“Regulators!” cries Chris Pratt, mimicking a certain Warren G, as he waits for a take on a giant sound stage at Shepperton Studios, phaser in hand. You can’t be any geek off the street if you’re going to spearhead the next Marvel franchise from comic book to silver screen, particularly one that could eclipse The Avengers; you’ve got to be handy with the acting, if you know what we mean?
Indeed, we could well be witnessing the birth of a new action hero in Pratt – better known as Andy from Parks And Recreation, albeit slimmed-down, chiselled-jawed and buffed-up now – as Peter Quill, the lead character in Guardians Of The Galaxy. It’s a space opera like none you will have ever seen, highly offbeat and derived from an obscure part of the Marvel universe, which may end up as the best comic adaptation yet.
Quill – one part Indiana Jones (hunted by supervillain Ronan after stealing an ancient orb from a dusty temple), one part Han Solo (flies his spaceship around the galaxy picking up space babes and laconically firing off dry oneliners at will) – is a half-human space pilot forced to join a ragtag bunch of space warriors after a daring prison escape.
His tooled-up cohorts include well-meaning meathead Drax The Destroyer (former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista) a green heroine (Zoe Saldana), a tree-like humanoid (voiced by Vin Diesel) and a bad-ass raccoon assassin (voiced by Bradley Cooper). We told you it was offbeat. On set, during day 33 of its lengthy 84-day shoot, we see them all infiltrating Ronan’s eerie, Alien-esque spaceship to be met by gunfire from Karen Gillan’s bald-headed baddie.
Later, we set foot on Quill’s spaceship, the Milano. From its gaming-like joystick at the controls, to Alf trading cards around the bunk bed, it’s visual shorthand for the film’s Eighties-kid-turned-man-child. Another notable feature is the cassette deck above his bed – it’s important, as Quill’s cheesy, rock-laden Eighties mixtape soundtracks the film.
Camp? Loud? Pyrotechnics? It’s fair to say the bands on the soundtrack will match the film’s histrionics, but as for a band to compare this talented ensemble to? “If The Avengers are The Beatles,” says director James Gunn, then “The Guardians are the Rolling Stones.”
Looks like you’d better mount up then, hadn’t you?
Guardians Of The Galaxy is at cinemas nationwide from 1 August; see the teaser trailer here