Marvel Studios has cast actor Chris Pratt in the lead role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that's to launch the next phase of Marvel's Cinematic Universe following the success of The Avengers. Best known as the kind hearted but dangerously inept Andy Dwyer on the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation and for roles in Zero Dark Thirty and Moneyball, Pratt is an unexpected but very intriguing choice for a space-faring superhero.Created in the 1970s by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, Peter Quill was a NASA astronaut who for reasons becomes Star-Lord, leader of a group of diverse aliens who, as you might expect, endeavor to guard the galaxy from various threats. The character, who is half-human and half-alien, returned to prominence in the last decade in a series of titles written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, including the Guardians of the Galaxy series that teamed Star-Lord with Rocket Raccoon, Bug, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Groot, and inspired the Marvel Studios film. A new Guardians series is launching this year with writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve McNiven.

According to Deadline, Marvel was also considering Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess, Lee Pace, Eddie Redmayne, Zachary Levi and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the role. Pratt's acclaimed turn as an at once credible and affable US Navy SEAL in the terrorism thriller Zero Dark Thirty would seem to have opened the door to this role in Guardians. The film is directed by comedic filmmaker James Gunn, whose casting of Pratt in the lead role is a likely indicator of the kind of offbeat tone we can expect from the film.

Abnett & Lanning's Guardians of the Galaxy seems to no longer be available in print, but you can catch up on the whole series digitally via ComiXology.