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What you need to know about Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

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A ragtag mob of superheroes band together in Marvel's forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. We tell you everything you need to know about the supercharged ensemble.

* The movie is, like Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, part of Phase Two of Marvel’s cinematic roll-out. Phase One included Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers Assemble, while Phase Three kicks off next year with Edgar Wright’s Ant Man.

* The seeds of Guardians of the Galaxy were sewn at the end of Thor: The Dark World last year. In a post-credits, we see the Asgardian warriors Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) delivering the deadly Aether (the weapon that caused so much trouble in that film) to a figure known as “the Collector”, played by Benicio Del Toro.

* The Guardians of the Galaxy team (albeit a different line-up) first appeared in 1969, with the current gang debuting in 2008. The movie’s line-up mostly consists of the 2008 comic team (Star-Lord, Gamora, Nova, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot), except for Yondu, who was brought in from the original comic.

* The movie is an ensemble piece, with a healthy mix of big-star names and fresher talents. Parks and Recreation actor Chris Pratt (who dropped 60 pounds) plays Guardians leader Peter Quill, with Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana as Gamora and The Hobbit’s Lee Pace as Ronan. Meanwhile Riddick’s Vin Diesel voices Groot and American Hustle star Bradley Cooper voices Rocket, a genetically engineered raccoon.

* Also starring as Nebula is Karen Gillan, in her first major role since leaving Doctor Who. “Well, I play a villain, so I’m just antagonising heroes,” says the actress, who shaved her head for the part. “Also, what’s different about Guardians is that everybody is a bad guy. It’s just good guys within the bad guys.”

* Guardians of the Galaxy looks set to be the most “out there” Marvel movie to date. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige promises “a big space epic”, while Joss Whedon says that director James Gunn has “a very twisted take on it”.

* Unfortunately Marvel icon Stan Lee won't be doing his usual cameo this time round. "That's the one group I didn't create," says the prolific 91-year-old creator of Spider-Man, Hulk and Iron Man, among numerous others.

Excited much? We certainly are. Guardians of the Galaxy arrives in Cineworld on 1 August.