It’s a good thing Marvel is taking their next franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, off planet Earth and into the farthest reaches of the universe, because they’re packing it with a ton of stars.
The latest name added is Oscar-winning actor Benicio Del Toro, an actor who occasionally steps into the tentpole world but is rarely traditional in his choices. According to Deadline, the Wolfman, Che, and Traffic star is joining James Gunn’s sci-fi epic in an unspecified role. He’ll join leading man Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, John C. Reilly, and the recently-added Glenn Close and Karen Gillan.
The comic book follows a ragtag team of intergalactic heroes, led by half-Earthing Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and featuring members like Gamora, a green alien warrior to be played by Saldana, and an anthropomorphic racoon named Rocket. It’s going to be a weird one.
Where does Del Toro fit in? Reports mention that the actor has signed a multi-film contract, meaning he has to be a big enough character that could either stand alone in his own films or return in one of Marvel’s other planned features. Del Toro would be a daring pick for Vance Astro, a mysterious, blue humanoid figure with ties to Captain America. Or more likely, he could step in as an overarching villain. Del Toro has a sinister side to him — he’s downright evil in Savages and was rumored to be J.J. Abrams’ original pick for Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness — and he’d be a great fit for the teased menace of Thanos. With a contract that brings him back for more Marvel films, the actor could be brought back as the adversary in Avengers 2.
There are a number of reasons why Marvel rapidly grew into a behemoth movie-making machine with resources that were long considered niche. Yes, they did an expert job planting seeds into the Iron Man franchise and finding an accessible foundation to each of their superheroic characters. But none of it would work without Marvel’s true dark art: casting. Marvel finds a balance between star power and character actor prowess — with Del Toro they get both, continuing a trend that should help Guardians of the Galaxy overcome obscurity to be a huge 2014 hit.
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