BySean Gallen, writer at Creators.co
The pen is mightier than the sword but is ultimately useless in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Filmmaker, filmlover, MP staff writer.
Sean Gallen

Most people look into the night sky and see space as a cold, dark void. Not #LucBesson though; his vision of the cosmos is one of vivid color and life, a place where imaginations are allowed to run wild. When he released The Fifth Element back in '97, he captured the attention of a generation with his comic-influenced version of the future — and now, two decades on, he will make his grand return to the sci-fi genre.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets tells the story of two space-traveling, government peacekeepers, sent to the metropolis of Alpha that hosts over a thousand different species. Laureline (Cara Delevingne) must do her best to keep the headstrong playboy, Valerian (Dane DeHaan), on track as the duo are summoned to save Alpha from a powerful menace. This epic space adventure will hit screens in summer 2017 and will also star #Rihanna, Clive Owen and Ethan Hawke.

While we wait for the film's release, let's take a look at some of the insane trivia behind what's set to be one of the biggest sci-fi events of 2017.

1. The Trailer Had A Genius Marketing Campaign

Despite the movie's release being one year away, Valerian already has more buzz than lightyear — and that hype is partly down to Besson's wicked marketing campaign for the trailer drop. Over the last five days, handpicked nerdy outlets (The Nerdist, IGN, Mashable to name a few) have been drip-feeding juicy details via a series of exclusive interviews. On top of that, the movie's stars, Delevingne, Dehaan and Rihanna, took to social media to drop cryptic clues that reveal the date of the final trailer release. Pretty cool, huh?

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2. It's Complicated: Modern Romance For Space-Age Lovers

[Credit: Dargaud]
[Credit: Dargaud]

Although the titular duo — Valerian and Laureline — have a romantic history, they are not your conventional couple. In the comics, they have falling-outs, they see other people, they get back together — in other words, they're in a very modern relationship. In a recent interview, the French director described their union in a very French manner that suggests he believes in the expression, "opposites attract" :

"They have fun, they love each other, but they don't want to say it. He's a puppy — he's watching all the girls, and she's very old fashioned. For her, you fall in love with one man, you get married, you have kids."

3. Laureline Was Luc Besson's First Crush

[Credit: Dargaud]
[Credit: Dargaud]

The comic-book Laureline is a strong, independent woman, and her relationship with her intergalactic companion is too complicated for her to be considered merely a trophy-wife. Maybe this is why the 10-year-old Besson was pulled in by her gravitational force like a planet to a sun. Besson confessed his long-burning love for Laureline to Collider, giving new meaning to the term 'passion project':

“The first woman I fell in love with was probably Laureline. She was totally free and badass and it was a very modern heroine at the time and I was totally in love with her."

4. The Original Comics Offer Enough Material For A Trilogy

Dane DeHaan as Valerian / Europacorp
Dane DeHaan as Valerian / Europacorp

The original comic series was created by Pierre Christin and drawn by bande-dessinée legend, Jean-Claude Mézières, back in 1967 and published its last issue in 2010. Besson has been reading the comics since he was ten and based Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on the book "Ambassador of the Shadows." He has already announced that he is working on scripts for the 2nd and 3rd chapters based on future instalments of the saga.

5. Luc Besson Credits The Comics As His Primary Visual Inspiration For All His Work

That hover-taxi looks strangely familiar / Dargaud
That hover-taxi looks strangely familiar / Dargaud

The acclaimed French director paid a visit to this year's NYCC where he premiered early footage of his new sci-fi adventure. In a post-interview screening, Besson cited the comic series as one of his main visual influences and commented that he has revisited them often throughout his career, from The Fifth Element to Lucy.

6.Which Came First, The Millennium Falcon Or The Egg?

Those who caught the brief glimpse of Valerian and Laureline's space cruiser blasting through the cosmos instantly drew comparisons with the iconic Millennium Falcon. However, before the fan-boys of the world throw their sabers at Besson, let it be known that he faithfully adapted the ship from the original comics that were published a full decade before Lucas took us to a galaxy far, far away.

7. Valerian Will Be The Most Expensive Film Ever Produced In Europe

Entrance to the city of Alpha / Europacorp
Entrance to the city of Alpha / Europacorp

Immersing audiences in a palpable vision of the future is an expensive business and Besson's production company, Europacorp really put their money where their mouth is on this one. With a mammoth budget of $180 million, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has smashed the records for the most expensive European film ever made — beating Asterix at the Olympic Games ($113,500,000) and Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia ($77,600,000).

8. Besson Penned A 600 Page Bible Dedicated To The Project

Besson teaching Natalie Portman how to shoot a gun on the set of 'Léon' / Gaumont
Besson teaching Natalie Portman how to shoot a gun on the set of 'Léon' / Gaumont

Besson has dreamed of bringing his childhood obsession to the big screen for so long that he's even written his own 600 page bible that covers every in-and-out of the universe on display. This includes in-depth descriptions of each alien life form, even if they only appear for a few seconds. If you try and test him with the trickiest questions, Luc will literally throw the book at you.

9. Intergalactic Friends: Besson Gets His Marvel-ous Pals Involved

In an exclusive interview with Cinemablend, the 57-year-old director spoke about enlisting the help of fellow filmmaker Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Transporter) for a very special cameo. Leterrier slipped on the motion-capture bodysuit to bring Kortan Dahuk, Valerian's alien ally, to life.

10. All That Jazz: Rihanna Teaches Aliens About Cabaret

Just when you think Besson has used up all the tricks up his sleeve, the over-the-top director stays true to his flamboyant nature and gives us one more surprise. Entertainment Weekly dropped a brief Valerian gif that features everyone's favorite bad-girl #Rihanna dressed like a space-age Liza Minnelli, showing the aliens of Alpha how Cabaret should be done.

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(Sources: Collider, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable, The Nerdist, The Hollywood Reporter, Cinemablend)