Guardians" right now involves a character named Rhomann Dey. They've made an offer to John C. Reilly to play the part, and if he comes aboard, it's a big commitment. Basically, he's been designed as the Agent Coulson of the "Guardians" movies. He's the human agent who serves as a go-between, keeping the Guardians in line and reporting to SHIELD about their activities.
What's that you say? Rhomann Dey was the leader of the Nova Corps in the comics and not a human being on Earth? And he basically became the Abin Sur of the Marvel Universe when he picked Richard Rider to give his Nova powers to?
Hmmmmm. Very, very interesting.
There's a hint that we'll see some other familiar faces. Groot, for example, originally comes to Earth looking to experiment on humans, but Nick Fury talks him out of his and convinces him to help us instead. But Dey is going to be the primary face of normal humanity for the "Guardians" films, and Reilly would be an intriguing addition to the Marvel Universe. He's got the exact right demeanor for a movie featuring talking trees, weapon-bearing raccoons and walruses, and lots of drop-ins from outer space. Reilly will have a peer, someone who is their liaison for the Guardians, and Marvel is looking at names as disparate as Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, and Ken Watanabe for that part.
What do you think? Sounds like "Guardians" is shaping up as a big, sprawling, vibrant new corner of one of the biggest cinematic universes around, and I'm crossing my fingers that Reilly makes his deal.
"Guardians Of The Galaxy" arrives in theaters August 1, 2014.