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Bring Forth the Anthropomorphic Space Raccoon!

There  were rumors for the better part of a year, and the appearance of “Thanos” at the finale of “The Avengers” earlier this summer seemed to imply Marvel Studios wanted to go cosmic.

And apparently they will.  Variety is reporting that next month at the San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel will announce that for its May 2014 release — following the release of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 next summer — will be “Guardians of the Galaxy,” with 2008 version of the team being the likeliest line-up to go with.

Captain America 2 will be released later on in late spring, possibly April of 2014.  Any sort of sequel to “The Avengers” would likely be released in late 2014 or summer of 2015.

Marvel Studios is ready to assemble its next group of superheroes for the bigscreen: The Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Disney division is expected to announce a “Guardians” film as its next tentpole that would launch a new set of characters on May 16, 2014. Studio had previously planted a flag on that date for an untitled Marvel pic.

The Guardians are aliens in the 31st century — each the last of their kind — who travel back in time to enlist help to battle the Badoon, an evil alien race that attempts to conquer Earth’s solar system. First introduced in 1969 and again in 2008, the newer set includes Star-Lord, Drax, gun-toting Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a tree. Characters were recently featured in an episode of the animated series “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In the comicbooks, the characters have crossed over into the “The Avengers” universe, making them fit in easily with Marvel’s bigscreen plans to expand the superhero franchise — as would Ant-Man, another Avenger. And like its other Marvel properties, Disney can exploit the Guardians across all of the Mouse House’s divisions as TV shows, videogames, consumer products and possibly theme park attractions.

Nicole Perlman, who came out of Disney’s screenwriting program, penned a version of the script that Marvel has been high on.

While Marvel will focus much of its Comic-Con presentation on “Iron Man 3,” lensing now in North Carolina under the direction of Shane Black, the company will spend some time highlighting how it plans to introduce new characters to auds the way it did with Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America. Session wraps up Hollywood’s film panels on July 14.

The website Latino Review first reported Marvel’s plan to announce a Guardians pic at Comic-Con. Marvel declined to comment, although sources confirm to Variety that Disney and Marvel are zeroing in on the project, rather than a standalone Black Panther project at this point.

Marvel topper Kevin Feige has long discussed the possibility of a Guardians film, wanting to produce a big-budget space adventure. And Disney recently secured trademark rights to produce an array of consumer products tied to the pic and its characters.

I own three of the four trade paperbacks (working on getting the fourth, which is few and far between, even at comic book retailers) of the 2008 series which only lasted 25 issues.  Despite its short run, it was a fun read.

After all, when two of the main characters are a foul-mouthed, gun-totting space raccoon and a tree who can only say three words, what’s not to love?

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