James Gunn Talks Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Vin Diesel, Marvel Studios & Thanos
Gunn talks Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Vin Diesel, Marvel Studios, Thanos and more.
James Gunn described Guardians of the Galaxy as “a space opera with a big superhero element to it, and also a whole lot of fun.”
On how he got involved with the movie and Rocket Raccoon:
I was called in by Marvel to talk about something, and maybe I knew it was Guardians of the Galaxy. And I went in, and I talked to them. And they pitched me, “Hey, we are doing this movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.” And I sat in the meeting, and I thought “Ehh…” First of all I thought, “They are never going to hire me. This is a jerk off f-n meeting where I’m not going to be…”
But I like these guys, and I have known these guys for a little while personally. But like I didn’t think… I mean, I know what it’s like when you meet with a bunch of actors for a big role and a big movie, and eventually you go with some big actor. Except we do things a little differently. But here…anyway… I came in. I didn’t pitch myself; they pitched me the idea. I wasn’t totally sure when they first told me about it. I was like — because I really wanted to do Hit Monkey. I don’t know if you had ever heard of Hit Monkey. I had gone to Marvel about Hit Monkey before. I do love animals, and I do love Raccoons. There is this character called Hit Monkey. I had gone into their offices a couple months before and said, “We got to to Hit Monkey.” They were like, “Uhhh…we’ll think about it.” So anyway, I go back in and talk to them about Guardians, and I wasn’t sure about it, but as I went home, I couldn’t get it out of my head, and then I really started to see it, what I wanted to do with it.
It really came to me first as a visual thing. I wanted to attack a science-fiction movie or more accurately a space epic in a way that was a little bit different than people had been doing it lately. You know ever since Blade Runner had come out, everything has been sort of very dark. And that’s what everything is. Or it’s all Logan’s Run looking. You know, if you have seen a couple pretty decent science-fiction movies from this year everything is white.
I really wanted to bring back that ’50s/’60s sort of bright colors of the space opera of Fantastic Voyage and bring them into a modern grittier type of feel. So really to have that pulp feel with a really grounded feel and merge them together into something that can be a lot of fun. So that is where it started from me, simply visually I saw what it could be, and then I think I saw how we can make a talking Raccoon work. They were like “Rocket Raccoon is one of the main characters.” I knew who Rocket was because I’m a big comic fan. I knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy was. I enjoyed them. I liked the original team way back when. I liked the modern Abnett and Lanning stuff that started in about 2008. It wasn’t like they were my favorite group of all time. I just really liked them.
Rocket, I thought “well, maybe,” but I also thought it was a lot different in a comic book to have a talking raccoon, and having a talking raccoon on film. For me it really did come down to, “Okay, if there is a talking raccoon, let’s say there is.” There has to be obviously, as their is a talking raccoon in the Marvel film. How could it be real? If it was real, what was it? And it got down to this place where Rocket for me is a result of countless and pretty cruel genetic experiments where he has an IQ of 3, and he becomes this thing that is completely alone, this gnarled little beast. And that to me was the beginning of it. There is almost a Frankenstein type vibe to Rocket. If he was real, what would he be like? He’s pretty sad. And I think that sort of grounded me. That’s what got me excited actually, was him.
On Vin Diesel and Groot:
Let me tell you.
Vin. I can not tell you – I am being completely serious – the ways that Vin Diesesl says “I am Groot.” I am utterly astounded. Here’s the thing; when we made the movie – we’re still making the movie – but when we first did, we had different voice overs for Rocket. My brother played Rocket on set, Sean Gunn, who was on Gilmore Girls for a long time, who also has a pretty sizeable role in the movie. So we had all these different voices doing Rocket, and Bradley came in and really nailed it. He was great.
With “I am Groot” — all the “I am Groots” that were the earlier voices didn’t sound good at all. They sounded like sh-t. And it really didn’t work. Vin came in, and in one day laid down all these “I am Groot” tracks. He’s a perfectionist. He will sit there, and he made me explain to him with every “I am Groot” exactly what he was saying. And I would be like, “When you are saying ‘I am Groot’ right now, it would be like you are saying ‘I don’t like eating spinach. I much prefer potatoes.'” Then Vin would sit there, and he would do it, and he would do it again and again and again, and his voice is so rich and so beautiful. He really opened up and was – I find this a lot – was this character. He was amazing when we first put that voice in there how much the character changed and how much he influenced the character.
We are doing some mo-cap with the character. What would we do is, with Bradley and my brother Sean and with Vin Diesel, we film everything they do. We can use that as a reference. So while they are recording, like in front of a microphone like this one, we’ll have Vin acting out everything and doing all the acting, and we recorded that. It’s kind of like, have you ever seen behind the scenes on Rango. That’s not motion capture, that’s actual film capture.
About Marvel Studios:
The great think about me and Marvel, we really see eye to eye. The greatest thing about Marvel, honestly, is that when you make a movie with a studio, normally you have the producers, and then you have the studio. So you have the studio heads, the studios execs and everybody else. And everybody has a different idea of what that movie is. So the director has an idea; maybe the cast has an idea;the producers have an idea; the studio has an idea. Often times the producers and studios are at odds with each other, and it becomes very complicated. With Marvel, it’s like they have total control [laughs] – they are owned by Disney, but Disney is not a part of making the film itself – they are a part of selling it, we’ll show them things. They have been really great. Disney has been great. But Marvel is Marvel, so it’s four people and me. And that’s who makes all the decisions with having to make this film. What this movie should be; what it’s like; what’s the tone. They are willing to take risks. And I am willing to listen to them and learn as well. So it’s been a really great marriage so far. Throughout the whole thing, it’s been remarkably smooth and certainly easier than my last two movies.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:13940:]](Thanos in Avengers movie)
As far as, here’s the thing. There’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, [which is different than] the 616 universe, which is Marvel Comics, you know proper. And there is the Ultimate Marvel Comics, which are something a little different. And truthfully the Marvel MCU takes elements out of the Marvel Ultimate Universe and the 616 universe, and takes elements from both and recreates elements themselves. And so what Thanos wants in the comics is not necessarily what Thanos wants in the movies. You don’t know what Thanos wants.
James Gunn also let it be known that Guardians of the Galaxy filmed for 84 days, and that the earlier set image thought to be Nova Prime Glenn Close is not Glenn Close, but an extra. He also stated that the other extra is not Zoe Saldana.
Gunn also mentioned that security is tight surrounding the movie, and that Chris Pratt signed on after reading 30 pages. Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper did read the script. Gunn had to convince others to sign on without reading the script because of security.
Says the second Guardians of the Galaxy trailer will even give more of a better idea of what the film is and should be out in two or three months.
On Dave Bautista, who plays Drax:
Dave is just one of my favorite guys. I don’t know if anyone who saw him this year at the Comic-Con knows what he was like and so sincere. He was so moved when we gave me this job that he called me up crying, and he’s just a fantastically sensitive soul. Very deep guy. Great guy.
On the fans:
I think the fans are smarter than people think. And they sense bullsh-t. And not everybody does, but a lot of them do. And by the same token, they sense when something is sincere. And the truth is, I’m a hundred percent sincere about this move. I’ve made independent films that were very personal. And this movie is no less personal than those other films. This is in some ways… This is the dream for me of a lifetime. I have wanted nothing more than to create a space epic throughout my whole life. And I never thought I would ever possibly get the opportunity to do that. One thousand percent never ever thought I was going to get the opportunity.
I think I was engineered by God to make this movie. This is also true, I love raccoons more than anything in the world. I got a raccoon shirt on long before I ever had this movie.
[With Marvel], we were able to create something huge and beautiful and heartfelt, and I think the fans sense that. Now whether or not they like the movie, we’ll find out. But I think they sense we are trying to do something that is absolutely one hundred percent sincere. That I love these characters; that I love this movie, and I’ve put my heart and soul into it, and I think the people around me have as well. And I think they can sense that. Almost for sure they can, and that’s been a really good experience because of that.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has an August 1, 2014 release in the U.S. starring Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana As Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Disel as Groot, Lee Pace as Ronan, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Djimon Houndsou as Korath, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Benicio del Toro as The Collector, John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey and Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael.
For news, images and more head on over to the Cosmic Book News Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Hub.
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits-Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand-with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.