Marvel is officially in the Cosmic business.
That's Cosmic with a capital 'C' because, while the studio's big screen output so far has consisted of (mostly) Earth-centric adventures, Guardians Of The Galaxy introduces audiences to the Marvel Cosmic Universe.
Yes, we're heading into space. (Properly this time – Asgard and Iron Man's brief spacewalk in Avengers don't really count.) With Marvel announcing at Comic-Con 2014 that Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will be in cinemas in July 2017 , clearly it's thinking seriously about all this Cosmic stuff.
And with head Marvel honcho Kevin Feige confirming six release dates for untitled movie projects (5 May and 3 November 2017; 4 May, 6 July and 2 November 2018; and 3 May 2019), it stands to reason that at least some of those will be Cosmic productions.
But how will the studio go about creating a series of Cosmic films as enticing, profitable and downright entertaining as its Avengers movies? We mainlined some ooky space drink, slipped on our Infinity Gauntlet and scribbled down some ideas...
Guardians Vs Avengers
Obviously, this is where the Marvel Cosmic Universe would get a massive boost, but bear with us, because this is where things get complicated.
Guardians 2 is due in 2017, alongside a secret Marvel movie that could very possibly be Avengers 3. And with director James Gunn confirming that Guardians is “definitely connected to Avengers 3 ”, it stands to reason that Avengers 3 will actually be a massive epic in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvel Cosmic Universe come crashing together.
Could Thanos finally descend on Earth in Avengers 3 ? And would the Guardians follow him there? We're already imagining a scene in which Rocket Raccoon looks on in disgust as his wild brethren root through bins in New York City...
Just to make things even more confusing, there's a character called Captain Marvel in both Marvel and DC Comics. (The Rock's been linked to the latter.)
Obviously, here we're talking about the Marvel version, a Kree warrior who's renowned for taking down the Skrulls in battle. (Handily for rights battles, he also goes by the name Mar-Vell.)
Captain Marvel's been a Cosmic mainstay since his first appearance in 1969, and could definitely be a frontrunner for the Marvel movie treatment, especially as his story is massively tied up with the Avengers – in the comics, he's pivotal in taking down Thanos using the Cosmic Cube...
Of course, that’s just one version of Captain Marvel – there are seven in the comic cannon, including a female incarnation that could help even out the movies’ sausage quota.
Otherwise known as The Saviour Of Worlds (yes, this guy likes himself a lot), Adam Warlock was created in a scientific complex called The Beehive. In short, he's a 'perfect human' with super-strength and energy-manipulating powers. (He's also pretty good at making cocoons...)
Though the comics have seen him variously butting heads with the Fantastic Four and Thor, Warlock became a member of the Guardians Of The Galaxy in comic Annihilation: Conquest , meaning he's basically a shoo-in for Guardians 2.
And considering he winds up with the Soul Gem (one of those all-important Infinity Stones), he's something of a pivotal player within the Thanos arc already established in the Marvel movies. A solo Warlock movie is all-but guaranteed...
Yes, another super-group. The Inhumans are superheroes created when scientists test Kree DNA on innocent humans. The Inhumans belong to the Marvel Cosmic Universe and consist of characters we've yet to see on-screen, including Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak and Gorgon.
“Inhumans is something that we are definitely thinking about and we think there’s great potential there for a great movie,” Feige has admitted. But will we get an Inhumans movie?
Though Guardians succeeded in introducing a whole new team from scratch, it could be a tricky prospect doing the same again for Inhumans.
One way around that? Fan theories regarding the issue of being unable to call Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (in Avengers 2 ) “mutants” include simply making them Inhumans (says Feige, though: “No. No, no, no.”). Either way, this is definitely on Marvel's radar and we wouldn't be surprised if it's part of the studio's overall game plan...
Not to be confused with Glenn Close's character in Guardians (she plays Nova Prime), this guy (also known as Richard Rider and The Human Rocket) becomes a part of the Nova Corps and is granted a load of cool abilities, including the ability to fly.
Apparently Nova was actually cut from Gunn's Guardians movie in order to keep the focus on Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, but with the Nova Corps already established by Guardians , the groundwork's been laid for Nova to make an appearance down the line.
Guardians 2 , maybe?
Though he first appeared in the X-Men comics, Stranger also crops up in the Avengers comics, encountering Captain Marvel before skipping over to Marvel Team-Up and attempting to pinch Adam Warlock's Soul Gem.
Described as a “surveyor of worlds”, Stranger first comes to Earth out of curiosity before getting wrapped up in the various super-scraps taking place there. He's basically immortal and equipped with cosmic powers.
Why will he turn up in the Marvel movies? Well, he's a key player in the Infinity Gauntlet limited series, going up against Thanos with a little help from Epoch and Galactus...
One of the rare Cosmic characters who’s actually an ordinary guy afforded unimaginable power (the others are, generally speaking, gods or born with their super-human powers), Quasar is notable because he has links to both the Avengers and the Guardians.
In the comics, he is a team member of the Annihilators (space heroes that exist in the same universe as the Guardians) and he’s also fought alongside the Avengers. Could he be the pivotal link between the two teams if an Avengers Vs Guardians movie happened?
Guardians Of The Galaxy opens in the UK on 31 July 2014.