<b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b> has continued its domination of 2014's summer box-office. Though it fell short behind this week's debut of Michael Bay's <i>TMNT</i> reboot, it held strong at number two, continuing the strongest trend of any blockbuster film this year. With a sequel already announced at SDCC - before the first film even debuted - and director James Gunn publicly discussing that he is already hard at work on the sequel, fans have begun speculating, in earnest, which <b>GotG</b> characters might make the cut to be added to the cast. <p>James Gunn also recently professed his love for the off-beat and colorful cast of the <b>Guardians</b> comics, saying, “I love so many - can't give it away but there should be at least one more Guardian from the comics" in the sequel. So, without further ado, here are Newsarama's picks, ranked from least to most likely, for characters to appear in <b>Guardians of the Galaxy 2</b>!
<p>As hard as it is to believe that a raccoon and a tree could be this year's breakout movie stars, the fact remains that Rocket and Groot have become household names thanks to their portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy. While it may be trying to make lightning strike twice, the acerbic, quirky Bug could be GotG 2's next attempt at making an unlikely character a fan favorite. <p>In fact, director James Gunn actually revealed in a Q&A that Bug appeared in one draft of the script before the roster was trimmed. While that may mean it was decided he wouldn't work as intended on film, the former Micronaut may still be up for grabs when the sequel rolls around.
<p>It seems unlikely that Marvel would turn to any other Kree-powered cosmic heroine before Carol Danvers, but considering Phyla-Vell (AKA Quasar, AKA Martyr) has strong ties to the Guardians, and a history as rich and full of cosmic connections as any Marvel character, there's always a chance that she could show up, even in a slightly altered form. <p>Phyla-Vell is, of course, the daughter of Captain Mar-Vell, and brother of his successor Genis-Vell. She inherited the Quasar mantle after taking control of the Quantum Bands that were once used by the original Quasar, as well as her father and brother. It seems likely that, were she to appear, some of that history would have to be consolidated. Still, Phyla-Vell does represent the culmination of an entire dynasty of Marvel's cosmic heroes. <p>Her inclusion would, incidentally also allow Marvel Studios' first openly homosexual relationship between two heroes on the big screen, if another one further up our list was included, too...
<p>As a character, Angela has a pretty interesting history. Created by Neil Gaiman for a Spawn story he wrote, Angela quickly became an important part of the Spawn mythos. Several years ago, Gaiman won a lawsuit over his rights as the character's creator, allowing him to sell her character rights to Marvel comics, where she has since appeared in the current Guardians of the Galaxy series. <p>Despite her strange legal history, Angela has become a key player in the Guardians' current adventures, often pairing up with Gamora to hilariously violent result. Even with her baggage, Angela could be an easy addition to the sequel's cast - after all, who wouldn't want to see a couple of killer ladies tearing up the galaxy together?
<p>A version of Vance Astrovik - AKA Justice - from a timeline where he became an astronaut and journeyed to the future, Major Victory was one of the stalwarts of the original Guardians in the 31st century. Though his alternate timelines make him something of a confusing character, there are a few constants that make him a strong possible contender for a film appearance. <p>For one thing, he's been a member of both the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Star-Lord lead version that the movie is based around. Furthermore, he carries Captain America's shield, an ancient artifact in his time, and even brings it with him when he journeys into the past. That could set up some pretty interesting situations should the Guardians crossover with the Avengers.
<p>Known as the Celestial Madonna, Mantis is a powerful telepath, and a former member of both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Though her comic history is fraught with complicated cosmic time travel conceits, that could work to her advantage as a candidate for a GotG sequel. <p>Mantis's importance to the Marvel's cosmic stories has waned in recent years, though she was a member of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy, and has appeared in their most recent series. She also has ties to the Kree, and to Kang the Conqueror, a possible villain for a Guardians sequel.
<p>It's looking more and more like <i>Avengers 2</i> could be Robert Downey, Jr's last hurrah as Iron Man, but that doesn't mean Tony Stark will be absent from the MCU. Fans of the comics will know that, with Brian Bendis's most recent Guardians comic, Tony Stark became a member of the team after leaving Earth for a while to take some time away from his problems. <p>Could the same eventuality be possible on film? We know that Tony holds himself responsible - at least partially - for the destruction Ultron causes in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, and rumor holds that the Avengers may look markedly different by the end of the film. Could Tony Stark take a leave of absence to sojourn among the stars? It could be a way to bring the two teams together for the inevitable throwdown with Thanos.
<p>Moondragon may not be a particularly well known character, but her ties to the Guardians of the Galaxy - both onscreen, and off - are numerous and strong. In comics, Moondragon is a human girl whose family is killed by Thanos. Soon after, she discovers her father's spirit has been resurrected, becoming none other than Drax the Destroyer, while she herself is taken to Thanos's home, Titan, and raised by monks to become a powerful telepathic warrior. <p>While that may be a bit convoluted for film, it's already been established that the film version of Drax had a family, who were killed by Ronan, acting under Thanos's guidance. It's also been established that Thanos has a strong penchant for taking orphaned girls under his wing and training them to be living weapons. While this might make Moondragon a bit redundant, given Gamora's onscreen history, the ties are still strong enough that some version of Moondragon could show up onscreen.
<p>A favorite for fans of Marvel's cosmic wing, Adam Warlock has been called out as one of the most likey additions to the cast by hopeful fans and pros alike. Kevin Feige, the spearhead of Marvel's film division, confirmed that he was a possible candidate for the Guardians sequel. In fact, a cocoon that strongly resembles the one from which Adam Warlock initially spawned. <p>Considering that he has traditionally possessed one of the Infinity Stones, and been an arch-enemy of Thanos, Warlock will almost inevitably appear in some form during the MCU's cosmic saga. The bigger question seems to be how closely he will resemble Jim Starlin's cosmic messiah version of the character, and how much of his story will come from the classic Infinity Gauntlet story that brought him, and Thanos, to prominence in Marvel comics.
<p>With concept art for Nova from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy art book recently leaked online, and the presence of a version of Xandar and the Nova Corps in the GotG film, it seems like a no-brainer that some solo version of Nova will show up somewhere in the Marvel MCU. But will it be as part of the Guardians? <p>Given the fate of much of the Nova Corps in the film, and the prominence of Glenn Close's Nova Prime in the larger cosmic wing of the MCU, it seems likely that Nova will appear when Thanos becomes the film universe's main threat. Whether he pops up in a GotG sequel or not, Nova is almost a lock for an upcoming Marvel film.
<p>Carol Danvers may be a particularly recent addition to the Guardians in the comics, but her cosmic history is undeniable. With the Kree empire debuting in the MCU, paving the way for Captain Marvel's origin to be told onscreen, and the near constant questions from fans about when Carol will appear in a film, it's only a matter of time before she shows up. <p>While many fans are clamoring for a solo film debut, it is likely that Captain Marvel will be rolled out in a team film first. Though the likelihood might seem to be that she will appear in an Avengers film, she may be best used the other way, providing connective tissue between the Avengers and the larger cosmic realm of the MCU.