Following the recent news that Guardians of the Galaxy has become the highest grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office, writer/director James Gunn and brother Sean Gunn (who played pre-motion capture Rocket on set and also appeared in the film as Kraglin), recently took part in a panel at Dragon Con in Atlanta. The brothers were quite candid in answering fans questions and revealed a number of pieces of information not yet explored, including discussing an original semi-R-rated cameo for Stan Lee that Disney vetoed, the inclusion of female characters in the Marvel universe, a bloody extension of Lloyd Kaufman‘s cameo that was excised, and the extent of Sean Gunn’s on-set performance of Rocket Raccoon that ended up on screen. James Gunn also talked about how he’s currently focusing on the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including potential Guardians spinoffs, the status of Thunderbolts, and a lot more.
Hit the jump for my full recap of the Gunn brothers’ panel at Dragon Con.
The panel began with the Brothers Gunn encouraging the audience to shout in unison, “You suck, Rooker!” to poke fun at Michael Rooker (who plays Yondu in Guardians) not being in attendance. James then filmed the audience shouting, “No one likes Rooker” in order to playfully rub salt in the wound. This was then followed by a younger fan asking the brothers what it was like working with one another on the film and how their family chemistry affected their performance on the project? The brothers responded that the chemistry is great between one another and there’s no one either one would want to work with more. Sean then stated jokingly that James’ assistant would hang around him with a stick to hit him on the nose in case he got out of line during any part of the filming. James reiterated that there is no one he trusts more than his brother and he cannot be more thankful that the two have such a great working relationship.
The second question asked was in regards to Marvel’s Thunderbolts, which Gunn had originally stated was one of the projects he had been interested in doing for Marvel Studios. James took this opportunity to launch into his original pitch to Marvel studios. At a convention for comic writer Grant Morrison, rightfully called “Morrisoncon”, Gunn had been asked which comic book properties he would like to make into a major motion picture. The first was a story written by Grant Morrison outside of Marvel called We3 involving a cat, a dog, and a rabbit trying to make their way home, who also happen to be locked into mech suits.
The second was a film which James actually had originally pitched to Marvel Studios before being given Guardians, titled Hit Monkey, a story of an assassin who happens to be a monkey in a business suit. The third being Thunderbolts, which Gunn stated would have to be placed on the backburner, if ever happening at all, so that he could focus on the “cosmic” side of the Marvel movie-scape which included Guardians along with other spinoff films he had rattling around in his head.
The next question asked was about female superheroes within the Marvel universe, whether or not James would be incorporating any of them, and whether he had plans to bring in Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel, into the roster. Gunn stated that he wanted to steer clear of “earthlings” in his side of the Marvel universe, allowing Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) to be the main focus from Earth. While he agreed that more than likely, Carol Danvers would appear sooner rather than later in the Marvel movies, there were plenty of other women in the comic book roster of the Guardians of the Galaxy and he was more than excited to begin introducing them into future films. The plan, according to Gunn, is to introduce new female characters into the world of Guardians as soon as he could.
Following this, a fan asked why it was decided to make Peter Quill into something of a “womanizer”. The brothers responded that in the comic books, Quill was something of an all around “a-hole”, along with the other members of the team, and it was important to retain some of those qualities in the film. It was about focusing on these less than pristine qualities of each of the characters before taking them on the journey that would find them in a different place. After this, a fan asked if Lloyd Kaufman, head of Troma Pictures, who made a cameo in the film and had helped James direct one of his first films, Tromeo and Juliet, would be appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Gunn told the fan that there was in fact a deleted scene for the film in which his mentor was brutally killed in the prison scene early on and more than likely, he would not be appearing in any sequels because of this fact.
The next question was directed towards Sean Gunn, asking if the scenes he filmed as Rocket were replicated in post or if they were filmed from beginning to end. Sean told an anecdote regarding needing to constantly be kneeling in order to be on Rocket’s eye level in terms of interacting with other characters. Gunn then stated that the scenes themselves were filmed from beginning to end and reinforced the fact that he did not perform motion-capture, rather he provided motion reference for the character, which is a different system entirely. The only character in the film who had required motion capture was Josh Brolin’s Thanos wherein the actor provided all the facial movements for the Marvel “big bad”.
Gunn then provided some insight into the music of the film, stating that it had always been a part of the film and was even placed into the script prior to filming. Following this question, a fan asked about the changes to the character of Yondu, who is vastly different between the film version and the comic book version. James said he took inspiration from Marvel’s “Ultimate” comic book line, which took characters from the comic book universe and would place modern spins on each one. Gunn also stated that he planned to change other characters in a similar vein moving forward with sequels and spin-offs. He then talked about how Yondu wasn’t even originally supposed to be in the film, but due to the fact that the third act of the film wasn’t working, the idea to bring in Yondu sprang to his mind as Quill’s mentor and the rest is history.
The brothers were then asked what it was like trying to balance out the humor and seriousness of the film without coming across as campy. They stated that the lynchpin of this was Rocket Raccoon, who they believed to be the heart and soul of the film. Bringing a character such as Rocket to life, and having him be taken seriously, was their test and they wanted to present the character with the idea of being a creation in the vein of Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau. They stated that aside from being such a strange creature, Rocket was the loneliest creature in the universe and the scene early on in the film where Rocket was shown with his shirt off revealing the gruesome experimentations that had been done on him was the most important scene in the film to them.
James then went into a story regarding working with Disney and how he couldn’t believe he was able to get the line referencing Jackson Pollock into the film. This also led into a story about discussions Gunn had with Marvel, going more in-depth into which decisions he won and which he lost. One of the losing battles regarded Stan Lee’s original cameo in the film. Originally, Gunn had planned to have Lee in one of the Collector’s exhibits. Groot would then look at the exhibit aghast, to which Lee would flick off the large tree creature.
Finally, the brothers revealed that they were deep into the writing process of the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy and it was coming along nicely. Considering Guardians’ financial and critical acclaim, this is sure to make a lot of fans extremely happy.