While non-believers may still scoff at the title, most devoted comic book and sci-fi fans alike are more than a bit excited to see Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens finally hit the big screen – which in part explains why the Iron Man director has chosen to hold the world premiere for his genre hybrid at the 2011 Comic-Con Festival in San Diego next month.

A third theatrical preview for the Cowboys picture has been released, once again teasing the mix of old-fashioned western, creepy extraterrestrial science fiction, and explosive popcorn movie elements that Favreau’s latest has to offer.

What could be described as Independence Day meets Stagecoach, Cowboys and Aliens revolves around an eclectic mix of traditional old western characters (the mysterious gunslinger, no-nonsense old timer, local outlaws, Native Americans) who are forced to band together in the face of an alien invasion.

Perhaps even more enigmatic than the film’s protagonist, the amnesiac Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), is Ella (Olivia Wilde), a beautiful woman whose knowledge of the extraterrestrial creatures suggests there may be more to her than meets the eye. Whether or not that means Screen Rant‘s Roth Cornet was correct in her suspicions about the character (which she voiced to Favreau in person) remains to be seen.

One thing we can count on Cowboys & Aliens delivering, though, is explosions and thrilling battles between men on horseback – and non-Earthlings in their insect-like spacecrafts.

See that and more in the third Cowboys & Aliens trailer below:

This won’t be the first (or last) time you’ll have heard this, but one of the most appealing aspects of Cowboys & Aliens is just how serious Favreau and his fellow creative minds (including producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, along with Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci) appear to have taken the idea of pitting Old Westerners against monsters from another world. The western setting so far feels stylized, but authentic – like a polished version of a John Ford picture – while the overall tone of the film is quite straight-faced and less tongue-in-cheek than it could’ve easily been.

Contributing to that air of authenticity are actors who’ve actually appeared in more traditional western tales before, like Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James…), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), and Keith Carradine (Deadwood). On top of that, Harrison Ford seems more than comfortable strutting around in cowboy gear, barking orders and grimacing in his trademark fashion.

Craig and Wilde, by comparison, do not look quite so much at home in the period setting – but, given their respective Cowboys and Aliens roles, that appears to partly be the idea behind their casting.

If the film’s Comic-Con screening goes off well (and given the crowd in attendance, it seems likely), that should assist in getting good word-of-mouth circulating just before Cowboys & Aliens officially hits theaters. That might even convince a few skeptics to give the movie a look on opening weekend – and from there, could help the film become one of the more financially successful comic book offerings of the summer (its lack of costumed supermen aside). As always, we shall have to wait and see.

Cowboys & Aliens arrives in theaters on July 29th, 2011.

Source: Universal/DreamWorks