To help debut the new full trailer for Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy," the film's official Facebook page hosted a special question and answer session with director James Gunn, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, and cast members Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Karen Gillan.
"The movie is as much James Gunn as it is Marvel. We remain true to the spirit of the comic. And I'm lucky to have a lot of similarities to Abnett [&] Lanning," said Gunn of the film. The director went on to state that viewers will "find out a little about [the Guardians'] pasts," that Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo in the film, and seemingly confirming that Thanos will appear. ("You'll have to wait and see," the director replied when asked, "Who got cast as Thanos?")
Music was a large topic of the chat, with both Gunn and Pratt weighing in on the mixtape inside Star-Lord's Walkman.
"'Hooked on a Feeling' is one of the songs on Quill's mixed cassette tape - the last reminder he has of his childhood on earth," Gunn said. "The music is also a way to keep us grounded in this out of the world space epic. We have lots of cool songs - more will be revealed soon!"
One of those songs, according to Pratt, is "O-o-h Child" by Five Stairsteps. "[It] wasn’t my favorite right out of the gate but after listening to the album so many times over and over while getting in shape that’s the one song that has the right tempo for running quickly," he said.
"It's great to have a budget," Gunn added. "After having budgets of thousands to budgets of hundreds of thousands it was great. It also helped that a lot of the songs I was going for were songs that people recognized, but they probably didn't know the names of them or the artists who recorded them. There's a real sweet spot of songs there."
Speaking of Pratt, Gunn described the role of Star-Lord as the actor's "soulmate," saying the choice to cast him was pretty easy. "It's difficult to say what casting is like, but when someone fulfills a role completely, becomes a character, and even goes beyond what you originally expected, you just know," Gunn said. "I don't know if I believe in true love and soul mates, but I do believe certain roles have soulmates, and Star-Lord and Chris are soulmates."
On Pratt's part, the actor revealed a minor spoiler during the course of the chat, recalling his first memory with the film and his last.
"The first thing I did was call my brother on the way home from the meeting with Marvel and told him the good news," Pratt said. "On the last day of shooting I was 25-feet underwater shooting as if I was stuck out in space, there was s scuba diver next to me feeding me air and I would wait to all the bubbles clear and pretend that I was dying. And I was super sick and trying really hard not to panic."
The director also discussed his creative collaboration with Kevin Feige, and the duo apparently clashed on various topics "every day."
"But the great thing about Kevin and me working together is that neither one of us have big egos about what we're doing," said Gunn. "What's important is always creating the best movie possible, not getting what we want just because we think we're right.The truth is we agree 99% of the time. Those times that we don't, we talk about it, argue about it. Usually one of us wins the argument (our editors Fred Raskin and Craig Wood are often a part of these arguments). In those times no one wins we screen both versions and see what the audiences think. But, again, this has been over relatively minor stuff. Also, I trust Kevin on a lot of big issues and I think he trusts me a lot when it comes to comedy and character stuff. It's a really fun and enlivening partnership."
While Feige confirmed that there would be some "Avengers: Age of Ultron" Easter eggs in "Guardians of the Galaxy," don't expect Star-Lord and his compatriots to show up in next year's big "Avengers" sequel.
"Well... not 'Avengers 2,'" Gunn said in response to a question about the Guardians appearing in Joss Whedon's anticipated follow-up film. "We'll have to see."
Gunn also discussed the somewhat unexpected influence on the film -- as well as the power of the source material. "One of the biggest influences was - and no one is going to expect this answer - Magritte's Empire of Light paintings," he said. "I was also very influenced by many of the great space epics and science fiction films and westerns like the films of Sergio Leone. Not to mention of course the comics, especially Abnett and Lanning and Jim Starlin."
As for the "I am Groot" finally heard in the recent trailer debut, it's one of many that Diesel had to record for the character.
"It felt like a thousand," Diesel said. "James Gunn and I were having so much with it. So it could've been a thousand. And it was amazing to go in there and to work with someone who wanted to explore the character- we wanted each 'I am Groot' to mean something different... It reminded me, as an actor, how much we can do with so little -- and if we're passionate about it, good thing can come from it."
In fact, portraying the character of Groot came for a particularly difficult time for the actor -- it was his first project since the death of his "Fast and Furious" co-star Paul Walker.
"It was the month after the accident happened with my brother Paul Walker and it was the first time I had worked since," Diesel said. "Although it was challenging, just to get back to work was therapeutic- especially as Groot. There was an innocence about the character that was just refreshing- and it may have been more challenging under other circumstances, but at that time, it was very therapeutic."
Dave Bautista, a professional wrestler (better known in that context as former WWE champion Batista) in addition to being an actor, said there weren't many similarities between being an actor and being a wrestler. "I really trust in the stuntmen and take their advice: Sometimes things feel right, but don’t look right on film," he said. "In wrestling, we’re working more for the audience and not worrying about how it looks on camera."
Karen Gillan noted during the chat that she found shaving her head particularly freeing, and briefly discussed the difference between Nebula and her other well-known role in genre entertainment, "Doctor Who" companion Amy Pond.
"Amy is a hero and Nebula is a villain. Each were really fun and I could never choose between either of them," she said. "Hopefully people like Nebula just as much as Amy."
"Nebula is pretty far removed from me as a person," Gillan said in response to another question. "Some was drawn from the comics and some we established in our own right."
While there were many topics touched on during the chat, Bautista and Gunn recalled a particularly fun behind-the-scenes story involving a prank.
"There was a day when the cast and James played a prank on me," Bautista said. "James made the whole cast and crew (about 200 people) have a dance off for his own amusement. Everyone was in on it but me -- they called me to the set, Chris pointed at me, and I got pulled into the middle. The set turned into a rave!"
"That's true," Gunn continued. "Star-Lord was offering a dance off to Ronan, who has a stick up his butt in the movie. But instead we got Lee [Pace] to start dancing in his bulky costume - he was really good. And we told Zoe [Saldana] ahead of time as well and she was doing a nice sexy Zoe dance. And then Chris pointed to Dave, who, despite his surprise, took it like a champ. He grabbed his ankle and started dancing around on one leg. We have it all on film!!! I'm sure everyone will be able to see this on the Blu-ray. All 200 extras started dancing as well. Forgot about them."
The New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Trailer: Why This Thing Could Save the Superhero Genre
The new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer just emerged from its cocoon deep in the third-string underbelly of the Marvel Universe to sate your hunger for spaceships, explosions, Bradley Cooper–voiced CGI raccoons, talking trees, a green Zoe Saldana, David Bautista without a shirt, and Chris Pratt’s very existent abs. Guardians director James Gunn is perhaps best known to the nerd community for his 2006 small-town mutant zombie flick Slither, which starred Firefly alumnus Nathan Fillion and the always-wonderful Elizabeth Banks. Chances are you didn’t see it, but Slither’s stylistic mash-up of comedy, action, sci-fi elements, classic rock, and pop culture callbacks are in full evidence in this latest Guardians trailer.
Before I get to my argument why this film could be the creative savior of the entire genre, I think it’s important to state that, full disclosure, Marvel Studios is owned by Disney and my paychecks have little pictures of Mickey Mouse on them. Fuller disclosure: I have read and enjoyed the comic books that (probably) form the basis for the movie’s plot; I will see this movie in the theater, probably at a midnight release with a decent whiskey buzz; and I feel only slightly ashamed of myself.
OK. So, you might be tired of corporate superhero movies by now: eternally rebooted capes and tights, slugging it out with aliens or mad scientists or false-flag Nazi cults over this and that cosmic MacGuffin in the streets of a highly urbanized population center as skyscrapers disintegrate into gray puffs of uncomfortably ghoulish reflected collective memory. I get it.
Here’s why Guardians of the Galaxy might be cool, though:
The characters come from a somewhat niche corner of Marvel’s continuity, generally referred to as Marvel Cosmic. Basically: space shit. The advantage of drawing on characters from the cosmic spectrum of Marvel’s museum of superhero brands is the intrafictional separation of said cosmic characters from the normal earthbound goings-on of your Spider-Mans, X-Peoples, and Avengers, meaning less continuity structure and more creative latitude for the storytellers to get super weird.
How weird? Let’s see, the Guardians are based out of an interspecies space station called Knowhere that is housed in the small-town-size severed head of an ancient robot alien perched precariously at the edge of the universe. The chief of security on Knowhere is a telepathic Labrador mix of Russian cosmonaut extraction, named Cosmo, complete with 1950s fishbowl helmet. One plot arc in the comic books revolved around a mission to seal fissures in the space-time continuum, which opened up the [makes air quotes] normal Marvel Universe to an alternate dimension called “the Cancerverse,” where death does not exist, everyone is vaguely satanic, and there are lots of disturbing hentai tentacles.
Comic-book universes are known for their cross-over events — basically, money grabs in which the reader is induced to buy titles they wouldn’t normally purchase because this super team’s narrative suddenly becomes intertwined with that super team’s narrative. Over the last 10 years Marvel Comics has run something like one or two of these a year, some good, many just OK, and a few so bad they make you question your life choices. The two crossovers that spawned the onscreen iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy are among Marvel’s very best in that period, primarily because writers Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett could do whatever they wanted, as big as they wanted out in this far-flung niche of corporate comics land. When the Avengers face off against Thanos and a bunch of terraforming aliens, you’re pretty sure the Avengers aren’t going to die (or even comic-book die, i.e., die for a few months or a year until their undead souls are rescued from the clutches of Hel or death or whatever). The Khrushchev-era Russian space dog, some B-roll quasi-insectoid aliens who have barely appeared in mainstream continuity since the Carter administration, and a half-human named after penis euphemisms whose book has been canceled twice? The suits who make licensing deals could not care less about them, and that made for better stories.
That will probably change if this movie is a hit. But right now, no one knowing who Rocket Raccoon is is a big plus. It’s a gamble, but a gamble to reinvigorate an overstuffed movie genre by injecting it with some truly strange ideas.
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