Chris Pratt blasts off for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

It looks like Chris Pratt is trading "Parks and Recreation" for outer space and superheroics.

After an extensive search by Marvel Studios and director James Gunn, Pratt is nearly confirmed to be playing the human (-ish) lead role in "Guardians of the Galaxy," easily the strangest offering of Marvel's Phase Two, their post-"Avengers" series of films.

Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt

Pratt will be playing Peter Quill, an astronaut who's reinvented as Star-Lord when he teams up with a group of strange characters from another time and dimension, including Drax the Destroyer, a slain human resurrected as a green warrior with the sole purpose of killing Thanos (the mystery character in the penultimate scene of "The Avengers"); Groot, a giant walking, talking tree (kind of like an Ent!); Rocket Raccoon, a genetically engineered animal with a love for loud weapons; and Gamora, the sole surviving member of the Zen Whoberi whose assassin abilities have earned her the title of The Deadliest Woman in the Universe.

Quill ending up with these Guardians of the Galaxy is part of his destiny, as he's actually the offspring of a human mother and alien father. Which is weird but not quite as weird as a talking raccoon that likes guns and explosives.

Chris Pratt, who recently had serious turns in both "Moneyball" and "Zero Dark Thirty," was chosen for the role over Jim Sturgess, Zachary Levi, John Krasinski and Michael Rosenbaum, who all met and/or tested for the part. The role was originally offered to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who turned it down for other projects, including Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." Pratt most recently appeared in in a segment of the comedy anthology film, "Movie 43," in which his real-life wife Anna Faris requested that he defecate on her ("Guardians" director Gunn also worked on the critically-reviled flop).

So yeah, "Guardians of the Galaxy" is strange. It's also the movie that Marvel thought they could sell better than a "Black Panther" film, so we'll have to see if its bizarre comic book-ness can be reined in and packaged for summer movie audiences who like their Marvel movies to have funny Robert Downey Jr. quips.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" will hit theaters on August 1, 2014, making it the last Phase Two outing before "The Avengers 2" hits in May 2015.

See this featurette about Chris Pratt from 'Zero Dark Thirty':