When you’re hot, you’re hot and Marvel Studios is red hot with an unprecedented streak of box office hits (12 opening weekend winners and counting), but the embarrassment of riches goes beyond money. It’s also extended to casting. Whether it’s Anthony Hopkins in THOR, Robert Redford in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, or Glenn Close in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Marvel has been able to attract onscreen legends to bolster its films. Now the studio has arguably made its coolest addition yet, Kurt Russell in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

It’s been rumored for months, but Marvel confirmed the casting today in a press release to mark the start of principal photography at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. No character name is listed for Russell, but smart money has him playing Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a.k.a. Star-Lord’s father.

There’s also the possibility that Russell isn’t playing Peter Quill’s father. He could be the villain, or he could be both. But unraveling “the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage” is the only note about the plot in the press release and Russell as the father of Pratt’s Quill just seems like the perfect fit from the outside looking in, so it’s the best guess.

Keep in mind, however, that writer and director James Gunn has already said on many occasions that Quill’s father in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not the same character as his father from the comics, J’Son of Spartax. Russell will be playing someone else, which could be pulled from just about anywhere in Marvel’s cosmos, or even an original character.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 reunites Gunn and Pratt with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, and Vin Diesel as the voice of a still miniaturized Groot, among others. Though absent from the press release, Gunn has confirmed that Glenn Close will also return as Nova Prime. They are joined by Russell and other notable newcomers including Pom Klementieff (OLDBOY), Elizabeth Debicki (THE GREAT GATSBY), and Chris Sullivan (THE KNICK). The press release didn’t provide any character names, but Gunn took to Twitter to confirm Klementieff is playing Mantis.

mantis

Gunn has previously teased new additions to the actual Guardians team and now we know at least one for sure. Mantis is an intriguing addition, as a character with strong comic book ties to both the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers. Created by Don Heck and Steve Englehart, Mantis’ abilities have traditionally involved telepathy, sometimes with both flora and fauna. She’s even been able to transfer herself into plant life. There’s no telling if that ability will show up in the MCU, but it could make for an interesting team-up moment with Groot.

In the comics, Mantis was born on Earth and became an Avenger before eventually helping Peter Quill form the version of the Guardians of the Galaxy that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning used in their famed 2008 run. Those issues remain the biggest source material influence on the movie franchise. Obviously, Mantis has no history as a member of the Avengers in the MCU and it remains to be seen where exactly she will have originated, but it may not be Earth.

Gunn has previously told fans not to expect GOTG VOL. 2 to tie directly into AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. He’s even suggested that Infinity Stones and Thanos may not factor in at all, but if there’s at least some loose connection between the adventures of the Guardians in space and the Avengers on Earth, it could come from Mantis. Her telepathic abilities could allow her to become aware of larger dangers throughout the universe, which could point back to Earth. That’s not a prediction, just a little speculation on my part and probably wrong.

And I’ve painfully ignored the biggest question concerning the movie. What about the music? No answers there. Awesome Mix Vol. 2 does not have a track list yet and Gunn has not been dropping hints. Going by the new logo design, the font for “VOL. 2” has a very strong 1980s vibe akin to famous 80s action sequels like BEVERLY HILLS COP 2 and LETHAL WEAPON 2. Perhaps Meredith Quill wanted to move her son’s music appreciation forward from the 1970s hits of the first volume. Or it’s just a cooling-looking logo and has nothing to do with the music selection.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 will be released on May 5, 2017. For more details, including all of the announced cast and crew, see the entire press release below.

 

Principal Photography Begins in Atlanta for May 5, 2017 Release

ATLANTA, Ga. (February 17, 2016) – Marvel Studios has begun principal photography at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which is slated to hit U.S. theaters on May 5, 2017. The production will shoot at Atlanta’s Pinewood Studios.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is written and directed by James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Slither”). The film marks the return of the original Guardians, including Chris Pratt (“Jurassic World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) as Peter Quill/Star-Lord;  Zoe Saldana (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”) as Gamora; Dave Bautista (“Spectre,”  “Guardians of the Galaxy”) as Drax; Vin Diesel (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Furious 7”) as the voice of Groot; Bradley Cooper (“Joy,” “American Sniper”) as the voice of Rocket;  Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Jumper”) as Yondu; Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Big Short”) as Nebula; and Sean Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Gilmore Girls”) as Kraglin. New cast members include Pom Klementieff (“Oldboy”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby,” “Everest”), Chris Sullivan (“The Knick,” “The Drop”) and Kurt Russell (“The Hateful Eight,” “Furious 7”). 

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is produced by Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nik Korda and Stan Lee serving as executive producers.

Director James Gunn’s creative team also includes director of photography Henry Braham (“The Legend of Tarzan,” “The Golden Compass”); production designer Scott Chambliss (“Star Trek,” “Tomorrowland”); editors Fred Raskin (“The Hateful Eight,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Craig Wood (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”); composer Tyler Bates (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “John Wick”); three time Oscar®-nominated costume designer Judianna Makovsky (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”); Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Chris Townsend (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3”); stunt coordinator Tommy Harper (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ); co-producer / first assistant director Lars Winther (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”); and six-time Oscar® nominee, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick (“Captain America: Civil War,”  “The Avengers”). 

The original “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a hit with critics and audiences alike, earning over $770 million at the worldwide box-office, and holds the record as the most successful debut film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition, the film’s soundtrack went platinum and was nominated for a Grammy®.

Based on the Marvel comic characters first published in 1969, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ” continues the lineage of epic big-screen adventures chronicled in “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man,” and the upcoming release schedule, which includes  “Captain America: Civil War” on May 6, 2016; “Doctor Strange,” November 4, 2016; “Spider-Man,” July 7, 2017; and “Thor: Ragnarok” on November 3, 2017.  

Marvel Studios continued its unprecedented success in 2015 with the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” At the time of release, the film recorded the second biggest opening weekend of all time with a $191.3 million box office. It has also been the #1 release in every country where it has opened and has grossed over $1.4 billion in global box office. The studio also successfully launched another franchise with “Ant-Man,” starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly. The film opened #1 at the box office on July 17 and went on to gross more than $519 million at the worldwide box office. The film propelled the Marvel brands’ #1 domestic box-office opening streak to a record-breaking 12 consecutive films.