The weird and cosmic corners of the Marvel Comics Universe are slowly being explored on film, thanks to Thor, and are rumored as the playgrounds for future films such as Doctor Strange. Now one of the weirder teams in Marvel history, the Guardians of the Galaxy, which in one incarnation sports an intelligent raccoon as a member, might be getting a film of its own.

From Twitch comes word that the Guardians are on the development pile: following through on comments Kevin Feige made in June 2010, a Guardians of the Galaxy film is reportedly in ‘active development.’ That can mean a lot of things, and we don’t even have the name of a screenwriter at this point. So this comes down to being, at best, a very distant early warning of a possible film down the line. More follows below.

One would think that the success or failure of The Avengers, now shooting, might have great effect on this particular project. The Avengers is a team film towards which Marvel has been building for a couple years. Guardians of the Galaxy would be a team film with a whole bunch of characters no on really knows. (Unless they’re teased in The Avengers, which given some plot rumors of that film is vaguely possible.)

Here’s info on the two incarnations of the Guardians. The first version is from 1969:

The Guardians are active in the 31st century in an alternate time-line of the Marvel Universe (Earth-691). The original members of the team include Major Vance Astro, an astronaut from the 20th century Earth who spends a thousand years travelling to Alpha Centauri in suspended animation. He is also the future-counterpart of the hero Vance Astrovik, now called Justice. Martinex T’Naga, a crystalline being from Pluto; Captain Charlie-27; a soldier from Jupiter, and Yondu Udonta, a blue-skinned “noble savage” from Beta Centauri IV comprise the original team. Each is apparently the last of their kind and is forced to unite as a team against the actions of the Badoon, an alien race which attempts to conquer Earth’s solar system. During the course of the war against the Badoon, the team recruit two more members – Starhawk and Nikki – and travel back in time and encounter several of the heroes of 20th century Earth, including Captain America and the Thing.

The second (pictured above) was launched in 2008:

Star-Lord decides to form a team of interstellar heroes that will be proactive in protecting the galaxy, rather than reacting to crises as they happen. To this end, he recruits Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Phyla-Vell (the new Quasar), Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, with Mantis as support staff. On the recommendation of ally Nova, the group establishes a base of operations at the space station Knowhere, which possesses a teleportation system with near-universal range. An intelligent, super-powered dog called Cosmo acts as Knowhere’s chief of security and works closely with the new team. After an initial clash with the revitalised Universal Church of Truth, the team’s investigation of a mass of “Limbo ice” reveals a semi-amnesiac man who identifies himself as Vance Astro – Major Victory of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Astro’s declaration inspires the as-yet-unnamed team to adopt the “Guardians of the Galaxy” name for their own.

A great many characters involved in both these versions aren’t terribly obscure by Marvel standards — Adam Warlock, for example, was a pretty big character through the ’70s and ’80s. (And one of my faves, actually.) But for a mainstream moviegoing audience this is all going to be new stuff unless The Avengers makes a few introductions.

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