The Guardians are a crack team of intergalactic superheroes who defend the universe from the kind of threats that would leave Spider-Man cacking his red and blues.
I've talked at length about this series before but I'll save you the extra clicking and just run through it here:
The original Guardians series was set in the 31st Century of an alternate dimension to our own, which starred Vance Astro, a 20th Century astronaut falling out of time and forming a team with an array of super-powered aliens. Good money would say this character would serve as an audience's gateway into the weirder aspects of this cosmic story.
The series was later relaunched in 2008 as a series within Marvel's traditional continuity (known as Earth 616 to us dweebs), which also featured Astro, this time falling out of space itself into an entirely different universe. He helps form a new team of Guardians. When the story is officially confirmed, expect a Cheat Sheet feature to prepare you.
Given the confusing nature of the comic book's back story, I would expect a simplified amalgamation of the two continuities but you can be sure that it will lean closer to the 2008 relaunch than the original '60s/'70s run.
Why? Well, apparently Thanos appears heavily in the script. Thanos being the 'big and ugly' that appears at the end of The Avengers, the secret mastermind behind the entire attack on Earth. He will be making his first major appearance in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, setting the stage for The Avengers 2.
During their (admittedly short-lived) relaunch, the Guardians have clashed with the Mad Titan in some pretty huge crossover events. When the "Marvel Cosmos" is involved in a story, the scale is never modest, we're talking God-like beings and entire star systems placed in peril. It's bold, ambitious stuff to do in a movie but Marvel look set to do just that.
The modern Guardians roster counts Adam Warlock and Drax the Destroyer among their numbers, both characters have a major history with Thanos and play significant roles in The Infinity Gauntlet serial (particularly Warlock, who is essentially the lead), which is likely to be the basis for The Avengers 2 script.
Fans should also expect an appearance by Nova. The insanely powerful Marvel Comics equivalent of Green Lantern is not traditionally a Guardian but is a prominent figure in the Marvel Universe. Nova has made a resurgence of late, in Disney's Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon and Marvel Comics’ Avengers vs X-Men crossover event. This could be Marvel laying down the groundwork for a movie appearance. A similar rumour emerged a few weeks prior, that Disney were scrapping their current Avengers cartoon to launch a movie-centric version that would heavily feature Thanos, to prepare younger audiences for the villain.
The Hollywood Reporter later stepped in to confirm this story and state that Nicole Perlman's script is apparently great (following closely to The Avengers in terms of tone) and a major factor in Marvel's decision to go with Guardians over some of the other possibilities.
This leaves just one more Marvel movie to play and rumours have it that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man is the favourite to take that sought after second spot (to be released the same year as The Avengers 2), which would leave the likes of Black Panther and Doctor Strange sitting on the benches.
All will be confirmed during the Marvel Studios panel on July 14th.