It's very nearly unbelievable. Despite the fact that shooting started only two weeks ago, director James Gunn and the cast of Guardians Of The Galaxy assembled a sizzle reel of several minutes to give us a taste of the barmy, very funny and possibly completely mental space adventure coming from Marvel next year.
The footage began with 'Star-Lord', aka Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), entering an apparently deserted space ship (or temple? It's unclear). He picks up an artefact he finds there, to be shocked by Djimon Hounsou's Korath The Pursuer. "Who are you?" he demands. "I'm Star-Lord!" says Pratt, a little defiantly. "Who?" asks Korath, nonplussed. Set phasers for knowing, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, it turns out Star Lord is not quite as badass as he thinks, and next we sees he's part of a usual suspects line-up being examined by John C. Reilly's Rhomann Dey, in a roll-call of the Guardians. Here's Zoe Saldana's green-skinned Gamora, Dave Bautista's massive Drax The Destroyer, covered in red and green; Groot, who's described as "house-plant-slash-muscle" and looks like an Ent gone bad; the seen-but-not-heard Rocket Racoon, who looks, well, just like a racoon, but apparently has a taste for car theft. Star-Lord slowly unwinds his middle finger at the guards. "Oh sorry, I don't know how this machine works," he says, utterly insincerely, Pratt obviously having the time of his life.
As we see flashes of prison riots and Star-Lord getting panicked when a guard uses his Walkman, Rhomann says "They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy."
"What a bunch of a-holes" is the verdict from his colleague.
If this is only ten days' work, the film should be finished by next Tuesday. Said Feige,"We try to plan years and years out; you know that we were here in 2006 talking about one day making The Avengers. One of the things we think about is how long can we make them interesting, but we want something unexpected, and that's what led us last year to Guardians of The Galaxy. We've literally just started filming in London, it's very early days; yesterday was day 13 or 14. They very much wanted to come here and say hi - so they did!"
So joining him on the panel were Gunn, Michael Rooker (Yondu), Karen Gillan (Nebula); Djimon Hounsou (Korath); Lee Pace (Ronan The Accuser); Benicio del Toro (The Collector); Dave Bautista (Drax The Destroyer); "the deadliest woman in the galaxy" Zoe Saldana (Gamora); and "the next great Marvel hero" Chris Pratt (Star-Lord).
So how's Gunn coping? "I really like to plan everything out, to know exactly what we're doing. In a way it's no different from making an independent film; we're trying to do something new and different again."
Pratt claims his new, pumped-up look has nothing to do with the movie. "I just happened to get a tapeworm so it was great timing. No, I got the role six months ago and luckily they trusted me to lose weight. I can't tell you a lot. I can tell you that I'm a FedEx executive who goes down in a crash and lands on an island; Batista plays the volleyball. Wait, no, that's Castaway."
"Star-Lord is this guy who lives in space. He's kind of a jerk; he had a hard time as a kid and now he goes around space making out with hot alien girls and being a bit of a rogue and a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys finds a higher purpose, something to care about and fight for and put his life on the line."
Said Saldana of Gamora, "I've been blue once, so why not try green? I love being in space, I love being challenged by great roles. I play an assassin from space!"
"I'm still at the point where I go to set every day and can't believe I got this job," says Bautista. "James (Gunn) saw something in me when I auditioned and I don't know what. I fought really hard for this job; it's something I wanted more than anything I've ever wanted, and when I got it I cried like a little baby. I'm 44 years old, but I'm still the baby on set in terms of acting experience, so I go every day and learn something new and try to stretch my range."
Says Pace of his role, "Ronan The Accuser, it's early days. He's a very complicated Kree. He's a beast. he's an iconic character for Marvel since 1967, and I don't want to say too much because we're going to put it on the screen."
Hounsou admitted that, "I wanted Dave Bautista's role, but when I met him in London and saw how big he was I understood. But I'm playing Korath, and he's a great ally to Ronan and Thanos." Who's Thanos? That has not yet been revealed...
The big revelation was that Gillan has shaved her head for the role, since Nebula is bald, and the actress whipped off her red wig halfway through the panel. "I was a little worried that I was going to look like an overgrown fetus, but it's liberating."
The tone of the footage was genuinely funny and very different from anything Marvel's done before. There's an air of Indiana Jones about Star-Lord, but with a less competent, less idealistic air. The use of music liked 'Hooked On A Feeling' (playing on that Walkman) and a very knowing air made this feel something like Galaxy Quest - which is a tough tightrope to walk but no bad thing if they can do it. Guardians Of The Galaxy hits screens in August 2014.