Marvel's other foray into the realm of the space-bound fantastical is Guardians of the Galaxy. Written and directed by maverick oddball James Gunn (Slither), Guardians will be the final Phase II film before The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. We've heard quite a few insights from director James Gunn's cast, including Benicio del Toro (who plays The Collector), Michael Rooker (blue-skinned alien hunter Yondu) and Chris Pratt (Peter Quill, aka "Star-Lord").
Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou (for his role in Blood Diamond) talked candidly at Comic-Con 2013 about his choice to take the role in Guardians after his son had expressed a desire to be light-skinned so he could someday play Spider-Man. Our own Kofi Outlaw touched on the noted lack of diversity in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hounsou clearly sees that the MCU could stand to introduce some new and interesting characters.
Talking to Screen Crush, Hounsou said:
"I mean, obviously it’s been disturbing me for some time that my son said that. So I’ve been on a journey to try to show him other superheroes that are of our color, that are diverse, and I find it difficult to find something online. The only thing I found was my own voiceover of 'Black Panther' that I did for an animation for BET some time ago. But it was interesting to be there for that and remembering that my son once said that. That was the first thing that shocked me and realized that we as a minority don’t have heroes. Yeah, that shocked me."
Hounsou went on to state that shooting's been "great," and he appears to be almost finished. He offered vague insights about the physicality of the action ("quite a bit" but "not that much") compared to some of his other roles. His comments on his place as an actor and now a character within the Marvel universe are more interesting.
When asked if Guardians of the Galaxy's relative obscurity gives him more leeway to make the character his own, Hounsou responded:
"Not really, creatively not. I think that’s what you’re saying. Creatively not, but at the same time, it is a great place to be. [These are the] vehicles of today, making films of that nature – nobody’s making nice, human stories anymore, it’s all about superheroes. And I guess it’s a period that we’re going through, and that’s all right – it’s not to be cursed anyway. But at the same time, I’ve been wanting to enter the Marvel Comics world, and this was a nice opportunity, shooting this. And certainly my character in 'Guardians' is pretty cool. So I like that."
While Hounsou sounds like he's on board with what it means to be a part of this particular brand of cinematic universe, it appears that there is only so much flexibility with what the actors can bring into the situation.
Given director Gunn's bizarre sense of humor (he wrote the Troma Team "classic" Tromeo & Juliet), Hounsou was asked about whether or not he's bringing the comic touch he's revealed here and there (most recently in the rom-com Baggage Claim), and offered a similar answer:
"Well, yeah. I’m not really concentrating or thinking about the comedy aspect. I’m just thinking about the variety of flavorful work, if you will. And again, the Marvel world always is interesting for anybody, really. And for your son to see you almost like a superhero, I mean I’m not playing a superhero but like, you know, to see you in that sort of like world is quite fun. And it’s fun for us as grownups as well to be playing tough boys. At the end of the day it’s all about cowboys and Indians."
As limited as Hounsou might be, the man is a talented actor, with such a strong, charismatic presence, and is an ideal fit with the Marvel Universe. His insights illuminate some things about these franchises that fans perhaps don't think about enough.
Thor: The Dark World releases on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.