Last September, when director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy was filming outside London, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. While I knew a bit about the diverse characters starring in Marvel’s latest franchise before I arrived, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the size and scope of the movie, or how Gunn and his filmmaking team were preparing to blow open the doors of the Marvel Cosmic universe by introducing tons of new characters and worlds. Trust me, Guardians of the Galaxy is telling a huge story on the other side of the universe and it’s going to enable Marvel to bring in numerous new elements to their already expanding universe.
During the set visit I got to watch filming, participate in group interviews with James Gunn, Dave Batista, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, and many others, and walk through the art department, weapons room, costumes, SFX, and many other behind-the-scenes locations. From all this I put together a huge list of things to know, recorded a video blog when I got back from set, and have five new images from the prison sequence provided by Marvel/Disney. Hit the jump for more.
When I got back from set, the first thing I did was record a video blog with Peter from /Film. It’s almost 30 minutes of us talking about the highlights from our visit and some of the coolest things we learned. It’s also spoiler free. Following the video is the list of things to know.
Note: Everything I’ve written about was from my set visit in September 2013. Things might have changed since this was written.
The makeup is all being done practically and it looked incredible. For Drax the Destroyer it takes a team of 5 makeup artists almost four hours to do the makeup everyday and an hour to take it off. For Nebula it took over four hours to apply.
- By the end of the shoot Dave Batista will have spent 49 days in the makeup chair and 7 of those days will have been fully spent getting his makeup done.
- Everything is grounded in a real world setting even though the story takes place on the other side of the galaxy
- When filming, the production built a practical version of one of Rocket’s guns so the animators could see shadows on the set and the actors to react to something practical in the scene.
- Peter Quill’s gun has a lot of moving parts and lights so it will look great on camera with no CGI added.
- We learned that certain scenes will feature selected characters from the Marvel cosmic universe. They said on set that Guardians will have the most live-action Marvel characters in a movie by a factor of four. Some will be mentioned by name and some in the background. They said fans will have a field day. Every character had to be cleared with Marvel legal.
- James Gunn wants Guardians of the Galaxy to be gritty but he also wants it to be colorful and bright and not derivative of other sci-fi movies of the last few years.
- Gunn is shooting a lot of scenes using long takes.
- There is a fight sequence in the movie involving two characters that they’d practiced for over two months and days before they were set to shoot, James Gunn informed them it wasn’t working and they had to redesign it. When they finally shot it they did it 22 times and it was the last take they got it right. The entire fight was done in one take.
- Joss Whedon suggested that James Gunn add more of his own voice to the script and the night he got that advice, Gunn wrote a seven page scene that’s in the movie. He also added more of his unique voice to the entire script.
- Gunn compares Guardians to a Nirvana song saying it’s slow and quiet and then loud and strong. Then slow and quiet and loud and strong.
- Gunn says they were going to use the Badoon but 20th Century Fox owns the characters.
- We will get a bit on Rocket’s backstory, but we don’t get into the Kree backstory in the film.
- Gunn says the most important thing is the relationship between the characters and they’re not the pieces of shit they thought they were at the beginning of the movie.
- He calls the Collector (Benicio del Toro) the most unique character in the film. Plays a very important supporting character.
- The film will take place in five different places (Morag, Xander, Knowhere, Earth, Kyln)
- Xander is a big and bright world where we meet Groot and Rocket for the first time. It’s also the world where some of the team gets arrested.
- Xander is an almost futuristic Earth located on the other side of the galaxy. It’s where people travel to for safety and it’s the center of the universe on that side of the galaxy.
- Kyln is where we meet Drax for the first time. It’s the name of the prison and where they first team up.
- Morag is a planet we will see in the movie but only as a hologram.
Things to Know
- Some of the things the Collector has in his collection will “definitely” be involved in future Marvel movies. His collection looks like the cubes filled with monsters and creatures in Cabin in the Woods.
- Takes place on at least 5 planets and features hundreds of different alien races.
- The ending battle scene is the biggest in scope of any Marvel movie.
- They shot one day with 300 people in makeup and costumes in the prison sequence and all the outfits were made from scratch.
- The film was shot in anamorphic widescreen. Due to how tall Groot is and how short Rocket is…Gunn had trouble getting both of them in the same shot.
- Gunn shot a scene in a prison which is the longest shot he’s ever done in his career.
- The movie starts with Peter Quill on Earth and how he gets taken.
- The MacGuffin of the movie is the orb from the beginning of the film. There is more to this orb than meets the eye.
- The Dark Aster is Ronan the Accuser’s ship. It’s 3 miles long. The ship is involved in huge action scenes.
- Necrocraft’s are thousands of smaller ships that surround the Dark Aster.
- In the production art that we were shown we saw a picture of Ronan bowing to Thanos.
- Rocket’s warbird vehicle is featured in the movie.
- Guardians might be the funniest movie Marvel has done but it’s grounded in reality with real stakes and danger.
- Peter Quill’s costume has a lot of technology in his clothing. His outfit isn’t just clothing, it’s functional clothing and he’s got an array of gadgets. He’s also a bit of a space cowboy with a laid back vibe and antihero attitude.
- Drax will only wear trousers in the film and he’s also a knife man.
- Sakaaran is the name of the soldiers Ronan brings in. They wear masks and you rarely get to see their faces (they’re disfigured underneath their helmets as they are missing their nose and mouth). One of the really interesting things about this race is they can grow their armor, helmets and even their ships. It’s all organic.
- Gamora is the last of her race after her planet was destroyed.
- The Nova Corps are run by Glenn Close (Nova Commander Rael) and she’s the most powerful woman in the galaxy. John C. Reilly (Rhomann Dey) works for her.
- We might see a member of the Kree in the prison sequence.
- Rocket builds a big weapon that Peter Quill uses in the 3rd act of the movie. It’s like an atomic bomb that works in a small confined area. I believe it’s called a Hadronic Forcer. The bomb is small enough to be stored in a backpack.
- The production built a huge gambling table that is 21 feet long for a scene. It’s like a miniature Greyhound track with roulette. In this version of gambling you’re betting on the animals and the table has steam and flame effects.
- 3D printers were used to help create certain weapons like Rocket’s gun.
- Chris Pratt was working on Parks and Recreation while filming Guardians. NBC and Marvel worked out a deal to let him do the movie by letting him out of a few episodes. He also has flown back and forth a few times and as soon as he wraps he’s back on Parks immediately.
- The only thing Star-Lord has from his childhood on Earth is his walkman and music.
- Kevin Feige has described Star-Lord as Han Solo meets Marty McFly. He leaves Earth when he is 8 or 9.
- Sean Gunn (James Gunn’s brother) played Rocket on set.
- Groot will only say “I am Groot” during the film.
- While some films have a lot of improvisation, the cast said during interviews that there wasn’t much improv on Guardians.
- James Gunn told Chris Pratt not to read the comics after getting cast.
- Pratt said about 10-15% of the script changed from when he first got it to what they ended up filming.
- Zoe Saldana said that she wanted her character to be pretty, which is something she normally doesn’t care about when doing a role.
- It took almost 10 camera tests to find the right color for Gamora.
- Like Pratt, Saldana didn’t read the comics to get ready for the role. She also didn’t watch Star Trek after landing that role so she could make the character her own.
- Saldana called the film a dark comedy and said “we’re the Rolling Stones of the Marvel universe.”
- Drax’s motivation in the film is to avenge the death of his wife and daughter.
- Drax is in four major fight scenes in Guardians.
- A lot of the comic relief in the film has to do with Drax.
- Karen Gillan has an “epic” fight scene with Zoe that she trained 2 months for.
- Nebula (Karen Gillan) is the daughter of Thanos. Her character is on a holy mission to get rid of the weak characters of the universe.
- Gillan said she read Infinity Gauntlet before getting the role.
- Groot can grow and use his limbs. He’s very powerful in the movie.
- Rocket and Groot have a background before the movie starts and Rocket treats Groot like a slave.
SMUFX Artist Facts Copied Off the Door of their Workshop Near Set
- We have taken over 80 life casts for this film.
- We have had over 115 crew members.
- The most on set makeup artists we have had on one day was 56.
- We have run 120 Drax sets. Each one consists of 18 pieces for the body and face.
- It takes a team of 5 makeup artists 3.5 hours to do Drax’s makeup application. By the end of the shoot, Drax would have been on for approximately 49 days and times that by the hours it takes to make him up and that is a total of 7 solid days.
- Over 2,000 humanoid alien moulds have been run. All the pieces are pre-colored to each race (yellow, blue or pink).
- By the end of the shoot SU FX would have done an approximate total of 1250 prosthetic makeup applications.
- It takes one person two days to make a Nebula set that consists of seven pieces. As a group our silicone technicians are making around 20-30 peecs a day so that’s 100-150 a week.
- Nebula has to have her head shaved with a BiC razor every time she is on set.
- In total we have 141 cast, stunts, doubles and crowd. We have seen them all for fittings over the prep and shoot period.
- James Gunn Talks Having More Time, Money, Talent, Marvel Characters and Meeting High Expectations on the Set of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
- Zoe Saldana Talks Being Green for Four Months, Avoiding the Comics, and More on the Set of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
- Karen Gillan Talks Shaving Her Head and Being a Female Villain In a Marvel World on the Set of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
- Dave Bautista Talks Fight Scenes and Finding The Humor in Drax on the Set of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
- Chris Pratt Talks Filming a Massive Prison Sequence, CG Characters, the Comics Influence, and More on the Set of Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY