Guardians of the Galaxy

Release Date: August 1, 2014

NEW ADDITIONS: Bradley Cooper (Voice), Vin Diesel (Voice/mo-cap), Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace.

RISK ASSESSMENT: So, your mission is to launch one of your more obscure and strange comic book titles as a massive “Avengers in Space” franchise with multimedia aspirations. How do you do it? Why, by shelling out the dough for a massive cast!

See, you take a mix of serious upcoming talent (Pratt, Saldana, Gillan, Pace); anchor them with some prestige-level veteran talent (Close, Del Toro) and reliable character actors (Reilly, Rooker); and for good measure, you get some A-list stars in the group (Diesel, Cooper), in order to attract  mainstream attention to your weird movie.

Hey, we’ve seen worse plans, and like Captain America 2Guardians of the Galaxy has stacked the deck as best one can in the casting department. Picking Pratt (Parks and RecZero Dark Thirty) could turn out to be a stroke of genius, and when word hits the mainstream about Bradley Cooper voicing a space raccoon with guns, Guardians is going to get some serious hard looks from the average viewer. Best take advantage.

OVERALL RISK:  Moderate – We have no idea if director James Gunn was able to make his cast gel, if some of them (Bautista) are even up to the task – not to mention, what they all look like all dressed up in funky future/alien garb.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1, 2015

NEW ADDITIONS: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Thomas Kretschmann, James Spader

RISK ASSESSMENT: So far, Avengers 2 has taken a “smarter, not bigger,” approach to casting. Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) and Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy) are fast-rising cinephile favorites, and they’re both about to get a major mainstream boost this year, thanks to playing the leads in Godzilla. Adding them to the Avengers roster as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch couldn’t come at a better time. 

On the villain front, Kretschmann (WantedKing Kong) is a very reliable German character actor playing an iconic German villain (Baron von Strucker, that’s a no-brainer); meanwhile, James Spader made the jump back to network TV with The Blacklist and has already netted himself a Golden Globe nomination for playing that show’s anti-hero/villain. There’s just no substitute for good Spader – which is why we’re so excited to see him as a killer robot.

All in all, the new Avengers 2 casting additions inspire a lot of confidence.

OVERALL RISKLow – You could bet on any one of the new additions and it’d be a solid bet. Together, they’re aces.

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