From Marvel Studios, the highly anticipated sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has more action, more laughs and more heart than the first installment (which already had a lot!), adding intriguing new allies and unexpected new enemies, all while further expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around, the story follows the ragtag team as they protect the universe doing mercenary work for hire around the cosmos, and Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), finally unravels the mysteries of his true parentage.
At a conference during the film’s press day, writer/director James Gunn and Marvel guru Kevin Feige talked about wanting to make a great sequel, the amount of creative freedom they had to make the film, whether they disagreed on anything, the reference point on set for Baby Groot, the film’s portrayal of women, clarification on some of the scenes during the credits, and when we might see Howard the Duck again.
Warning: spoilers are discussed during this interview
Question: James, in coming back to do this second film, was there one thing that you wanted to make sure not to mess up?
JAMES GUNN: I don’t know. I wanted to continue from the first movie. So many sequels are not good. The primary reason, in studying them, seemed to be that so many of them just do the same thing the first movie did, with a different template. They’d be like, “People liked the dance-off in the first movie, so what’s our version of the dance-off?,” or “People liked ‘We are Groot’ in the first movie, so what’s our version of ‘We are Groot’?” Instead of doing that, we really tried to let these characters grow and change. We want to watch them become new and different people, in every film that we come up with. I didn’t want to just try to be a rehash of the first movie. I think people were surprised by the first movie, and people have been surprised by the second movie. I wanted to give people something new and different from what they already had.
Because the first film was such a huge hit, did you feel like you had more freedom on this?
GUNN: The truth is, the great thing about working with all of Marvel, but especially Kevin [Feige], who I have an especially close bond with and who is an incredibly important person in my relationship to film, is that they gave me complete freedom on both movies. On the first movie, I was a lot more timid, frankly. I took my first draft and, on the first film, I went to Kevin, and Joss Whedon was there. There was a lot of humor in there, and I was afraid that I was pushing the comedy and that it was too funny, but Kevin and Joss said, “Make it more James Gunn.” I was like, “Okay, it’s your funeral.” But, people seemed to like that. I’m a little punk rock kid likes edgy stuff and I thought, “What I like may not be what the entire world likes.” But, I’ve come to trust that what I like is what works. The great thing about working with Kevin is that we seem to be very much on the same page with what we like that’s popular and commercial and traditional, and what we like that’s edgy and funny and different. So, yes, I had a lot more freedom on the second movie, but mostly because I just allowed myself to completely go there with the story and not stop myself, at any point, from fear of alienating people. I wanted to be as true to the artistic vision, and especially as true to the characters, as possible in this film.
Was there any joke, line, or scene that you had to fight for?
GUNN: There’s one thing in the movie that I won’t bring up because I may be wrong and Kevin may have been right, but also because I don’t want to embarrass Kevin, if I’m right. But, there was one thing in the movie that we disagreed on. It was only one thing in the whole movie, and Kevin let me have my way. I appreciate that.
KEVIN FEIGE: Good luck guessing what it is!
GUNN: It’s a very small thing. You’ll never guess what it is. It’s a moment in the movie.
What was the reference point on set for Baby Groot?
GUNN: We had a statue of little Groot. We had a nice maquette that we had made and designed beforehand, so we had him around and there were great moments on set. These guys would be acting their butts off and really putting their hearts and souls into it, and then, all of a sudden, Chris would look over at that little guy and go, “Damn it! He’s gonna steal the whole movie!