After making 4 billion million dollars with The Avengers, Marvel's next big thing—the thing Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2 are all going to lead into—will be 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. While Chris Pratt is technically the star of Guardians, he isn't really, because c'mon—the film will also feature a talking raccoon with guns, and everyone knows that talking raccoons with guns steal every scene they're in, and a few others for good measure. SO. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THIS "ROCKET RACCOON"?

1. He'll look like this, according to a just-released piece of production art from director James Gunn:

2. Here's his back story, according to the always batshit-crazy Marvel comics universe:

Rocket is captain of the starship Rack 'n' Ruin, and he and his first mate Wal Russ (a talking walrus) come from the planet Halfworld, in the Keystone Quadrant, an abandoned colony for the mentally ill where the animal companions were genetically manipulated to grant them human level intelligence and bipedal body construction for many to become caretakers of the inmates. (Via.)

Part of me feels like Marvel might have bitten off more than they can chew with this one—other members of the Guardians team include a talking tree monster whose weakness is, naturally, termites—but considering how solid Marvel's (and Gunn's) movies have been so far, I'm mostly giving them the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, a talking raccoon with guns will 100 percent completely unavoidable next year, at which point both cinema and human culture will have reached their apex.