Phase 2 of the Marvel movie universe has begun in earnest with the success of Iron Man 3. We now live in a post-Avengers world, and along with sequels to Thor and Captain America, Marvel is beginning to branch out into its lesser-known territory. Rumors that everything and everyone from Ant Man to Doctor Strange to Black Panther to Marvel Zombies will be part of the Phase 3 slate are flying about like wildfire, but for the moment only one truly out-there film has been confirmed: Guardians of the Galaxy, which will be released in 2014 as part of Phase 2.
For those unfamiliar, and let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that all but the most devoted Marvelites are, the Guardians of the Galaxy are an interstellar, Avenger-like team of heroes comprised of, among others, an intergalactic police man named Star Lord, the adoptive daughter of Thanos (who will be the villain in Avengers 2), and gun wielding raccoon. Yes, a raccoon. This iteration of the Guardians (a different team composition debuted in 1969) is relatively new, with only a limited run starting in 2008. With multiple members of the team having direct connections to Thanos, however, Marvel may have included the Guardians as a direct lead-in to the Avengers sequel in much the way Captain America and Thor were for the first movie. A potentially zanier tone to Guardians of the Galaxy could also breathe new life into what will by then be eight films of fairly straight-laced, serious heroes. Quips from Tony Stark are funny enough, sure, but perhaps what the Marvel universe will need is a little more Hulk-style slapstick (Avengers version, of course).
Which brings us, at last, to today’s news. John C. Reilly, he of Step Brothers and Talladega Nights fame, is reportedly in talks to join the film, which already counts Michael Rooker, Dave Bautista, Ophelia Lovibond, Chris Pratt, and Lee Pace among its cast, with Zoe Saldana also in the pipeline. Reilly would play Rhomann Dey, who in the source material is a member of the Nova Corps (think Marvel’s answer to the Green Lanterns and you’re in the right neighborhood), but who in the film would be more like the “the Agent Coulson of this pocket of the Marvel universe,” as Empire’s Owen Williams puts it. Quite a departure, but it’s not hard to imagine Reilly in a quazi-bumbling Coulson-esque role as he tries to control and assist powers that are far above him.
Guardians of the Galaxy is set begin filming in June, and will hit theaters in August of 2014.