By far the wildest card in Marvel's Phase 2 deck, James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy continues to raise eyebrows, not least because it's going to have a talking raccoon in it. Casting so far has taken in Michael Rooker, Dave Bautista, Ophelia Lovibond, Chris Pratt and Lee Pace, while Zoe Saldana is still considering an offer to play Gamora. The latest name awaiting a tick on Gunn's register is character actor John C. Reilly.
Equally at home with Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers), a superhero blockbuster would be something new for Reilly. His character in Guardians would be Rhomann Dey, who's described as the Agent Coulson of this pocket of the Marvel Universe: a human agent serving as a liaison between the Guardians and S.H.I.E.L.D.
If that's correct, it's further evidence of how radically Gunn is prepared to shake up his source material, since that character description seems to bear no resemblence to the Dey from the comics. The original Dey was a "Centurion" for the Nova Corps: a military exploration unit operating off the planet Xandar, drawing power from an unlimited energy source called the Nova Force, which comes from a giant living computer called the Worldmind. That old story, eh?
"Human liaison" is, shall we say, something of a tweak to that origin (unless we're going to get into the business of Dey transferring his powers to Richard Rider, "The Human Rocket"), but all will no doubt become clear in due course. “[Gunn] has a very twisted take on it," said Joss Whedon recently, "but it all comes from a real love for the material. I know he's going to come from left field..."
Shooting starts here in the UK in June, for a release date of August 1, 2014.