Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming together piece by piece, now that Ant-Man is putting a cast together that features welcome surprise additions like Oscar-winner Michael Douglas, Captain America 3 appears to have found its directors (i.e. the same guys responsible for the buzzed-about Cap sequel arriving in the spring) and Thor 3 has officially secured a pair of writers, who may bring a famous (and long-awaited) Thor comic storyline to life.
However, we're still only part-way through Phase 2 and the next offerings on the menu from Marvel Studios look promising. That includes this sumer's Guardians of the Galaxy, which is the company's first non-Avengers movie to feature a non-established comic film property on the big screen in three years. Leading the charge is one writer/director James Gunn, who's best known for his oddball indie genre features - sci-fi/horror Slither and costumed hero satire Super - as well as his equally off-beat scripts for the live-action Scooby-Doo movies from the aughts.
Empire Magazine - currently in the midst of a big marketing push for 20th Century Fox's 2014 Marvel release X-Men: Days of Future Past - took a moment to discuss Guardians with Gunn; here's what the latter had to offer:
"Visually, [it's] the biggest movie Marvel has made, because of the big, big starscapes and big action sequences. Our characters are basically all villains to begin with. If The Avengers are The Beatles, the Guardians are The Rolling Stones."
Guardians will indeed be the first Marvel Studios project to really explore the sprawling and wondrous cosmic realm of the MCU; if audiences take to the final results, then it'll open up the realm of possibilities for storylines and/or obscure space-based Marvel comic properties making the jump to the big screen in the future. That includes a title like The Inhumans, which has a fairly reasonable chance of being included as part of Phase 3 (more so if Guardians is a hit).
As for Gunn's comment about how the Guardians start out as (in essence) anti-Avengers, that echoes something he previously said about how his space adventure rejects trendy cynicism and jaded attitudes towards caring for others as much (if not more) than yourself - or, as the filmmaker put it, "this is a movie that says it's really OK to give a sh*t."
Additionall, Gunn commented on the (to put it mildly) unusual nature of the Guardians world/characters:
"There's a lot of strange stuff in the movie. But I think the thing that makes it different from the rest of the other superhero movies out there is that they try and take something seriously that really can't be taken seriously because the concept is just too fun at its core."
Given that the eponymous lineup includes a talking alien tree and genetically-altered raccoon with a gun - and they might not even be the weirdest things in the movie - you can see what Gunn means about Guardians being something that "can't really be taken seriously." But, of course, the reason Gunn was sought to handle this project was because he's someone who's actually willing to dig beneath the surface of these bizarre characters and find the humanity within them; if he's successful, then Guardians might not just be Marvel's (visually) biggest movie - it might also be the young studios' greatest artistic accomplishment yet.
The cast for Guardians of the Galaxy includes Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness), Dave Bautista (Riddick), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 7) Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Djimon Hounsou (Seventh Son), Benicio del Toro (Savages), John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph) and Glenn Close (Damages).
Guardians of the Galaxy opens in U.S. theaters on August 1st, 2014.