In recent weeks, a purported brief description, or logline, for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie has been circulated on industry websites, eventually making its way into mainstream news outlets and providing fans with their first glimpse at a possible plot for Marvel’s upcoming cosmic outing.
The logline describes the film as “About a U.S. pilot who ends up in space in the middle of a universal conflict and goes on the run with futuristic ex-cons who have something everyone wants.” The provenance of this logline must be taken with a grain of salt, however, particularly because the film has already undergone a change in screenwriters.
Nicole Perlman, an alumnus of Marvel Studios’ now-defunct screenwriters program, which launched in 2009 to recruit the next generation of writing talent for Marvel properties, was chosen to write the initial draft of the "Guardians" film, based on the strength of her script for a planned "Black Widow" movie (which also earned her a place on the "Thor" writing team), as well as her scripts for "Challenger," a film about the 1986 space shuttle disaster, and a Neil Armstrong biopic.
Although Perlman’s "Guardians" script was well-regarded internally at Marvel, as is common for big-budget films, another screenwriter, Chris McCoy was brought in to do a rewrite. McCoy does not yet have any filmed credits to his name, but he is known in Hollywood circles for the quirky, comedic tone of his writing (which could fit well with James Gunn’s sensibilities, as we discussed last week), as well as having three of his scripts appear on the Black List, an annual round-up of the best unproduced screenplays.
The change in writers leaves it an open question as to how much of Perlman’s script remains, and if the purported logline reflects either writers’ work, but assuming the logline is authentic, it provides some insight into the general direction Marvel Studios is looking to take the franchise. The “U.S. pilot” referred to has been assumed by many to be Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, the Guardians’ team leader, who in the comics is a former NASA astronaut, and has been featured in the concept art released for the film. Alternatively, it could refer to Major Vance Astro, the leader of the future version of the Guardians, who was also an astronaut, and later joined the team's modern day incarnation.
The “universal conflict” the logline mentions could connect with any number of cosmic conflagrations that have occurred within the Marvel Universe over the years, although members of the Guardians were most notably involved in Annihilation, a storyline involving the invasion of the Marvel Universe by the hordes of the monstrous ruler of the Negative Zone, Annihilus. That story relaunched Marvel’s cosmic characters, and led to the current incarnation of the Guardians, so it could be a natural element to include in the "Guardians" film, if not its central focus.
Describing the pilot as “on the run with futuristic ex-cons” also lends credence to the theory that it is Star-Lord being characterized, given the character’s reintroduction by writer Keith Giffen in 2004’s Thanos series, which found him incarcerated in a distant prison on the edge of the universe known as the Kyln, along with several other beings of cosmic power. Giffen followed up on the cosmic prison concept in 2005’s Drax The Destroyer miniseries, where Drax (who is also shown to be on the Guardians' film roster in the concept art) is being transported to the Kyln on a prison ship containing some of the universe’s deadliest miscreants. The logline’s focus on this “ex-con” aspect does suggest a shift from the concept of the Guardians’ team in the comics, where it is portrayed as a universal peace-keeping/quick reaction commando force.
Finally, the logline makes reference to a MacGuffin of some kind, “something everyone wants.” As with the conflict, this could be any number of important items that have popped up in the Marvel Universe over the years; the "Avengers" film brought us the Cosmic Cube, for example.
But if the rumors of Thanos’ involvement in the film are true, then you could lay good money on that “something” being the most powerful artifact in the Marvel Universe, and one which has already been cameoed in the "Thor" film: the Infinity Gauntlet. Comprised of the Infinity Gems, which hold total control over Time, Space, Reality, Mind, Soul, and Power, this ultimate weapon was wielded by Thanos in a bid for godhood, and has since changed hands (no pun intended) many times.
Could the Infinity Gauntlet be the item that drives the action in the "Guardians" film? Stay tuned.