First, SPOILER ALERT. This post contains spoilers so if you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet, please bookmark this and come back after you have. And, before you get too excited and fall in love with Kevin Feige’s hat, know that it’s not available to purchase. It was made exclusively for the cast and crew. However, I found a few worthy replacements.
Kevin Feige and James Gunn
Being in a room with two geniuses isn’t something easily put into words. A lot of this interview was just listening to them talk to each other. And the fact that they were excited to be with us… maybe the coolest feeling ever.
“And this is my favorite part of making the Guardians movies is meeting with the Mommy Bloggers. That’s not a joke.” –James Gunn
Kevin Feige is the president of Marvel Studios, and James Gunn is the director of all the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Q: James, can you tell us anything about the process of choosing the music for this one?
James Gunn: “Sure. 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. And 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. And–but 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, 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 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’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?’ And I went and I played it, and I’m like, ‘This is a really cool, like, total Seventies pop song that is so different.’ And then I was like, ‘Is this 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. So, I wish I knew who that Twitter person was…”
Kevin Feige then suggested someone find this person. Let the head hunt begin!
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. 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, 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. 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.”
James and Kevin then talked about the importance of these music choices because the movies are built around them. James said that when the first movie was screened to the public, his first bit of feedback was “The music is great.” He said his response was, “Oh. Thank God. Thank God.” Because “if people said ‘the music is weird, we hate it,’ that would have been big trouble… like take out all the jokes. Take out the raccoon. We love it all but the stupid raccoon.”
Q: Jumping into Chris and Zoe’s relationship, it’s slowly unraveling, but we didn’t get the kiss?
Kevin Feige: “Chris and Zoe’s relationship?”
James Gunn: [LAUGHS]
Blogger: “I mean Gamora and Star-Lord.”
James Gunn: “I was gonna say, I do not see that happening. If that’s going on behind my back for the past five years, I would be really surprised. Rooker and Pratt? Maybe. A little more believable. Pom and Karen, maybe.”
We all cracked up. Rooker and Pratt. Hilarious. But after rewording the question correctly, James let us in on the reason behind the lack of physical romance:
James Gunn: “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 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. But it seemed to be… we tried to treat these characters with such respect and such love.
And I don’t think 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. 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. So I think seeing that emotional part of their relationship, is a culmination of what their relationship is in the movie, 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.”
Q: When the Guardians meet the Avengers, how will fitting a whole team dynamic into a supporting role work?
Kevin Feige: “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.”
James Gunn: “It’s a whole movie of Stan Lee cameos.” [LOL]
Kevin Feige: “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. And that film’s shooting right now and we’ve already shot a lot of those interactions, and they’re very–it’s very exciting. It’s very exciting.”
Q: James, the scene with the Ravager captains at the end with Sylvester Stallone and all the other captains–is there a possible storyline there?
James Gunn: “Absolutely, I’m excited about those guys. I love those guys.”
Q: Could that be like, maybe, an early Guardians team…
James Gunn: “Well, they’re based on the original Guardians in the comic books… And 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.’ So we went out and we shot it with Sly and the gang. And Michelle Yeoh–I’m a big fan of, because I’m a big fan of old, Nineties 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 that’s a–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 they–we sign Sly to a ten-picture deal and we do twelve. [LAUGHS] …with a solo Mainframe movie. So who knows?”
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. 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.’ And then I got her to do it.”
Q: Speaking of cameos. Obviously, it’s a family film, your parents were in it too, right?
James Gunn: “Yes. My parents. Well, you know. In that–in that scene, 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.’ No, yeah. That’s my parents. 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. [LAUGHS]”
We’re all very touched by your dedication to your parents.
James Gunn: “Oh, thanks. 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 it was–but they loved me. And 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.”
Q: So, with the introduction of the Zune, and that was hilarious by the way, because I think that’s something everybody forgot about–is there going to be an evolution of the music becoming more Eighties-Nineties?
James Gunn: “Well, it’s not about becoming Eighties-Nineties. I think we’ll have to wait and see exactly what the music is… Y’know, where that Zune came from, and what that Zoon is, and that gives us a different relationship to the music, and what we go forward with.”
Q: Kevin, you are amazing at picking the right directors. How do you do that, how do you pair the directors with the movies?
Kevin Feige: “Well, there are a lot of meetings, and it’s a leap of faith, to some regard. And a lot of it is the vibe–and ‘do we want to spend, you know, in a worst-case scenario, three years together, and in a best-case scenario, ten years together? 12?’ But 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, and they were the first people James met with. And sort of pitched the notion of this weird space movie with raccoons and trees. And as James–what was it? You were driving home after that meeting?”
James Gunn: “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, or that wasn’t being offered the gig, but I didn’t think I was going to pursue it in any way. And then on the way home, it like, it hit me. It really, really hit me, and it was like 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, so that’s how it started.
It’s funny, because I was just talking to somebody, and I think you know, Kevin–you know, Chris Pratt often gives me a lot of credit, and a lot of gratitude, and he does, he owes me his life. Because, without me, what would he really be doing? …I love Chris, and 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.
I’m not sure everybody would have seen in Dave Bautista what I saw, or Pom Klementieff of what I saw. But in the same way, I think Kevin cast me. He–I gave Chris an opportunity, and Kevin gave me an opportunity. And it’s that same thing of seeing, [LAUGHS] I had all of these very weird web shorts. That, you know, my brother went in and he said, ‘I guess you got this job because of whatever these web shorts,’ and they were like, ‘Oh, no, we really like those web shorts,’ you know. So they saw something in this eclectic stuff that I was doing that could be applied to a mainstream film.”
Kevin Feige: “Well, and Slither, and his features, you know, ride a tonal, interesting line, and after that drive home, he came back in and you flew to North Carolina. Where I was working on Iron Man 3 at the time. And Jeremy and Jonathan were like, ‘We think we might’ve found somebody who’s really exciting,’ and he came in with that passion. And clearly he was a great writer, and clearly had done interesting work on a smaller scale. But, just wanting to do a space opera like this your whole life, which, by the way, is the only reason we wanted to do Guardians, is because we wanted to do a space opera our whole lives, and thankfully, it worked.
James Gunn: “Yeah, and also, if you remember, I storyboarded the whole opening action sequence.”
Kevin Feige: “Which I went back and looked at recently.”
James Gunn: “Oh, really? Oh, I want to see it.
…I wanted them to know that I was a camera guy. I’m a visual guy. I wanted to be able to–because I’d been very harnessed by lower budgets before, in terms of what I was able to shoot. And I wanted them to know that I knew how to put a scene together. And so I drew my own storyboards, and did this stuff, and put together a large packet about visual references. I put together actors who I thought would be right for the roles. My number one choice for Gamora was Zoe Saldana, who is on that list. And so a lot of this stuff all came from that meeting. It’s weird. In the first Guardians movie, the Guardians say, you know, ‘Maybe it’s time to actually give a shit about something.’
And this is being completely honest.
It’s like, 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, and you know, I’m very lazy.’ And so I was like, I never–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. That same thing.”
Check out all our cast interview:
Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Kurt Russell as Ego
Nebula, Mantis, and Ayesha
Dave Bautista as Drax
Michael Rooker as Yondu and Sean Gunn as Kraglin (coming soon)
What it was like at the World Premiere