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Marvel Studios has a track record of picking unlikely directors for their giant tentpole projects, but they may have just outdone themselves. James Gunn, the indie filmmaker whose last movie was the dark anti-superhero movie Super, is apparently the studio's top choice to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, the upcoming space drama that's a key part of "phase two" of the studio's development.

Announced at Comic Con last month, Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release August 1, 2014, which gives them not a lot of time to put together a CGI-heavy film set in space that features a machine-gun-wielding raccoon as one of its characters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel is considering several other unlikely choices if talks with Gunn don't work out-- they're also eyeing Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the indie filmmakers behind projects like Half-Nelson and It's Kind Of A Funny Story, and Peyton Reed, most famous for directing Bring It On. If they had simply thrown darts at a board covered with every director currently alive, I don't think they could have come up with a more seemingly random list.

But that's kind of the magic of the Marvel films so far, which have brought in unlikely choices-- like Kenneth Branagh for Thor, or especially Joss Whedon for The Avengers-- and made them pay off in spadea. Marvel is also famous for refusing to pay top dollar for talent, and Gunn-- whose debut film Slither made $7.8 million total, and whose Super topped out at $327,716 theatrically-- surely can't demand a giant paycheck. We'll see if talks pan out, but Gunn's participation could take Guardians of the Galaxy from what looked like an oddball also-ran Marvel movie to something potentially fascinating, dark and unlike anything else they've made.

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