After Thor and The Avengers introduced moviegoers to the cosmic side of the Marvel universe, we knew Phase Two of the film franchise would build on these story elements and characters and fully embrace the multitude of otherworldly stories available from decades of pre-existing Marvel Comics lore.
Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige has touted for years that this major part of Marvel Comics was something he very much wanted to explore on the big screen. With Guardians of the Galaxy, their riskiest project to date, Feige is making it happen with the help of director and writer James Gunn, who has the task of crafting the most extreme sci-fi film for the studio yet.
In issue #233 of SFX (available March 6th), Feige spoke on the topic of the cosmic side of the Marvel cinematic universe. With rumors of Iron Man 3 possibly seeing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) head to space, and Thor: The Dark World joining Guardians in embracing space-faring adventures, is it fair to say that this setting is essential to Phase Two as a whole?
"I wouldn't say that in a broad sense. The Thor film and the Guardians Of The Galaxy film certainly are cosmic. Guardians and Thor will take the brunt of the cosmic side of the universe, particularly Guardians, which is 95% in space. I think Iron Man 3 shows the other side of Phase 2, which is delving deeper into the characters. Throwing them on a much more personal journey. And Captain America will showcase… What's exciting to me about Cap – sort of about Iron Man 3 too if you look at it – is it’s tonally almost like a different genre. Shane Black’s described Iron Man 3 as a Tom Clancy sort of political thriller, which I like a lot. We hired our directors on Cap because they loved our explanation that we really want to make a '70s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie. Just like with the first film – we got Joe Johnston because we said, ‘We want to do a '40s World War Two movie masquerading as a big superhero movie.' I love that we’re doing a sequel to a film that’s a completely different genre than the first film. I think that’s fun. And the comics do it all the time."
The 5% of non-space likely refers to a few scenes on earth, used to setup the human background of lead characters like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Drax the Destroyer, but it could also be used at the end of the film if it sees these characters, now a team of cosmic Avengers themselves, land on our planet to meet Earth's Mightiest.
With word that Thanos will return after his brief appearance in The Avengers for not only Guardians of the Galaxy but for The Avengers 2, how integral is Guardians to the other Phase Two films and vice versa?
"I would say that it does not. It’s much more of a standalone film. It takes place in the same universe. And when we've been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what’s happening out there at this time."
While Feige may position Guardians of the Galaxy as its own, seemingly independent adventure, it will still very much be connected to the future of the franchise. There's no reason to put as much money and resources behind such a risky and obscure property if it wasn't integral to the bigger picture plans of the studio. What happens in Guardians of the Galaxy will have an important part to play in The Avengers 2 and beyond, come time for Phase Three.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if you're excited for a pure space-based Marvel movie!
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, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.