Marvel Studios seems to enjoy the game of Comic-Con each year.  True, they sat out last year's event in order to focus on D23, but the year before, their big end-of-the-panel reveal was when they brought all the members of The Avengers out on stage at the same time for the first time.  It was a big moment for Hall H, and it's the sort of thing studios try to create, a "moment" that really pops.

A few weeks ago, Latino Review reported that "Black Panther" is a priority title for Marvel Studios, and they theorized at that point that "Panther" might be the mystery 2014 title that the company hadn't announced yet.  Today, they are stating emphatically that "Guardians Of The Galaxy" will be the title that Marvel announces at Comic-Con, and if they're right, did they just steal Marvel's thunder?

If you're talking about risks for the studio, this would represent one of the biggest they've taken so far, and I'm excited to see them step outside the safety zone of the established name-brands they've been using so far.  After all, industry types were convinced that "Thor" was too obscure a name for the mainstream, and he's way more visible in the media landscape than "Guardians Of The Galaxy."

I love love love love the fact that the editor who Marvel trusted with building out their modern SF landscape is Bill Rosemann, who was a childhood friend of mine.  Bill was obsessed with comics the way I was obsessed with movies, and he always had a taste for the stranger corners of the Marvel Universe.  When he was working on the "Annihilation: Conquest" event for Marvel, he saw an opportunity to bring the Guardians back to the active roster for the company.  Knowing him back then, I can tell you that working on something like "Guardians" is one of those childhood-dreams-come true situations for him, and in particular, I love that he found a way to make Rocket Raccoon, a Bill Mantlo creation that Bill was hugely fond of back then, seem cool again and a part of the regular Marvel universe.

You can tell when something's starting to become a priority for Marvel because they'll use all of their media to start to introduce character.  My kids are familiar with Nova already, even though they have no idea where he came from.  They just think of him as a sort of Marvel Universe answer to Green Lantern, an intergalactic police officer with a uniform that gives him his powers.  They've seen him in an episode of "The Super Hero Squad Show" and they've got a little Marvel figure toy version of him as well. 

Most importantly, the Guardians have butted heads with Thanos in a major way, particularly in "The Thanos Imperative."  Since that tag at the end of "The Avengers" introduces Thanos visually, it's probably a safe bet that the reason Marvel wants to introduce the Guardians to the movie universe is so they can bring them into the fight when "The Avengers 2" finally rolls around.

Whatever the plans turn out to be, Marvel's going to be strolling into Comic-Con this year as the conquering hero, and it's a safe bet that their panel is going to be a ton of fun, as much of a celebration of success as a preview of things to come.  If it is indeed "Guardians of the Galaxy" they announce, then it looks like they've finally gotten too big for just one planet, and it's going to be fun to see them change the definition of what a "Marvel movie" really is.

Marvel's panel at Comic-Con will be in Hall H on Saturday.