With director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy opening August 1st, over the weekend, Marvel and Disney held a huge press junket here in Los Angeles. While I’ll be posting my video interviews with the cast next week, I wanted to share my exclusive interview with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige today. During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about making Guardians of the Galaxy, how much of the film was planned before James Gunn signed on, the great soundtrack, deleted scenes, whether we could see an extended cut in theaters before the Blu-ray release, and more.
In addition, we also talked about casting Josh Brolin as Thanos and if he signed a multi-picture deal, why they didn’t show the post-credits scene at the press screenings, the untitled Marvel movies being released through 2019, the studio’s Comic-Con plans, the fact that Marvel knows who will be playing Doctor Strange but the contract isn’t signed yet (if the person does sign by Comic-Con he’ll be announced on Saturday), the status of Thor 3 and Captain America 3, the chances Robert Downey Jr. returning for Iron Man 4, and more. Hit the jump for the interview and click here to read some going tweets about Guardians of the Galaxy.
KEVIN FEIGE: I think the best movies are like that, when the characters aren’t commenting every five seconds. In our story, Peter Quill has been in this, traversing the galaxy for twenty-six years—for almost thirty years. He’s not gonna comment on everything he sees—even something as crazy as Rocket and Groot. The craziest thing about Groot is that he only says, “I am Groot.” No one ever comments on the fact that he’s this giant tree walking around. I guess Peter does comment on Rocket looking like a raccoon, to which Rocket says, “What’s a raccoon?” Because he has no idea. But we always said that we wanted the characters to play.
When we were casting Rocket and coming up with who we liked to approach, we kept saying, “Whoever plays it, can’t play it like he’s an animated character. Can’t play it like he knows he’s an animated character.” That’s what’s so amazing about Bradley, is that he’s made a character. Bradley could’ve played that role and you’d buy it.
What James Gunn brought, which is so impressive and so smart is, for as out there as all the characters are and all the worlds are, because Peter is a human—which James didn’t bring to it, that was inherit in the story. As a human from Earth, his references are from Earth, his pop culture knowledge is from Earth of a particular period when he was a kid here. But the notion of the Walkman, the notion of that mix tape that has a significance in the story but at the same time provides a literal soundtrack to the movie, which helps anchor it for people who could care less or perhaps are even turned off, “I don’t know these people. I don’t wanna know these people.” For people who are turned off by the notion of a space movie or a space opera.
I think you’re very right about that. The soundtrack from Earth does ground everything you’re seeing. The music is a huge part of the movie. The Jackson 5 song is pure happiness no matter what. Was it tough to get that song?
When you met with James for this, how much did you guys have the story figured out and then say to James, “Hey, this is what we’re thinking. What do you think?” For example, the McGuffin being the orb, the third act big action sequence, Ronan. Was that stuff you guys had figured out?
FEIGE: Much of it had been—at least the bones of it had been in Nicole Perlman’s draft, in some of the additional material that we had after that, that we talked with him about. The character lineup was essentially the same and the overall structure was kind of the same. I can’t remember now exactly what it was. The Walkman certainly was James, all of the story and the dialogue that you see now in the actual movies is James.
I think in the early draft, all the Guardians encounter each other for the first time in the prison as opposed to them encountering each other in the Xandar-Mall which led to them going to the prison, which was a James plus. Thanos and Ronan’s roles were altered somewhat over the course of it, as James did. Yondu was all James, the backstory of Peter having been raised essentially by Yondu and the Ravagers was all James.
Mr. Gunn told me today that there’s a lot of deleted scenes and he actually would like to possibly do an extended cut. How do you feel about that?
FEIGE: Well, there are deleted scenes. I think we basically went through them recently for the Blu-ray together and said, “They’re all cool. They’re all worth seeing the light of day. It was all smart to have them not be in the body of the film.” Whether they’re presented in a quote-in-quote extended cut or in a sidebar of deleted scenes, I’m not sure exactly. We can play with it. But what’s good is even if there’s a great scene in and of itself or by itself, you have these kind of characters and this kind you dynamic, they’re all fun. It’s all fun. It’s about the actual body of the movie. There’s one thing in particular that was another song actually. I think the only song that James originally scripted that has fallen out of the movie because the little sequence it was a part of has fallen out is a really great, fun sequence that hurt the experience of the movie when it was in.
Have you guys ever thought of doing an extended version in theaters with the deleted scenes for fans to see on the big screen? Maybe a week before the Blu-ray’s gonna come out?
FEIGE: We haven’t but I think as film technology gets to a point where you could just do something like that in a room like this and digitally send it to theaters for a week and the cost of distribution isn’t that high, maybe we could start doing things like that.
I think a lot of fans would go see it again with deleted scenes in the theater experience.
You got Josh Brolin for Thanos. Was it tough to get him? Talk a little bit about landing him for the role and why you chose him.
FEIGE: We knew he was going to be in this movie. We wanted somebody to be more than just the voice. Josh did the performance as well. We were looking at a wish list of, “Wouldn’t it be great if names,” and his name was on it. And you look at his face and the performances he gives, he could be Thanos without any effects. He has that kind of face and that kind of gravitas to it.
We reached out to him and it was one of those things that does not happen all the time but when it does it’s very nice, where he was totally intrigued. He was a fan of what we did, he met with Jeremy Latcham in a hotel in London and learned about the characters a little bit. I spoke to him on the phone a few times. We ran it by James who loved it, ran it by Joss who loved it because Thanos is in this universe because of Avengers. Then we shot him and recorded for it.
When you signed Josh for Thanos, I’m assuming he had to sign a multi-picture deal.
FEIGE: Usually people do, yes.
Right now, we did not see the Easter egg that’s gonna be at the end of the credits of Guardians. Was it because the scene is not done yet or is it because you don’t want people to know until opening day?
FEIGE: It is done and it always varies. There’s no rhyme or reason, necessarily. Sometimes there are things that I think are just more fun to be discovered by the people. The normal people, not fancy pants like yourself who see it early and complain is not in IMAX—but to have a surprise on opening night. And it does vary, sometimes it’s because it’s not ready, sometimes we include it and sometimes we hold it back. We just decided it’d be fun to hold this one back.
You guys announced five untitled movies through 2019. Do you know what the movies are and it’s just a question of when you announce them?
Will fans at Comic-Con in a few days, Saturday night at 6 o’clock, hear about some of the Phase 3 movies that have not yet been announced?
FEIGE: Maybe. That’s me being less sly than you think or less coy than you think.
Sure, so it’s a question of, if contracts get signed before Saturday. I understand, Sir. Jumping into status of Thor 3 and Captain America 3.
FEIGE: Both in development, both in the works. Cap has already been announced, so that’s up first. That’s in a further stage. Thor is being outlined right now, so both in the works.
So, no announcement at Comic-Con in terms of who’s playing him? Or that’s one of those contracts?
I understand. On Twitter, a lot of people said, now that we’ve gone to Asgard for Thor and outer space for Guardians, can we go to Africa for Black Panther or can we get a female-led superhero movie in the near future?
FEIGE: I think we could, it’s a matter of when. It’s a matter of what are those dates, it’s a matter of juggling multiple, successful franchises. Is there a downside to managing multiple, successful franchises? I believe we’re figuring out that there is, which is having the time to do them all. So, at what point do we hold back a franchise or have three or four years between parts of a franchise in order to introduce new ones? Or do you introduce new ones within the body of the films? We’re looking at all those things right now.
Is it safe to assume now that because of Disney and the success you’ve been having in the PG/PG-13 arena, that an R-rated Marvel movie is not gonna happen?
FEIGE: It’s only PG-13, we’ve never done a PG movie.
I think a lot of fans want to know, is it possible to make a 30 million dollar, lower budget Marvel movie that has an R rating? Or is it something that you guys aren’t interested in?
FEIGE: It’s not about not being interested in it, it’s about looking at the market place and looking at the kind of movies that are working right now. And that it seems like perhaps a 150 plus million dollar movie is a better sell right now than a 30 million dollar movie. Also, I would say that when you look at what’s happening in television right now, in all of television but also particularly the Marvel television division, with the success of the S.H.I.E.L.D. show on ABC… [James Gunn crashes interview].
I was saying, when Guardians comes out, is it possible to do a one week re-release in theaters that’s with the deleted scenes for fans?
FEIGE: You would put the deleted scenes back in the movie, is that it?
We were talking about an extended cut.
JAMES GUNN: I don’t want to stop making the movie. You know that that’s true. I want to go back and redo a couple shots too. There’s a lot of things I want to do.
FEIGE: That’s in twenty years for the special edition.
GUNN: I actually think it would be fun to do a version with some deleted scenes. I think it’d be cool.
Personally, I think the best thing is the week before it’s coming to Blu-ray, you do a one-week re-release in theaters with like 10 minutes of deleted scenes. And you tell people, they can get it on Blu-ray or they can come to the theater.
GUNN: The thing about this movie that’s the most interesting in terms of the deleted scenes compared to other movies I’ve worked on, is on other movies we deleted scenes because they didn’t work, we changed something about them. In this one, we have a few deleted scenes that are really good in and of themselves. They slow down the pace of the movie a little bit but you can easily believe that those are things that happened off camera. So, it’s like they don’t contradict the rest of the movie. There’s some really cool moments. That’s what I really like about the deleted scenes.
FEIGE: That’s true.
Have you talked to Mr. Downey about a possible Iron Man 4? What’s the status? Or is it just Avengers for Robert?
FEIGE: Of course anything’s a possibility. Who the heck knows? We have a lot of work to go to finish Avengers 2. We have a lot of work for whatever Avengers 3 is, that’s all folks need to know. Who knows what happens after that.
What can you tease people about Avengers 2?
FEIGE: We’ll talk in a week from now.
GUNN: Hulk full frontal.