A few weeks ago, I had the amazing experience to attend the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Press Junket in Los Angeles, which included the World Premiere of the movie, as well as interviews with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and the rest of the cast. But one of the most exciting interviews we did was with the writer & director of the movie, James Gunn, and the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige. Here’s why:
SPOILER ALERT: FYI Friends! The below article contains a few spoilers from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you will want to bookmark this article to read after you do….cause it’s GOOD STUFF.
My favorite part of making the Guardians movie is meeting with the Mommy Bloggers. That’s not a joke. You guys are the best, because it’s totally real and not so Hollywood-y.
I have to start this article about our interview with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 writer & director, James Gunn and the producer of the movie and head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige with the exact words they said to us as they walked into the room.
We are not so Hollywood-y. How refreshing it was for them to come into the room with a bunch of friendly faces, true fans of the movie, and not just here for the “hot scoop” (their words, not mine).
I was already endeared to Gunn because of his work. I mean, I think the man is a genius – there is no other way to describe a person who can come up with such creative story-lines, add real humor, and make it endearing to each movie-goer. Guardians of the Galaxy was the first Marvel movie that I feel was made for everyone, from the die-hard comic book fan to the mom who takes her sons to the movies. And it was the story-line of Vol 1 that made me go back and watch all the other Marvel movies. It turned me into a fan.
So I was thrilled to meet this genius.
There was one song that came from Twitter….
James, can you tell us anything about the process of choosing the music for this one?
James Gunn: I have a list of about 500 songs, which I think of as, Guardians-type songs that Meredith Quill might really love. And when I’m going through and 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. But eventually it’s all basically baked into the organic story of what’s happening in a movie, in the same way you put sugar in a cake.
There was one song that came from from Twitter. ‘Wham Bam.’ I had never heard that song.
There’s nothing I get more tweets about than “you oughta put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy.” Those are the nice ones. The mean ones are, “If you don’t put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ll never talk to you again.” I’m like, “Okay, don’t talk to me.” But they’re always songs that I know really well, because I’ve studied my Seventies music, especially since starting on this series, and somebody sent this song by this band called Silver, called “Wham Bam.”
And I’m like, “I’ve never — what is that song?” And I went and I played it, and I’m like, “This is a really cool, total Seventies pop song that is so different.” I thought it was a modern band with, like, 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.
Kevin Feige: What’s so amazing, and it was like this on the first one, and held to it on the second one, a lot of screenwriters put song suggestions into their scripts, and almost none of those songs end up in the actual movie. And 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. We’ll see.” Every single song. It’s not just the movie. But what’s 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 sort of pool of songs that he has comes in handy.
KF: I remember when we did our very first test screening. Because we had written all of the songs into the movie, and one of the first comments was, “The music is great.” And I remember you going, “Oh. Thank God, thank God.” The whole movie was built around it. And it’s like, if people said “the music is weird, we hate it,” then that would have been big trouble.
It’s the difference between a truthful, emotional moment, and a Hollywood moment
Just jumping into Star-Lord and Gamora’s relationship, it’s slowly unraveling. And we didn’t get the kiss. Why was that the intention and why are we taking that slow route? Or, is it even ever going to get there?
JG: At the end of the movie we have a moment between the two of them, where I think something is acknowledged. And Zoe and I actually talked about this for a long time last night at the premiere, and there was a time when we had a lot of discussion and talked about having a kiss in the movie. But we tried to treat these characters with such respect and such love.
And I don’t think that Gamora is a character who would be swept up in the moment by passion. 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. And so I think at the end, what we see between the two of them is such 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.
A partnership that we see at the beginning of the movie. That they’ve changed a great deal. 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. And so I think seeing that emotional part of their relationship 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.
KF: It’s the difference between a truthful, emotional moment, and a Hollywood moment, and that was very savvy of James to navigate that.
Who is the voice of Mainframe?
JG: Miley Cyrus. A scoop. That’s a real hot scoop. Miley Cyrus has a cameo in the movie.
KF: Mainframe’s the talking metal head at the end.
JG: I’m a hundred percent serious. I was watching The Voice, and I’m like, “She’s so likeable.” And her voice is awesome. I’m like, “She’s got the best voice.” And then I wrote this thing 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, I’ll see if we can get her.”
Speaking of cameos, your parents were in it too, right?
JG: My parents. My brother. My brother’s wife. My two nephews and my niece are all in that scene. (Where Ego is destroying Earth) So, I kill a lot of my family members. They’re credited in the credits as “weird old man” and “weird old man’s mistress.” Which my mom loved.
We’re all very touched by your dedication to your parents.
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. It just may not be the father that we expect it to be. And they’re all very imperfect characters. My parents would be the first to admit it was not the easiest upbringing, but they loved me. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important, and I think that’s the point of the movie.
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.
This is Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers, and you’re gonna look like idiots.
Kevin, I have a question. You are amazing at picking the right directors. How do you do that, how do you pair the directors with the movies?
KF : Well, it’s really a leap of faith, to some regard. We have a great team at Marvel Studios. And in the case of Guardians it was Executive Producer Jerry Latcham and now Executive Producer Jonathan Schwartz who did the first round of meetings, and pitched the notion of this weird space movie with raccoons and trees.
JG : Yeah, they pitched that idea to me, and I was driving home after the meeting, and when I said goodbye to them I thought they were making a huge mistake. And I’m like, “That’s gonna — 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.”
And so I kind of smiled and shook their hand and I went home, and I didn’t really think I was going to take the gig. And then on the way home, it hit me. It really, really hit me, and it 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.
In the first Guardians movie, the Guardians say, “Maybe it’s time to actually give a shit about something.”
And this is being completely honest. 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 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.
When the Guardians meet the Avengers, how will fitting a whole team dynamic into a supporting role work?
KF: Well, as with all of the connectivity between our characters on various films, you have to be careful about it. I mean, we never want it to just seem like characters are popping their heads out of windows and saying “Hello” and then going back in.
JG: It’s a whole movie of Stan Lee cameos.
KF: 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’s shooting right now and we’ve already shot a lot of those interactions, and they’re very exciting. It’s very exciting.
To me, it’s very exciting to get to speak to the writers and producers of movies. I like to hear what they were thinking as they created it. It takes the movie to a whole different level for me. I hope this brief time with James Gunn & Kevin Feige does that for you as well. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was such a terrific film. I hope if you haven’t seen it, that you will see it soon!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is in theaters NOW!
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Disclaimer: Disney sent me to Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid press trip, in exchange for my coverage of the red carpet premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. All opinions are my own.