Ahhhhh. That's right. Several people dropped that name today. Thanos, who you'll remember is the guy we see turning around in the last few moments of "The Avengers," is somewhere way out there in deep space on the far side of a wormhole. And it sounds like we're going to see a story set in that part of space specifically, which starts to tie this series in to the larger Marvel universe.

By far, my favorite moment of the panel was when they finally got to Karen Gillan. When I say she's my favorite companion for "Dr. Who," it's not because she's cute. It's because I think the role they wrote for her was fascinating, with one of the great introductory arcs in the show's history, and Gillan sold it. She made Amy Pond into this bruised, vulnerable girl who became exactly what the Doctor needs at a moment when he really, really needs it. She got to build a very complex and sad and sweet character over a few seasons, and I think she got better as the show went. I'm thrilled to see her introduced into the Marvel universe, and Hardwick asked her a specific question about Nebula. "Isn't she bald in the comics?"

Gillan smiled, and immediately, as soon as I really looked at her hair, it was evident what was coming. I didn't really register it before, but it was a blatant wig. "Well," she said as she reached up, "I might have done something."

She slipped the wig off, revealing her freshly shaved head. She has just a wee bit of scalp fuzz right now, but she's bald. And it's great. Not everyone has the right skull to do that. I've seen some people shave their heads and it's an immediate regret. Gillan looked great, and she seemed amazed by it still. She made a show of throwing her wig into the crowd, and then immediately realized she shouldn't have done that. "Oh, wait, I need that! I have to get that back!" she said, and it took a moment, leading to Hardwick shuddering at the thought of that wig getting into the wrong hands.

Benicio Del Toro said he hasn't started shooting yet, so he was just meeting the rest of the cast here at Comic-Con. He talked about really liking the script when he read it and having a great phone call with Gunn about it.

And then finally, it was time to show the footage, and if this is what they have after 14 days of shooting, I'm blown away. There were finished effects in what we saw. It was a couple of pretty solid sequences. And the sense of humor, the timing and the energy… all evident, even in something this rough.

The footage opens with Star Lord (Pratt) on an alien planet. He finds some sort of ancient temple and enters it, looking for something specific. He finds a strange spherical thing on a stand and picks it up. As it comes to life, blue light pouring from it, a group of armed men enter the cave behind Star Lord. Korath (Hounsou) steps forward, gun up, and orders Star Lord to drop it. Pratt's more than happy to do so, not wanting to get shot.

"Who are you?" Korath asks.

I love how Pratt oversells it when he answers, "Star Lord."

"Who?"

The whole next scene shows Star Lord being processed as part of a line-up of some sort, and it's an excuse to introduce all of the Guardians in costume and in make-up and right away, it's just visually awesome. So much fun to look at. Such cool designs. It's John C. Reilly reading off the files on each of them, with Peter Serafinowicz playing off of him, and they've got a great rhythm going back and forth.

So we see Gamora, and it's a wild look for Saldana. Dave Bautista's Drax is mammoth and savage-looking. Groot, who appears to be completely CGI, is so tall that he has to lean in to look out at Rhomann Dey (Reilly). Reilly calls him "house-plant-slash-muscle," and I'm dying to see what a fight with Groot looks like.

And then the moment that I think is going to be a lightning bolt for pop culture. The introduction of Rocket Raccoon. Laugh if you want to, but that little sonofabitch is going to be the biggest thing next summer. They have to get the voice right, and I've heard all sorts of wild stories about the search for that voice so far. I'm shocked they didn't announce it today, but I guess that gives me a reason to go to D23 in a couple of weeks. They mention that his arrest record includes over 90 counts of vehicle theft. He just sits there and bristles at them, then sneezes, and it's effortless animation. He just looks like a pissed off little sentient raccoon.

The last one they name is Chris Pratt, and as they talk about Star Lord, he acts like he's turning an invisible crank, gradually extending his middle finger to them. When he finishes, he looks surprised by it and apologizes to them. "Oh, sorry, I don't really know how this machine works."

Reilly shakes his head, unimpressed. "They call themselves the Guardians Of The Galaxy."

Serafinowicz shakes his head, equally underwhelmed. "What a bunch of a-holes."

The rest of the reel was quick imagery, all cut to the song "Hooked On A Feeling." If you don't know it, it's one gloriously strange choice. We see vehicles and planetscapes and aliens galore, and there was one shot of Rocket Raccoon mid-attack that is so preposterously cool, filled with such attitude, that it is unfair. You can't show me a taste of something that crazy and not follow up with the main course. I want to see this movie more than either of the sequels at today's Marvel panel.

Sure… they might have shown us every cool thing today. The rest of the movie might not work. Anything can happen. But feeling this sort of excitement and optimism about something in production is why I do this in the first place. I love it when I see something that hooks me and it feels like something really wonderful and weird is going on. I hope this gamble turns out to be a good one for Marvel in the long run, because it felt like a home run today.

Want to see the just-released new piece of concept art for the film?

"Guardians Of The Galaxy" is in theaters August 1, 2014. That means we could see them at Comic-Con again next year. That would be awesome.

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