Last summer, following the record breaking box office success of The Avengers, Marvel Studios proudly took to the stage of Hall H it the San Diego Convention Center to promote their next film Iron Man 3, while also officially announcing the rest of Phase Two. Before The Avengers 2 there would be sequels for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, rounded out by a new entry to the franchise: Guardians of the Galaxy.

The studio’s ambitious space-faring epic, their riskiest feature to date, would release August 2014 and while a director had not been chosen quite yet, and the casting process not begun, Marvel knew exactly who would be in the film and the core roster of Guardians of the Galaxy was confirmed via concept art.

Star-Lord (to be played by Chris Pratt) will be leading a team including Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Groot (see below) but savvy comic readers familiar with the cosmic side of Marvel Comics recognized something interesting in the background, something intentionally put there by the artist Charlie Wen.

Note the glowing star-shaped shapes in the background skyline. It’s the same shape as the symbol for Nova Corps, worn on their uniforms and displayed on their starships (see below). The Nova Corps are an intergalactic police force under the command of a living computer that grants them their powers. There are obvious similarities to DC’s Green Lantern Corps, and with Green Lantern proving to be a misfire for Warner Bros., Marvel Studios has a chance to do their own version of that, weaved within the story of Guardians of the Galaxy.

When rumors of a Guardians of the Galaxy film first started gaining traction, speculation immediately pointed towards other key cosmic characters from Marvel Comics making an appearance and Nova was chief among them. Nova and the Guardians made a splash on the comics scene in the late 2000s thanks in large part to Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning who helped craft the Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest space-based crossovers which heavily featured Nova and led to the 2008 relaunch of Guardians of the Galaxy.

In them, Richard Rider AKA Nova plays a key role alongside several of the Guardians, and since we do know that the film may focus on its human characters, Rider may be one of them, if not here, then down the road. As for the official concept art, the star-shaped objects could be Nova Corps ships and the latest rumor, from AICN, lends little more credence to this theory.

An unproven new source of Harry Knowles claims to have a friend on the Guardians of the Galaxy production team and that said friend namedropped Nova, supposedly confirming the Nova Corps involvement in the film. Since is this seemingly coming from a random, convenient source, and AICN’s latest scoops on Star Wars from similar sources were debunked, this shouldn’t be taken as confirmation.

That being said, logic dictates that we can expect the character of Nova – who’s getting a lot of support from Marvel in the books and video games (again, very intentionally) –  to show up and the concept art alone would be the most obvious indicator of this. Someone call up Scott Porter.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if Nova should play a role in Guardians of the Galaxy and if Iron Man should cameo!

Guardians of the Galaxy is being rewritten and directed by James Gunn and begins shooting in London this summer. It will be released in 3D. Expect many casting news reports shortly.

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

Source: AICN

Hat tip to Guardian Outlaw for the extra starship pic.