As Marvel Studios move their franchises into “Phase Two” following this summer’s mega-hit The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK), there has been a lot of speculation as to what form the next element of their cinematic universe will take. It’s widely acknowledged that there is a spot in the schedule during 2014, with only Captain America 2 currently announced for that summer and the studio publicly stating a desire to make two new movies a year.

Evidence seems to be gathering that Guardians of the Galaxy will be that mystery movie and that Marvel are soon to announce that slightly obscure title as their newest movie franchise. Not only has producer Kevin Feige previously stated that such a movie is one of those projects actively in development, but the pages of a recent comic may offer a little more in the way of confirmation.

SPOILERS ahead, for both comic books and (potentially) The Avengers 2:

Avengers Assemble – issue #4 of which came out yesterday – is a new ongoing series released to coincide with the Avengers movie. It brings the current movie line-up together into a comic book team designed to lure new readers to the books, inspired by the movie – and with Hawkeye even sporting his dull as ditchwater movie costume.

Here’s the juicy bit: the fourth issue sensationally culminates in the Guardians of the Galaxy arriving on earth to team up with The Avengers against cosmic foe Thanos. In fact, as you can see above, they have made the cover for the next issue (#5) alongside Cap, Iron Man et al.

That would be innocuous enough a detail were it not for the fact that Thanos himself was revealed as the probable Avengers sequel villain by a post-credits sequence attached to this summer’s movie. It’s worth bearing in mind – for those doubting this book’s symbiotic relationship with the separate movie universe – that the arrival of Thanos in this series came about at the end of issue #3 – released mere days after everybody had seen him at the end of The Avengers, and no doubt timed that way.

Perhaps we’re connecting dots where there aren’t any, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if Marvel’s strategy here is to introduce new readers to the concept of this new team – and their potential team-up with Earth’s Mightiest against Thanos – as a lead-in to announcing a 2014 movie with these characters. Could we be about to hear an announcement about a Guardians of the Galaxy movie within the next few days?

Is that the ranting of a conspiracy theorist, or is there something in this? Let us know what you make of it below.

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This article was first posted on June 14, 2012