Who's He Playing?

Marvel Studios is not messing around when it comes to <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b>. Though it seemed to be an unlikely prospect at first, James Gunn's film has become loaded with major actors of both the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite variety, most recently Glenn Close, <i>Doctor Who</i>'s Karen Gillan, and, as reported on Monday, Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro. <p>One thing that all of those characters have in common: Their specific roles haven't yet been disclosed, which is especially puzzling in the case of del Toro, as he's been said by Deadline to be playing a "lead role;" one meant to stretch into multiple future films. <p>So, what character fits into what we know about <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b>, could be considered a lead and branch out to further movies, while also being deserving of an actor like del Toro? Here are our best guesses.

SILVER SURFER

The first entry on this list is a long-shot — but maybe not <i>that</i> long. <p> Yes, the live-action rights to Silver Surfer, a character originally introduced in <i>Fantastic Four</i> and long associated with the lore of Marvel's First Family, has been under Fox control for years now. In fact, Norrin Radd was such a major part of 2007's theatrical release <i>Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer</i> that his name was in the title. <p>Still, recently characters formerly out of Marvel Studios' reach have returned to their purview, including Blade, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Punisher. Last year, there were rumors that Fox and Disney were working on a deal where Marvel Studios could get the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus in exchange to Fox holding onto to Daredevil — that clearly didn't come to pass, but if true would indicate a strong interest in the Surfer on Marvel Studios' part. <p>And why wouldn't they be interested? They're launching a major movie franchise centered around their space-faring characters, and Silver Surfer is the most iconic cosmic hero in Marvel history, and one up to par with an actor of del Toro's stature. While it appears legally impossible at this point for del Toro to play Silver Surfer in <b>Guardians</b>, it would certainly seem to fulfill Deadline's billing of a "lead role" intended to be a part of multiple future films — and it's fun to think about, right? (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

RONAN THE ACCUSER

Ronan the Accuser was the subject of <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/17888-latest-guardians-villain-rumor-ronan-the-accuser.html>recent rumors about the movie's villain</a>, and thus makes the cut of the list here, though somewhat dubiously. <p>You see, Ronan is one of those characters who could arguably be included in an outside studio deal, as he first appeared in the <em>Fantastic Four</em> comic book, and thus might be tied to the rights at Fox to that property. However, in recent years, he's been known to associate with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos, and the Inhumans — all of which point right back at Marvel Studios. <p>Ronan being in the film could give the team a villain to face who later becomes an ally (though that's rumored to be Lee Pace's villain's plan), and would help introduce another alien race, the Kree to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bring in the Kree and you have more direct access to Captain Marvel (see: elsewhere on this list) and later Ms. Marvel, too. <p>As far as Del Toro's qualifications go, Ronan's defining traits are self-righteousness, determination, and an unfailing boldness — all things the actor can play in spades. (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

KANG THE CONQUEROR

Any way you slice it, time travel is hot right now, especially at Marvel Comics. With time travel as a major story point in <em>Age of Ultron</em>, <em>Uncanny Avengers</em>, and about 60 percent of major X-Men stories ever, now could be the time to bring in Kang the Conqueror. It doesn't hurt that the Guardians of the Galaxy name is used in the comics by two teams, including one from the far future which includes Yonshu, rumored to be Michael Rooker's role. <p>Del Toro as Kang gives the actor opportunity to play a villain who truly wants the future to be a better place — but also a place that he rules. With sly cockiness, Kang is sure he's going to win right until the very second he doesn't, and usually plans to just go back in time to try again. <p>It doesn't hurt the "future films" prospects, either, as Kang could reappear as himself, or as alter-egos Rama-Tut or Immortus, all still played by Del Toro. While Kang is plaguing the <em>Uncanny Avengers</em> now, his other recent comic book appearance was in none other than <em>Guardians of the Galaxy</em>, where he actually aided the team. (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

DOCTOR STRANGE

OK, this is a bit of a wild card, but Doctor Strange fits the situation like a glove in <i>some</i> respects. <p>The good doctor can certainly co-exist in a variety of potential Marvel films/genres. He’d be a welcome addition to the <i>Avengers</i>; would be mostly at home in a <i>Daredevil</i>, <i>Blade</i> or <i>Ghost Rider</i> reboot of any variety; Marvel has made it plain that Strange is a priority for them (including in potential solo film); and del Toro would be an inspired casting choice for Marvel’s enigmatic Master of the Mystic Arts. <p>And while you can’t be too judgmental about trying to establish a magic-based character in a movie featuring a talking Raccoon, a sentient tree, and various purple and green alien folk, shoehorning (even briefly) an <i>Earth-bound</i> magical character in a film with an already crowded (and growing) cast of cosmic characters might be too much to ask. <p>If del Toro isn't playing Doctor Strange, that would leave our first choice for the big-screen Dr. Strange – Johnny Depp — in the running. But that’s a countdown for another evening. (<i>Michael Doran</i>.)

MAR-VELL

It’s sometimes easy to forget Captain Marvel has been dead (since 1982) for more than twice as long as he lived (1967-82), and his status as a character has almost certainly grown in his afterlife more than Marvel was ever able to establish while he was among the breathing. <p>But he’s become something of a symbol in the Marvel U, perhaps ranking only behind Captain America as the epitome of the dignified superhero. <p>del Toro’s quiet dignity, which he put on display to such profound effect in his Academy/Golden Globe/SAG (among others) award-winning role in 2000’s <i>Traffic</i> could certainly translate to perhaps a mentor role for Chris Pratt’s Star Lord. And if Marvel is eventually going to full-on bridge the cosmic and Earth-bound spheres of the <b>Guardians</b> and the <i>Avengers</i>, del Toro certainly possesses the gravitas to help establish the connection. (<i>Michael Doran</i>.)

ADAM WARLOCK

Adam Warlock was an integral part of major Marvel cosmic stories like <i>Infinity Gauntlet</i>, as well as the 2008 <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> series that inspired the film in question. He also has been mostly off the board the past couple of years in Marvel's comics, and given the amount of attention Marvel is paying to its cosmic characters, he likely won't stay that way for long. <p>And what would be a bigger comeback than being played on-screen by a respected, Oscar-winning actor like del Toro? As an artificial human, Warlock is a complicated and often inscrutable dude, dealing with a lot of complex issues — which sounds like a good start to a juicy role. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

BLACK BOLT (OR MAXIMUS)

We know Marvel Studios wants to bring the Inhumans into the equation in the near future, and we even suggested them as a possibility to replace mutants and <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/17909-5-ways-quicksilver-can-appear-in-both-avengers-2-and-x-men.html>help usher in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch</a>. <p>Who better to start with than the leader, the silent king, Black Bolt? <p>Of course there's where it gets a bit tricky. You see, Black Bolt can't speak — if he makes the slightest sound, a powerful blast is emitted along with it that can destroy cities or even planetary bodies. However, with del Toro's intensely expressive face, he may be just the man for the difficult job. Black Bolt is also closely associated with the "cosmic" corners of the Marvel Universe as well as the earth-bound heroes, giving us a direct link between <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b> and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He also has recent links to Thanos and the Infinity Gems, which, one way or another, are going to come back into play in the MCU. <p>Failing Black Bolt, but still wanting to introduce the Inhumans, we'd look to his younger brother Maximus. One of the most villainous members of the Inhuman race, he has close ties to many alien races, Quicksilver, and the Avengers, and his telepathic power set is one sorely missing from the MCU (but a mainstay in the X-Men films, so easy to explain to moviegoers). (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

THE COLLECTOR

Since April, there have been reports that The Collector — a character dating back to 1966's Avengers #28</i> — would play a role in <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b>, stemming from The Hollywood Reporter describing Ophelia Lovibond's role as "an aide to a near-immortal being called The Collector," before editing their article to remove specific mention of the villain. <p>If that initial report holds true, <i>someone</i> would need to play The Collector, and getting an actor the caliber of del Toro to play a major villain role in <b>Guardians</b> would for sure be a coup. <p>Does The Collector have multi-film potential? Maybe not by himself, but given his long history in the comics with Thanos — who Marvel clearly has significant plans for — he could indeed fit into the big picture. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

NOVA

When <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/17948-report-glenn-close-cast-in-guardians-of-the-galaxy.html>Glen Close was reportedly cast in <b>Guardians</b> last week</a>, her nebulous (sorry) role was reported as being a leadership position in the Nova Corps. Well, you can't have a Nova Corps without some dang Novas, now can you? <p>While Del Toro, at 46, seems a bit old for a Richard Rider, traditionally the comics' most prominent Nova, his charisma and the same determination he'd need for some of the villainous characters on this list would serve him well as Rider. <p>And of course, it is the Nova <i>Corps</i>, so there's the possibility of him taking up a different role, maybe even that of current Earth Nova Sam Alexander's father, himself a former Nova, opening the film universe up to the younger Alexander in the future. (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

THANOS

While it remains to be seen if Big Purp’s mid-credit teaser scene in the <i>Avengers</i> was setting him up for the major villain role in <b>Guardians</b>, the <i>Avengers 2</i>, or hell, even <i>Avengers 3</i>, it would be awfully conspicuous to have a full-on Marvel Universe sci-fi space adventure and not see Thanos in some fashion or another. <p>Thanos having a smaller, more behind-the-scenes role (again) this time around would fit the mold of a character "built to be part of future Marvel films,” as <i>Deadline</i> put it. And given the unknown-quantity/absolute risk <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b> is for Marvel/Disney, limiting his screen-time would preserve his status for future <i>Avengers</i> films if audiences don’t go for this relatively obscure corner of the Marvel U. <p>Beside, no less than Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan <i>and/or</i> Ophelia Lovibond are already slated for villainous roles, and there are only so many black hats to go around per film. <p>So briefly establishing del Toro’s voice/facial expressions for what we’re assuming will be a Hulk/Gollum-like motion-capture performance, setting him up for bigger things in future <i>Avengers</i> installments seems like the odds-on mostly likely scenario here. (<i>Michael Doran</i>.)

del Toro's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Role: 10 Possibilities

Date: 03 June 2013 Time: 08:27 PM ET