It goes without saying that this post contains numerous possible spoilers.
As the headline and teaser indicate, this post is going to contain numerous potential Guardians of the Galaxy spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, stop reading this post now. No seriously, close the tab.
Ready? Spoilers in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1
NOTE: The second section of this article has been updated - see below for details.
With little more than a month to go before the August 1 US release of Guardians of the Galaxy and several high profile conventions happening between now and then (including San Diego Comic Con), it's unsurprising that spoilers galore are beginning to spill out. Today we have not only detailed descriptions of key scenes from the film, but also news that a key Ally of the Guardians will be making a brief appearance. First, let's talk broader details about the film.
Marvel and Disney are beginning to show off more and more footage from the film, not just in the form of new trailers, but in the form of extended footage. So it is that at Spain's annual CineEurope conference, the studio showed off an extended look at the upcoming movie. Total Film had someone in attendance, and they've brought back a detailed description of what the audience saw. (Via Comic Book Movie.) Here's an excerpt:
In the several clips shown (out of context, and occasionally with unfinished special effects), it was Chris Pratt's Peter 'Star-Lord' Quill who took centre stage. The first sequence was set in 1988, as an eight-year-old Quill storms from his house, following an argument with his parents. He's barely had a chance to fall on his knees and start weeping before he's taken away from the misty night by an alien spacecraft that suddenly blinks into view. The only possession he has with him? A backpack loaded with '80s memorabilia, including his Walkman.
Following that, we leap 26 years ahead to the abandoned planet of Morag, for a fuller look at the scene that been a key fixture of the trailers, as Quill (now in Chris Pratt form) is on the hunt for an orb to steal. Geysers pop and splutter, as rain lashes the dusty, red planet, home to the remains of a lost civilization, like ruins of a cosmic Rome. Quill uses what looks like a hi-tech torch to survey the area as it once was in an augmented-reality style. With his trademark helmet vanishing digitally at the touch of a button, Quill slips on his headphones to dance his way towards his prize. Puncturing the faux sci-fi seriousness of the set-up, it's a brilliant showcase for Pratt, who demonstrates his likeability further in his now infamous run-in with Djimon Hounsou's Korath. After making his jet-booted escape, Pratt's back in his ship, revealing a Captain Kirk-esque side when a red-skinned alien girl - who he'd forgotten was still there - appears from below decks.
The choreography of the whole sequence was impressive, not only in how it juggled the roles of the Guardians, but also the innovative action itself (particularly when a sneaky bit of hot-wiring by Rocket renders the prisons anti-gravity tech useless...) and the ever-present humour.
Following that escape sequence, we were also shown an excerpt from later scene, when Quill is being held captive on Yondu's (Michael Rooker) ship. Quill was brought up by Yondu's people, as evidenced in their red leather garb: the same type Quill was sporting at the beginning of the film. We didn't see enough of Rooker's performance to get a true sense of the character, but he looked awesome, with bright blue skin and a red mohawk. The scene took a sudden shift when Rocket appeared to 'save the day' in a particularly unsubtle manner, with some ridiculously heavyhanded negotiating tactics. His failed attempt at a rescue leads the entire group to be taken hostage. "I didn't have time to work out the minutiae of the plan," he grumbles.
This led to the final piece of footage we were shown, as the gang - looking at their seemingly hopeless fate - decide to stand up and do something to stop Ronan the Accuser and his nefarious plans (the villain, and details of his plan, were kept off-screen). It's Quill, evidently growing from the earlier scenes, who rouses the team to action with a stirring - but not saccharine - speech. While it could have been cheesy, Pratt's delivery, and the smartly scripted dialogue, kept it on the right side of emotive. And, as ever, Rocket's on hand to puncture any potential pomposity ("What the hell - I don't have that long a life span anyway...")
The writer goes on to compare what they saw to a bigger budget take on the dusty, worn-in aesthetic of Firefly, which, OK I'm sold. Meanwhile, it looks like we now also know what to expect once the credits roll on Guardians.
Latino Review is reporting that Nova, a frequent ally of Star-Lord, a noted enemy of Thanos, and the cosmic defender of Earth, is (probably) going to appear in the post-credits stinger. Cue much cheering. "But wait," I can hear you asking, "who the hell is Nova?" Good question, straw reader I just made up. Nova is, well, there's no way to sugarcoat this: Nova is Marvel's totally original character that in no way should remind you of a DC universe character that predates him by several decades.
The character, a human named Richard Rider, first debuted in Marvel Comics back in 1976. A member of The Nova Corps, an intergalactic military/police peacekeeping force, Rider was inducted into the group when he came upon Rhomann Dey, a Xandarian Nova officer who happened to lay dying on Earth. Dey chose Rider at random, infusing him with "The Nova Force", a source of superpowers to which Nova Corps members get increasing access as they rise through the organization's ranks. The Force grants members the power of flight, super strength, faster-than-light travel, the ability to create energy beams, open hyperspace gates, and other boons that come in very handy when battling powerful villains and hostile alien races on Earth or out in deep space. Rider is eventually appointed "Centurion Prime" (essentially a 3-star general) for the sector of space in which Earth is found.
What? No, this is nothing like Green Lantern. You know what? SHUT UP.
Anyway, Nova is a longstanding friend and ally of Star-Lord and as such, they two have teamed up more than once against Thanos. Most recently, the character was presumed dead after the events of The Thanos Imperative, though his ultimate fate has not been revealed. Having him appear in Guardians of the Galaxy makes a hell of a lot of sense, and I'm hoping, assuming that Guardians is the hit everyone is expecting, he'll be a major character in the sequel.
Latino Review is also speculating - without any confirmation, mind you - that Nathan Fillion will be cameoing as Nova in the stinger. This would indeed be incredibly awesome, though it must be noted again that this has not been confirmed. However, it would jibe with Fillion's coy comments a back in April that "[m]aybe you'll be surprised. Maybe. Check the credits." Personally, I'd love for this to happen, though I'm curious whether or not Nathan had to drop some of his hit TV series weight for the appearance.
UPDATE: This morning, James Gunn officially denied that Nathan Fillion will play Nova. Special thanks to commenter Elader for bringing this to our attention. That's somewhat of a bummer- and hell, there would have been a nice kind of symmetry, considering that Fillion previously voiced Green Lantern in a couple of DCAU movies - but it makes sense, considering Fillion definitely didn't visibly beef up or lean out during the last few episodes of Castle, the latest period when any such cameo could have been filmed.
We will note that Gunn does not deny Nova will appear in GOTG, so we'll take that report at face value. Meanwhile, Gunn also does not specifically deny that Fillion will have some kind of cameo. If Fillion wasn't just having fun with people back in April, I'm going to guess he has a blink and you'll miss it moment.
The stinger in question also supposedly includes Thanos, which is unsurprising, and this suggest that to me that the intent is to link Guardians to what is believed to be the plot of Avengers 3 as well as setup the plot of Guardians 2. But what about that report last March of spy photos purporting to be from Guardians, that showed several vehicles bearing old-school S.H.I.E.L.D. logos? Was that wrong or a hoax? Maybe, but it's worth noting that Latino Review explicitly refers to the Nova/Thanos scene as "post-credits". Several films in the MCU - The Avengers, Thor 2: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier - have included two stingers, one mid-credits and post-credits. I wouldn't be shocked by a mid-credits scene that ties Guardians more explicitly to the current state of the MCU.
We'll all find out in August of course. Until then, consider this post your official warning: from now until August, the Internet is a wilderness of Guardians spoilers. Click at your own risk.
Now, feel free to speculate wildly in comments.