As pre-production work on Guardians of the Galaxy draws Marvel's ambitious sci-fi epic ever closer to shooting, some specifics of the plot are finally starting to leak out. It seems, from these scraps, that certain details have been changed from the original comic books, and there's a whole patchwork of interrelated ideas and characters drawn together into something rather new. You may consider some of what follows to be rather spoilery.
First of all, let's address Rhomann Dey. According to HitFix, Marvel have made an offer to John C. Reilly to take this part, "the Agent Coulson of the Guardians movies." In the comics though, Dey is the head of the Nova Corps. and not a human being from planet Earth. Why the change? Well, it looks like they've mixed up some elements of his storyline, which originally saw him select Earthling Richard Rider to join the Nova Corps. It's not clear, as yet, but those story pieces seem to have been rewoven somewhat…
What's more, Dey will have a key liaison back on Earth and, while Marvel haven't settled on any actor yet, they've apparently been looking at Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, Ken Watanabe… basically, anybody filed under A for Authorative at Casting Central.
We do know that the Nova Corps. are in the film, and not just because Nova ships appeared in some of the concept art. It seems they've been reworked, as you might expect, but it worked – is still working, and will continue to work, I expect, with SHIELD, so I see no reason to worry.
Just because the film is going full-on Galactic, it doesn't mean we won't be seeing any of the characters from previous Marvel movies. Nick Fury, for example, is set to play an important part when he convinces Groot not to experiment on the human race but to respect and assist them instead. Drax still has his human origins, having been a saxophone player called Art who was killed by Thanos in the Mojave Desert.
While Hit Fix believe that Zoe Saldana hasn't yet committed to the part of Gamora, there can't be a lot between her and that final dotted line, what with costume and make-up already in advanced stages of development and testing.
The movie version of Gamora was raised by Thanos and trained to be a deadly killer for his forces, but as soon as she realised what nefarious naughtiness he had on the cards, she went on the run. She's now looking to put her super strength, super speed and super knife fighting skills to use on the side of the good guys.
It's not clear how all of the characters will come together, but we can expect to meet Rocket Raccoon alongside his buddy Wal Russ – another anthropomorphic animal, and if any of you think you can guess which kind, I'll accept answers on a postcard or the back of stuck down envelope. The two critters are initially employed at The Keystone Quadrant, the intergalactic asylum for those who are criminally insane at a cosmic level.
The villain of the film, according to current info, is Michael Rooker as Yondu who, as I previously understood it, was a member of a different Guardians lineup in the comics and not just some kind of space pirate. But yes, Marvel Movieverse rewiring has often been pretty dramatic, but it's almost always effective.
Also billed as a villain is the role that Lee Pace has taken, but we don't know – yet – just who that is. Interestingly, though, it's suggested that he's being set up for his own spin-off movies, at least in theory. Not that Marvel are looking to make a movie named for and centred around a bad guy – Guardians will see the character switching sides.
I can't even start to guess who he might be but it's good to know Pace will get a nice meaty part, though.
There's still more polishing to be done to the screenplay, with Marvel stalwarts Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely taking the pages through this final scrub-up. Still, planning is at a very advanced stage and there are, relatively speaking, very few pieces left to click into place.
Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release in August of next year. It certainly looks like this one is going to be a big, wild, unpredictable adventure, and I hope James Gunn can really knock it out of the park. I certainly respect the ambition and free-wheeling invention the production has shot for so far.