This summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy is being pitched to the paying public as Marvel Studios’ most self-aware goofy feature to date, with Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt headlining a film written and directed by James Gunn – creator of the horror/comedy Slither and Super (a.k.a. Kick-Ass‘s weird indie cousin) – where the characters include a talking raccoon with the voice of Bradley Cooper, former Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond (Karen Gillan) as an bald-headed blue alien, and Oscar-nominees Glenn Close and John C. Reilly as space cops, among other peculiar entities.

Gunn’s movie is also a key installment in Phase 2 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, as Guardians will be responsible for introducing and, hopefully, getting moviegoers excited to see more outer space creatures that occupy Marvel’s movie-verse, potentially opening the door for comic book properties like The Inhumans to be included as part of Phase 3. And did we mention that Guardians has important ties to The Avengers 3?

So far, though, Guardians is looking quite promising, simply in terms of it being a solid Marvel superhero flick that crosses over into Star Wars-ian cosmic/space opera genre territory as successfully (if not more so) than Captain America: The Winter Soldier merges super-heroics with Mission: Impossible-style espionage plot acrobatics.

That Guardians offers what seems like an imaginative vision of alien life and civilization far away from Earth, to go with the customary fireworks and sense of fun that you expect from a Marvel Studios’ project, is just icing on the cake. You can get another early taste of the film’s strange flavor by perusing through the following Marvel-sanctioned production images – previously only available online in scanned form – that’ve been included below (click the image to enlarge):

Elements such as Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s (Pratt) unusual face mask – you can observe that more closely above – and the fact that the Guardians, prior to teaming up, start out as full-fledged criminals instead of noble beings (see their prison uniforms in the second to last image) are part of what makes Guardians of the Galaxy something of a risky proposition for Marvel Studios. On the other hand, with risk comes excitement and the potential for greater rewards than might’ve been gained from playing it safe.

Plus, if Marvel is to continue thriving at the comic book/superhero moviemaking game, then it needs to keep mixing things up – for example, by giving more studio system “outsiders” like Gunn the means necessary, in order to realize their offbeat visions on the big screen. Fingers crossed, Guardians might end up justifying that investment (and thus, offer more hope for the studio’s future).

Guardians of the Galaxy opens in U.S. theaters on August 1st, 2014.

Source: Marvel