Vin Diesel has been playfully hinting at a collaboration with Marvel Studios for the last few months, posting tantalizing images on his Facebook page and promising “big news” at a Comic-Con panel. Since the Fast & Furious star has a voice that sounds like deathscream of a cyborg Tyrannosaur echoing through the cosmos, rumors circulated that he was voicing pretty much every conceivable CGI character in Marvel’s Phase 2: Thanos, Ultron, Vision, even Rocket Raccoon. Lately, conventional wisdom held that Diesel would probably be voicing Groot — a noble galactic warrior/tree — in Guardians of the Galaxy. But that seemed to run counter to remarks Diesel told us at Comic-Con about working with Marvel on “a different kind of love story.”
EW caught up with Diesel (currently on a Riddick press tour), and the actor clarified that he initially met with Marvel Studios about a wholly original project. “Marvel is creating a fresh IP that they would like to partner with for a 2017 release,” he explained. But all the online rumormongering caused by Diesel’s statements on Facebook and at Comic-Con led to an entirely new collaboration. “I guess the internet went a little crazy in a great way. And Marvel Studios came back and said: ‘In spite of the fact that we’re so excited about generating a fresh IP, we have a character that could satisfy all the Marvel fans and all of your fans that want to see us collaborate on something immediately.’ And they sent over something interesting.”
When asked whether that “something interesting” could involve playing some sort of living tree, Diesel laughed and responded: “Come on, man!” But he didn’t say no. (The same day, Diesel told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s not officially onboard with the Marvel project, saying, “It’s just up to my reps to allow that to happen.”)
Connecting the dots here, it would appear that Marvel was in the early planning stages of a Phase 3 project that could be an entirely original property, but when the Diesel/Marvel hubbub started, they decided to get Diesel involved in an upcoming film as quickly and painlessly as possible. Although it’s still not confirmed, all signs still point to Groot: Although he’s a lead character in Guardians of the Galaxy, he doesn’t actually say very much. (Actually, the Diesel recording session for Guardians of the Galaxy will feasibly just be Vin Diesel in a recording studio for three hours saying the phrase “I am Groot!” ten thousand different ways — which, tell me that wouldn’t be the best DVD special feature ever.) Basically, the internet had a beautiful dream about Vin Diesel appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy, and now that might actually happen — surely the most important thing the internet has ever done, next to “Chocolate Rain.”
But what could this “new IP” be? A 2017 release date would be deep into Marvel’s post-Avengers 2 Phase 3, which is already rumored to include a Dr. Strange movie. If it is, in fact, an entirely new, non-comic-book property, that indicates that Marvel is looking to expand beyond their stable of Marvel universe characters. All we know about it right now is that is’ “a different kind of love story.” (I’m betting on robots.)
Or maybe this is just a double-blind, and Vin Diesel is playing Black Bolt in 2017’s Inhumans, directed by Nicolas Windin Refn and costarring Jessica Chastain as Medusa. RUMOR RUMOR RUMOR.