guardians of the galaxy movie logo Marvel In Talks With James Gunn To Direct Guardians of the Galaxy

With directors officially attached to each of the movies on Marvel’s upcoming “Phase 2″ slate bar ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ The Hollywood Reporter today reveal that James Gunn has emerged as Marvel’s choice to direct the space superhero saga. Sources reportedly say that Marvel Studios big-wigs are now talking exclusively with Gunn, whose previous credits include the genre films ‘Slither’ and ‘Super.’ The studio is said not to have ruled out others in the running, with Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) and the ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ and ‘Half Nelson’ helming team Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden also in the mix. Marvel are said to like Gunn’s ability to mix comedy elements with action and horror, a quality he shares with ‘The Avengers’ director Joss Whedon, who, with his newly signed exclusive contract with Marvel, is now a major architect of the company’s expanding cinematic universe.

First officially announced at Comic-Con last month, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is the first original title in Marvel’s “Phase 2″ of movies, which also includes next summers ‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ presumably hopefully Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man,’ and Joss Whedon’s tentatively titled ‘The Avengers 2.’  ’Guardians of the Galaxy’ has been scheduled for a August 1st, 2014 release date, the team for that film will include Drax the Destroyer, a human resurrected as a green warrior with the sole purpose of killing Thanos (the villain in ‘The Avengers mid-credits tease); Groot, a giant tree-man; Star-Lord, a gun-toting half-human/half-alien intergalactic vigilante; Rocket Raccoon, a genetically engineered animal with a knack for guns and explosives; and Gamora, the last survivor of her species who was saved by Thanos to be his assassin but now battles him. Chris McCoy has signed up to rewrite the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ script from a draft by Nicole Periman. While he has yet to achieve a produced credit, McCoy is considered to have a lot of heat as a writer. The screenwriter has had three of his specs land on the Black List (the annual list of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays): ‘Get Back’ in 2007, ‘Good Looking’ in 2009 and ‘Good Kids’ in 2011. His scripts have been praised for their quirky comedic bent.

Next up on Marvel’s slate is ‘Iron Man 3,’ which returns Robert Downey Jr as the iconic Super Hero character Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes, and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan. The likes of Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Guy Pearce and William Sadler join the Marvel universe in ‘Iron Man 3′ as The Mandarin, Maya Hansen, Eric Savin, Aldrich Killian and Sal Kennedy, respectively. ‘Iron Man 3’ arrives in cinemas May 3th, 2013. Following that are ’Thor: The Dark World,’ which is set to be released November 8th, 2013, and ’Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ which is pegged for a April 4th, 2014 release date.

The Captain America sequel will pick-up where Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ left off, as Steve Rogers continues his affiliation with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D and struggles to embrace his role in the modern world. In ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman will reprise their roles from the first film, while Zack Levi is confirmed to play Fandril. Alan Taylor, an accomplished TV director whose credits include ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Mad Men,’ and ‘The Sopranos,’ takes over directorial duties from Kenneth Branagh, who helmed the first ‘Thor’ film. Last week Marvel Studios pencilled in a May 1st, 2015 release date for ‘The Avengers 2.’ Widely praised by fans and critics alike, Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ is currently sitting comfortably at the third spot on the all-time world box office list with a hefty haul of $1.436 billion, trailing only James Cameron’s ’Titanic’ ($2.185 billion) and ‘Avatar’ ($2.782 billion). Marvel recently signed a deal for ‘The Avengers’ writer/director Joss Whedon to return for ‘The Avengers 2′ as well as help develop a new live-action series for Marvel Television at ABC.