Marvel Studios has directors lined up for their next six films and all of them are first-timers to the franchise outside of Joss Whedon who himself will be back for The Avengers 2. Shane Black is currently on the final stretch of shooting Iron Man 3 while Alan Taylor just began principal photography on Thor: The Dark World.

After that, Anthony & Joe Russo are preparing for a March 2013 start to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Edgar Wright may finally sit in the director’s chair to make Ant-Man a reality and sometime next year, James Gunn will begin production on Guardians of the Galaxy. The latter we’ve known for quite some time but Gunn couldn’t confirm until today.

The news first broke a month ago that Marvel Studios was interested in James Gunn helming Guardians of the Galaxy and as recently as last week, Joss Whedon was quoted as praising his “twisted” take on the comic property. Even Gunn’s friend Nathan Fillion spoke about Gunn’s excitement for the opportunity but neither the studio or the director of Super and Slither himself have officially confirmed it until today. On his Facebook page moments ago, Gunn posted the following statement as a thank you to supporters for all the encouragement based on the leaked news alone.

For a month or so there’s been a lot of Internet speculation about my involvement with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Until now I haven’t said anything, because I’m trying to be less expulsive about this project than I am about the rest of my life. But last night I got the go-ahead from Kevin Feige to let you all know that, yes, indeed, I am rewriting and directing Guardians of the Galaxy. As a lifelong lover of Marvel comics, space epics, AND raccoons, this is the movie I’ve been waiting to make since I was nine years old. Kevin, Joss, and all the folks at Marvel have been amazing collaborators so far, and we’re committed to bringing you something majestic, beautiful, and unique. I am incredibly excited. I am also incredibly grateful to the fans and the press for all their words of encouragement and support regarding my involvement with this project since the news first leaked. Thanks – you have, honestly, touched and overwhelmed me. And that’s it for now. Other than the occasional photos of my dog and cat here on Facebook, I’ll talk to you again in August 2014 when Guardians is released!

The self-proclaimed lover of raccoons confirms our speculation that much like Whedon rewrote Zak Penn’s script for The Avengers, Gunn will be doing the same for Guardians. He’ll be rewriting (co-writing?) the screenplay by Chris McCoy who Marvel Studios signed a month ago to rewrite the original draft by Nicole Perlman. McCoy is an industry newcomer who has yet to have a script produced but he had several of his spec scripts land on the Black List (Hollywood’s list of best unproduced scripts). We don’t yet know how far he got with his draft, if at all, now that Gunn is involved.

Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase Two:

  • Iron Man 3 – Shane Black
  • Thor: The Dark World – Alan Taylor
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Anthony & Joe Russo
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – James Gunn
  • Ant-Man – Edgar Wright
  • The Avengers 2 – Joss Whedon

Be sure to check out the official Guardians of the Galaxy concept art released at Comic-Con and let the casting speculation begin!

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, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: James Gunn