As I am sure you all know by now, I am a total Marvel Fan Girl. I have been reading the comics since I was a little girl so when the MCU started, I was more than excited. My favorite characters were coming to life, and boy did Marvel Studios know how to do it right. So when I got the interview list for the Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 event and saw not only the Director, James Gunn on it, but Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige too, my heart almost exploded. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get words to come out of my mouth being in the same room as these two geniuses. And what happened after the interview was one of the best moments of my life – more on that later.
James Gunn walked in and immediately said that his “favorite part of making the Guardians is movie is meeting with the Mommy Bloggers.” and then added “That’s not a joke. That’s a hundred percent true.” This set the tone for a fantastic interview. Now, I previously met James on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and so I knew we were all in for a treat.
Finding the Right Music
If you know anything about the Guardians movies, you know that music plays a big role. In fact, the music has been referred to as a character of its own on several occasions. We asked James to tell us about the process of choosing the music.
“I have a list of about 500 songs which I think of as Guardians-type songs that Meredith Quill might really love. When I’m writing the script, I put the songs into the script where they seem to fit. Sometimes I don’t have a song that seems right on that list, so I have to go out and search, and listen to a bunch of stuff, and see what I like. It’s all basically baked into the organic story of what’s happening in the movie in the same way you put sugar in a cake. “
James then let us know that one song was found from a Twitter follower of his. Kevin Feige hadn’t even heard the story yet.
“There’s nothing I get more tweets about than ‘you [should] put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy.’ They’re always songs that I know really well, because I’ve studied my Seventies music – especially since starting on this series. Somebody sent this song by this band called Silver, called “Wham Bam.” And I’m like, I’ve never [heard this song before]. I went and I played it, and I’m like, ‘This is a really cool, like, total Seventies pop song that is so different.’ I thought it was a modern band with a retro vibe. I had to go and do some research on it, and found out that it really existed, and then I put it in the movie. So, I wish I knew who that Twitter person was.“
Disneyland’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout Ride
Kevin added to this conversation by letting us know about the outline of the Guardians movies that James submitted. He also went on to talk about the new Guardians ride at Disneyland.
“A lot of screenwriters put song suggestions into their scripts, and almost none of those songs end up in the actual movie. When James did that on an outline in the first movie it was like, “Oh, that’s cute. He thinks these songs are gonna be in the movie.” Every single song [made it in]. [They were] perfect for the movie. And then on part two, I knew better. So, I would listen to the song as I’m reading the outline, and then later the script. And that pool of songs that he has comes in handy. There’s a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park ride that is opening soon at California Adventure that features songs that James suggested as well, and a few other places coming up in the future. “
Guardians and the Avengers
At this point we all know the Guardians are going to be in Infinity War. We know they are going to come across the Avengers – and I know I for one cannot wait to see how it all plays out. We asked Kevin how this was all coming together.
“As with all of the connectivity between our characters on various films, you have to be careful about it. We never want it to just seem like characters are popping their heads out of windows and saying “Hello” and then going back in. Believe me, it’d be easier to do it that way, but it wouldn’t be as satisfying. So a big role, a small role, regardless of the actual screen time that any single character has – and I think you’ve seen this in the Avengers films, and in Civil War last year – it’ll be very meaningful and very important to the story that we’re telling. That film is shooting right now and we’ve already shot a lot of those interactions, and it’s very exciting.“
It’s All About Family
James Gunn’s family makes a cameo in this film. His parents, his brother, his brother’s wife – even his nephews and his niece. At the premiere he dedicated the movie to his parents and it was very touching. When we brought that up to him, he told us how he felt about the Guardians movies truly being about family.
“I think the first movie really is about a relationship from a mother to her son, and the second movie is about a relationship from a father to a son. My parents would be the first to admit it was not the easiest upbringing, but they loved me. I think at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important, and I think that’s the point of the movie. I think these characters love each other, and as hard as it is for them to express it to each other, and even more so with a character like Rocket, who has almost an impossible time taking it in at all – that’s what the movie is about.“
Pairing the Right Directors with Films
Obviously (no pun intended), James Gunn was the perfect choice as Director for Guardians of the Galaxy. I simply cannot imagine these movies any other way. We asked Kevin about the process for choosing the right directors, because with the MCU, every movie has been matched perfectly with it’s Director.
“It’s a leap of faith to some regard. And a lot of it is, ‘is the vibe there, and do we want to spend, in a worst-case scenario, three years together, and in a best-case scenario, ten years together? 12?’ We have a great team at Marvel Studios, and in the case of Guardians it was executive producer Jeremy Latcham and now executive producer Jonathan Schwartz who did the first round of meetings. They were the first people James met with [and they] pitched the notion of this weird space movie with raccoons and trees.“
James Gunn built on what Kevin had to say by letting us know that he wasn’t sure he was going to take the job at first.
“When I said goodbye to them I thought they were making a huge mistake. I [was thinking] ‘You guys have done a great job so far as Marvel, but, you know this is Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers, and you’re gonna look like idiots.’ I kind of smiled and shook their hands, I went home, and I didn’t think I was going to pursue it in any way. Then on the way home, it hit me. I was seeing the first poster in my head on the way home, and I realized what this movie could be, and how it could bring color and heart into a big, franchise film, and create the kind of space opera that I’ve wanted to do my entire life. I think that I’m lucky and that I’m good at casting. I’m able to see something in these actors that maybe somebody else doesn’t see. But in the same way, I think Kevin cast me. Kevin gave me an opportunity. They saw something in this eclectic stuff that I was doing that could be applied to a mainstream film.”
Time to Give a Shit About Something
James concluded the interview with something I found very poetic. I apologize for the language, but I had to leave his quotes as is for this.
“In the first Guardians movie, the Guardians say, ‘Maybe it’s time to actually give a shit about something.’ I had a lot of success doing things in Hollywood, and I always considered that my strength was that I didn’t really give a shit. I would go in and I would pitch something, and I’m like, ‘Well, if I get the job, then I’m gonna get money. But if I don’t get the job, then I don’t have to work for a little while.’ I’m very lazy. This fact, that I didn’t care, I always thought it was my strength. And for the first time in my life, I really, really wanted the Guardians of the Galaxy gig. That honestly had never happened to me before. I had never done it. And so it was a new experience for me in caring, and it’s so funny because that’s exactly what the Guardians are about.“
Making this Marvel Fan Girl’s Day
The Guardians of the Galaxy comic books have been my favorites – always. When I have to cut down titles (I used to get nearly 50 a month, guys), GotG was never one to go. As long as Marvel was publishing them, I was buying them. James Gunn brought these characters to life and so when I was deciding on how to go about my Guardians sleeve tattoo, it wasn’t even a question as to which versions I was using – it was the MCU versions. Plus, how could I not have Baby Groot? He wasn’t in the comics until right now (and I love him). My tattoo is still in progress, but I was super excited to be able to rock it on the red carpet.
— Tessa Smith – Mama's Geeky (@MamasGeeky) April 14, 2016
At one point during the interview I noticed Kevin kind of catch my eye and I knew he had noticed it. When the interview ended, he asked to see my arm – and what happened next was one of the best moments of my life. Kevin and James told me how cool it was and then James asked me if he could take a picture with it. I mean, just a year ago I spotted Kevin Feige on the Captain America: Civil War red carpet and was freaking out inside (see the tweet above). Now he was in awe of my arm and James Gunn was asking me to take a photo with them!?! I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was all a bit of a blur but I am pretty sure I didn’t stop smiling for a week.
You would think it couldn’t get any better than that, but then it did. James posted the picture on his Instagram. Life made, guys. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is in theaters now and is a MUST SEE. I have seen it twice and it only gets better, I promise you. James Gunn is a genius. You won’t be disappointed.
Potential Spoilers Beyond This Point!
Below are some potential spoilers from our interview. If you have seen the movie already, read on, because there is some great information. If you haven’t (why haven’t you seen it yet?!), then bookmark this page and come back to finish it later.
Gamora and Star-Lord
Many fans are eagerly awaiting for Gamora and Peter to finally kiss, others, maybe not as much. It is definitely something that has to be done very well to be satisfying for all parties involved. We asked James why we hadn’t seen that yet in Guardians, and his response was everything I could have hoped for.
“At the end of the movie we have a moment between the two of them where something is acknowledged. Zoe and I actually talked about this for a long time – about having a kiss in the movie. We tried to treat these characters with such respect and such love. Gamora is a character who would not be swept up in the moment by passion, and if she was, I think she would have to deal with the ramifications of that. I don’t think she would be easy on herself about it. I think at the end, what we see between the two of them is a truer love story. Where she loves him, and he loves her – and she acknowledges that at the end of the movie – but that’s a love that’s based not only on attraction but on a really deep friendship that the two of them have.”
“At the beginning of the movie, they’re great friends – she’s a great support to him when he’s making this decision, and he respects and loves her. So I think seeing that emotional part of their relationship is a culmination of what their relationship is in the movie. It is more powerful than seeing a kiss that is romantic and would make us feel happy and feel good, but wouldn’t be as true.“
Kevin’s response was perfect, “It’s the difference between a truthful, emotional moment, and a Hollywood moment, and that was very savvy of James to navigate that.”
I know that y’all noticed Stakar and the other Ravager captains joining forces at the end. It was a nice nod to the comics and how amazing would it be if we got a stand alone film out of it? I mean, a girl can dream right? We asked James if there was a potential storyline there and he had a lot to say about it.
“Absolutely, I’m excited about those guys. I love those guys. They’re based on the original Guardians in the comic books, as Yondu is. That is something that we shot in post because I woke up one morning, and I was like, ‘Oh my God. This could be so fun. What if we made an even weirder, more screwy, more dysfunctional Guardians?’ I went to Kevin, and I’m like, ‘Can we please do this? Kevin was like, ‘I love it! It’s my favorite thing ever.’ So we went out and we shot it with Sly (Stakar) and the gang. And Michelle Yeoh (Aleta Ogord), who I’m a big fan of, because I’m a big fan of Nineties Hong Kong movies. And Ving Rhames (Charlie-27), who I knew from the Dawn of the Dead movie I did a long time ago. It is something I’m excited to possibly pursue. Whether or not that’s something that’s small roles, or we see them pop up in the way we see Howard the Duck pop up.“
Miley Cyrus as Mainframe
As you may have heard by now, Miley Cyrus voices Mainframe, who is an artificial intelligence that evolved from the operational system of Vision. That news actually broke in this interview room! James let us in on the “hot scoop” and told us how it came about.
“I was watching the voice, and I’m like, ‘She’s so likeable. And her voice is awesome. She’s got the best voice.’ Then I wrote this [scene] and I went in and I said, ‘Kevin, what do you think about casting Miley Cyrus as the voice of Mainframe?’ And he was like, ‘Well, see if we can get her.’ And then I got her to do it.“
We tried guys – we REALLY tried to get more details on Adam Warlock in the MCU. But alas, all we got from both Kevin and James was that we will see him in the future sometime. I cannot wait for that moment! In fact, I think I am going to save a little bit of room in my tattoo to add in Adam. Of course, I have to wait to see his movie version – so James, if you are reading this, if you can email that to me so I don’t have to wait that would be great. I promise I won’t share it.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.