Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expense paid trip as part of a press Junket with Marvel to cover this and all Guardians of the Galaxy media.
Marvel Studios has released so many cinematic greats in the last decade. Of all the movies, of all the characters, of all the story lines to date, Guardians of the Galaxy is my personal and profound favorite.
I try not to fan-girl much, but I will admit I have had the rare opportunity to interview some great talent and creators in the movie industry. When I found out that we were going to interview Kevin Feige and James Gunn as part of the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, I squealed a bit like a 12 year old girl going to a Justin Bieber concert. Imagine all of the Marvel die hard fans around the world wanting the chance to sit in a room with two elite members of the club. That is how I felt the day that I got to interview Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Director James Gunn and Marvel Entertainment President, Kevin Feige.
SPOILER ALERT WARNING
Now before we go into details of this interview, know that there are MAJOR SPOILERS that you are about to read. If you have not seen the movie yet (which I hope you have or recommend you do ASAP), be mindful that this has some major plot twist discussions. You have been forewarned! Now, read on for some amazing details.
James Gunn is what make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 such a cinematic masterpiece. His vision, his creativity and his passion resound on the screen from the first to the last scene. EVEN THE CREDITS!
THEY LOVE THE MOMMY BLOGGERS!
I had the chance to interview James Gunn as part of the press junket for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and he was just as funny, down-to-earth and engaging as the first time we met. He walked into the room with Kevin and what he said was music to my ears – “This is my favorite part of making the Guardians movie is meeting with the Mommy Bloggers. That’s not (a) joke!”He even asked Kevin Feige, “You’ve done these before, right?” To which Kevin replied “Of course.” I love how he and Kevin both described us, the mommy bloggers, the ones who are the everyday fan, moviegoer, family extraordinaire!
James Gunn: That’s a hundred percent, a hundred percent true.
Kevin Feige: Absolutely.
James Gunn: It’s like, you guys are the best, because it’s like, totally, like, real and not so…you know…
Kevin Feige : Hollywood-y?
James Gunn : Hollywood-y, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
And this was all before they even took their seats to start the formal or informal some would say, interview about the movie. We did start with a question that everyone wanted to know…the music.
CREATING AWESOME MIX TAPES IS A PROCESS!
James Gunn: I mean, you know, listen. I have a list of about 500 songs, which I think of as, like, 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, and so I have to go out and search, and listen to a bunch of stuff, and see what I like, you know.
Eventually it’s all basically baked into the organic story of what’s happening in a movie, in the same way you put, you know, sugar in a cake. But they had that — there was one song that came from Twitter.
Kevin Feige: Which?
James Gunn: Wham Bam. I had never heard that song. And all of the time — I mean, there’s nothing I get more tweets about than ‘You oughta put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy.” But that’s — those are the nice ones. The mean ones were, “If you don’t put this song in Guardian of the Galaxy, I’ll never talk to you again.” I’m like, “Okay, don’t talk to me.” But they always say, and they’re always songs that I know really well, ’cause 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?” I went and I played it, and I’m like, “This is a really cool, like, total Seventies pop song that is so different.” Then I was like, “Is this, like, a fake song?” I thought it was a modern band with, like, a retro vibe.
Had to go and do some research on it, and found out that it really existed, and then I put it in the movie.
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, I think even maybe on an outline in the first movie, and certainly in an outline on the second movie.
On the first one, 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. That sort of 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.
James Gunn: That’s a hot scoop. Chosen by us. I remember when we did the first, the screening of — our very first test screening. Because we had written all of the songs into the movie, and they were all in there, and then all of a sudden, somebody — one of the first comments was, “The music is great.” And I remember you going, “Oh. Thank God, thank God.”
Because the whole movie was built around those songs. It’s like, if people said “the music is weird, we hate it,” then that would have been big trouble.
Kevin Feige: That would have been, yeah. Big trouble.
James Gunn: Would have been like saying, “take out all the jokes. Take out the raccoon. We love it all but the stupid raccoon.”
Kevin Feige: Right, exactly. [LAUGHS] Exactly!
James Gunn: But also, that’s the other thing I remember is that when I write…I write a very in-depth treatment. It ends up being about 70 pages long. That number’s a little bit high because I put a bunch of photographs in there, or sort of, you know, things that make us know what the feel of things are.
But it’s more like a 55-page draft. But it goes very much into depth, in the dialogue, every beat of the story, what’s happening. I like to do that first. But with that, I have a disk that I give to the four, five people that read that treatment, and that disk has all of the songs on it that are in the movie.
WILL THERE BE A KISS?!
Just jumping into Star-Lord and Gamora’s relationship and how it’s slowly unraveling. We didn’t get the kiss. I thought we were going to go there but , it didn’t happen. As you will see in the movie, the relationship is growing, but we still don’t see that “KISS” that most hopeless romantics want to see. We asked him to elaborate on where this will maybe go into Volume 3.
James Gunn: Well, I mean, I think that — and this is a spoiler, so be careful with the way you guys release this stuff.
Kevin Feige: Oh, boy.
James Gunn: But at the end of the movie we have a moment between the two of them, where I think something is acknowledged, you know. And Zoe (Saldana) and I actually talked about this for a long time last night at the premiere, at the party after the premiere, and there was a time when we had a lot of discussion and talked about having a kiss in the movie. It seemed to be…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, 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. 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. 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 Feige: It’s the difference between a truthful, emotional moment, and a Hollywood moment, and that was very savvy of James to navigate that.
HOW WILL THE A-HOLES FIT IN WITH THE REST OF THE AVENGERS?!
Melding several movies with different directional visions can be challenging. We asked Kevin, when the Guardians meet the Avengers, how will fitting a whole team dynamic into a supporting role work?
Kevin Feige: Well. I mean, 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.
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 it’s very exciting.
OMG, WHO IS THAT RAVAGER? LET’S TALK MEGA-CAMEOS!
As any true Marvel fans knows, when the credits start to roll, that doesn’t mean the movie is over. As another SPOILER ALERT for you – there are FIVE scenes between credits, including one with all of the older Ravager captains. You will see some of the great cameos including Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh and even Miley Cyrus!
We asked James about the scene with the Ravager captains at the end and wanted to know of any future possible story line there. Could there be a spinoff or maybe is this prequel teaser to something earlier that happened before our present-day Guardians.
James Gunn: Absolutely, I’m excited about those guys. I love those guys. I mean they’re based on the original Guardians in the comic books. It’s based on Stakar and Charlie 27 and Aleta and an earlier iteration of the Guardians, 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?”
And I went to Kevin, and I’m like, “Can we please do this?” And Kevin was like, “I love it! It’s my favorite thing ever.” And so we went out and we shot it with Sly and the gang. And Michelle Yeoh, who I’m a big fan of, because I’m a big fan of old, 90’s Hong Kong movies, and she also happens to be a great person. And Ving Rhames, who I knew from the Dawn of the Dead movie I did a long time ago.
So it was something I’m excited to possibly pursue. Whether or not that’s something, you know, they’re small roles, or we see them pop up in the way we see Howard the Duck pop up again in this movie. Or whether it’s something where we sign Sly to a ten-picture deal…
Kevin Feige: 12!
James Gunn: …the solo Mainframe movie.
Kevin Feige: Who is the voice of Mainframe?
James Gunn: Miley Cyrus! A scoop. That’s a real hot scoop. Miley Cyrus has a cameo in the movie.
Kevin Feige: Mainframe’s the talking metal head at the end.
James Gunn: 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
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Speaking of cameos, not only do we see a prominent of James’ brother Sean (Kraglin), but did you know his mom and dad were in the movie too?
Yes. My parents. Well, you know, in that scene (see the movie to find out), my parents are in it. My brother, my brother’s wife, my two nephews and my niece are all in that scene. Yeah, so, you know, I kill a lot of my family members. It’s not quite “aww.” It’s more like, y’know, “grr.” My dad, they’re credited in the credits as “weird old man” and “weird old man’s mistress.” Which my mom loved. My mom loved it. My mom loves being the mistress.
On the dedication he has to his parents:
Well, you know, I think this — again, 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, but, you know, my parents loved me. 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.
WAIT, WHAT? YES, THE MUSIC MAY HAVE SOME EVOLUTION IN VOLUME 3!
So you will learn in Volume 2 that Ego destroys, literally crushes Peter Quill’s beloved Walkman and his Awesome Mixtape #2. We later see that Peter gets a, well, ‘high tech’ for the time, a Zune MP3 player and some earbuds. If you don’t know, a Zune was Microsoft’s version of the iPod and was discontinued in 2011. So, with the introduction of the Zune, we wanted to know if there would be any evolution of the music. Maybe with an 80’s/90’s vibe?
Well, it’s not about becoming 80’s/90’s. I think we’ll have to wait and see exactly what the music is. You know where that Zune came from, and that gives us a different relationship to the music, and what we go forward with.
Both guys were Marvel -ous to talk with. The mommy bloggers truly love them as much as they love us. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is in theaters now and you will not want to miss it while it is on the big screen.
Here is a great 60 second video that brings the two movies together beautifully!
Here is the extended trailer – get to theaters now to see it!
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell.
Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” blasts into theaters now!
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*(Interview Photos by Louise Bishop)