The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to enter Phase Two with the imminent release of Iron Man 3. Tony Stark’s latest adventure may be faced with higher expectations following The Avengers, but by far the riskiest film of the bunch will be Guardians of the Galaxy.

Featuring a set of characters largely unknown to most moviegoers, the film has been rapidly coming together in anticipation of its 2014 release. Thus far, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and possibly Zoe Saldana are leading the film’s cast, with the story set to take place almost entirely in space. It will mark the first and only non-sequel of Phase Two, and its performance will likely affect Marvel’s willingness to take chances with its future film projects.

Kevin Feige, producer and head of Marvel Studios, recently spoke to Italian magazine Best Movie (via Comic Book Movie) about why the studio decided to add Guardians to the Phase Two roster:

“[For a] long time that we wanted to bring in a movie and adventure set entirely in space. We immediately liked the idea of making a movie based on a comic mostly unknown by people […] that present[ed] various superheroes in one movie.

“Although it’s set up from another part of the universe, a human will be in a superhero role of Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt. There will be lots of characters: from a sexy warrior to an animated tree [to] a raccoon with a gun. It’s a unique franchise and we are pleased that it’s so different from what we have done so far.”

With Guardians among the last Phase Two entries to go into production, Marvel has already begun looking ahead at Phase Three. According to Feige, at least some of the established characters will re-appear in the form of additional sequels.

“Currently, the third phase is still developing. 99.9% of our time is used for Phase 2, the development of ‘The Avengers 2′ and the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ keeps us very busy. Definitely we’re not leaving aside the old glories and we can also see familiar faces such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.”

However, fans shouldn’t expect just more of the same, as several new heroes will be brought to life as well, including Edgar Wright’s long-discussed Ant-Man film. Feige, for one, is more excited about adding another much-anticipated hero to the mix.

“Dr. Strange! I love the aura of mystery that surrounds this superhero and the magical world that surrounds him. We’ve never faced anything like this and there is a lot of material that we could exploit. I would love to also see a new superhero in the ranks of the Avengers. We shall see!”

Phase Three isn’t scheduled to come around until after the release of The Avengers 2 in May 2015, and Dr. Strange has not yet officially received a release date. In the meantime, fans have several new Marvel projects to anticipate.

Which upcoming Marvel film are you most looking forward to, and what new heroes would you like to see added to Phase Three? Let us know in the comments section.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3rd, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.

Source: Best Movie [via Comic Book Movie]