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In the first shot of the new Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets trailer, a jet-powered hover-schoolbus zooms across a surprisingly colorful desert. Yeah, we want to know more, too.

What we can say is that Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is singlehandedly proving that even in the 28th century, Hawaiian shirts never go out of style. In the new trailer, we first see Valerian and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) on the hoverbus, being chased by a giant hungry monster that looks like a magnified tardigrade (albeit with a much larger, fanged mouth) while in pursuit of a tremendous spaceship. The monster jumps onto the bus and tears stuff up, and the duo jumps to the spaceship for safety, heading up and out of the atmosphere with the creature in their wake, rising into the air and then seemingly falling from a great height.

The trailer implies this is when and where we first meet our heroes, before any of the main story starts. From there, they head to Alpha, the space city mentioned in the title (known as Point Central in the comics), which brings us the first of many images in the trailer where a highly detailed Large Thing in the background is foregrounded by many other smaller things in 3D–there’s lots to see in each frame, and you won’t have time to catch it all on first viewing.

SG1 – ALPHA The breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha is an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of their citizens. From visionary writer/director Luc Besson’s "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". Photo courtesy of STX Entertainment Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Remember how the city felt in The Fifth Element, where you could go up, down, left, or right on any axis because the urban sprawl seemed infinite? Imagine that in actual infinite space. Alpha is, as director Luc Besson put it to us when we watched the trailer with him earlier this week, “like if a thousand planets [fit in one] town. It’s a little bit like Manhattan, for example. You have Chinatown, and Little Italy, and then Wall Street, so it’s the same, but in the 28th century.” And with lots more alien races. Many of the glimpses of Alpha involve walls so tall you can’t see the bottom or top, from the blue bubbles containing smaller creatures that look a bit like the Independence Day aliens outside their armor, to gold walls of pistons and circuits maintained by these guys:

We see pale white-skinned aliens that look like more feminine versions of the Engineers from Prometheus, but are probably the Shadows, founders of Alpha/Point Central. They warn that “after centuries of peace, an unknown force threatens it all.” Valerian and Laureline, on their Millennium Falcon-like spaceship the XB982 (theirs came first, if you were wondering), get a more immediate ultimatum: they have less than 10 hours to end the threat, whatever it is.

These K-Tron warriors certainly appear to be part of the danger (they lack that reflecting orange glow in the trailer scenes).

M-5VDF-17509a1 A K-Tron Warrior on the set of Luc Besson's "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". Photo credit: Eric Gandois Photo courtesy of STX Entertainment Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We see Laureline kicking ass in science-fictiony corridors, Rihanna on stage ripping off one outfit to reveal another (will she be this movie’s Ruby Rhod?), glimpses of the Suffuss and giant whale/wormlike sea creatures I presume are Groobos, the colorful money-replicating pet Grumpy, and finally, Valerian crashing through a ceiling to land and strike the Iron Man hero pose.

“I taught him how to do that” says Laureline.

Speaking with Cara Delevingne afterward watching the trailer, we learned that that beat sums up their relationship quite well. “She kind of prods Valerian along; she makes him better,” she said. “Their partnership is incredible but her role is beautiful.” The actress, who has not seen the movie yet, still gets excited every time she sees footage. “I salivate!” she says. “Even still, watching this trailer, I’m going, ‘That’s me, oh my God, you’re Luc Besson, oh my god, what the f**k is going on? It’s still, like, whoa!” Compared to her last superpowered venture, Suicide Squad, many more of the details in Valerian were practical, including an XB982 they could walk around in. “The sets that were built were incredibly done, like precision,” she says.

SG3 – KORTAN DAHUK The Kortan Dahuk were the first extraterrestrial race to dock with the Alpha Space Station in the year 2135. They hail from the planet of Kas-ônar, 5,000 light-years from Earth. Organized by the quest for harmony and beauty, they are a well-traveled race with great experience and interaction with other species. From visionary writer/director Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Photo courtesy of EuropaCorp © 2016 VALERIAN SAS – TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION 

But as exciting as the trailer is, and as fully loaded as it seems, there’s a lot left to reveal. “Altogether there’s more than 100 different aliens, and you have seen, like, five or six,” says Besson. While he’s drawing primarily from book six of the Valerian and Laureline comics, Ambassador of the Shadows, he’s adding and changing a lot, from character names (the alien information traders the Shingouz have been renamed the Doghan Daguis) to major plot points (Valerian is absent for most of that book, so obviously that had to change). This marks his approach as closer to James Gunn’s personal stamp on the Guardians of the Galaxy films than Zack Snyder’s more literal recreations of specific comic panel artwork in 300 or Watchmen.

In short, the director believes everyone who watches Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will be surprised, although there should be a few bonuses for the diehard fans of the comics.

Are you excited for the trailer? Leave your thoughts in comments and stay tuned to Nerdist for a little something extra coming later today!

Images: EuropaCorp/STX Entertainment

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