⇒ CHECK OUT THE SPOILER FILLED Q&A WITH DIRECTOR JAMES GUNN BY CLICKING HERE. ⇐
Guardians of the Galaxy were a relatively unknown Marvel Comics superhero team a few years ago.
After the success of the 2014 sci-fi space adventure film, it wouldn’t be a surprise if moviegoers could now identify each of the Guardians from seeing only their silhouettes.
Recently director James Gunn has been revealing fascinating details on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and answering fan questions on social media.
Here’s a quick Q&A rundown of some interesting tidbits you may have missed. Click on the links to read James Gunn’s full, unedited comments or posts. Please be warned of minor spoilers ahead.
Traditionally in the comics, Star-Lord’s father is J’son, the Emperor of the Spartoi Empire. In Gunn’s movie, Star-Lord’s father is Ego the Living Planet, an ancient and cosmic being, played by Kurt Russell.
Q: Was Ego a hard sell to Marvel or were they happy with the choice?
James Gunn: They were a bit apprehensive when I told them the identity of the father, but honestly overjoyed as soon as they read the screenplay.
Q: What made you pick Ego as Peter Quill’s father instead of J’son or Adam Warlock?
James Gunn: When I came to Marvel, the first Guardians script had a character like J’son, though not named J’son. For me, and for the rest of the guys, it just didn’t work. It was too Star-Warsy with the royalty stuff, and simply too earthy-human instead of cosmic. For many reasons I won’t go into now, I thought Ego helped to round out the character of Peter Quill in a unique, emotional, and cosmic way. I also wanted to humanize and ground a planet in the same way we did a talking raccoon in volume one. I never even considered Adam – one of my favorite characters – as the Dad. I don’t see it.
Q: So Peter Quill’s father is Ego the living planet?
James Gunn: Yeah, his dad is a planet. Sort of. It will all be explained in the film.
But to me, this is the absolute center of Vol. 2, and one of the reasons I’ve been so excited about it. When Marvel first approached me with the first movie, I thought, “Wait a second? A talking raccoon? Isn’t that a rather ridiculous idea to base a movie around?”
It was then that I took a step back and asked myself: Okay, if a raccoon could talk, and shoot a machine gun, how could that be? And answering that question ended up being the entire foundation of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. There was a sadness in the answer. Rocket was an animal experimented upon, torn apart and put back together, without compassion. He was the only being of his type, had never known any hint of kindness, and was utterly and completely alone until he met his fellow Guardians.
Ego seemed, in many ways, like an even more ridiculous character. But I asked myself, if a planet was alive, how could that be? And how could it father a child?
The answers to those questions took me to a far deeper place that I expected. I don’t want to give away too many answers at this time. But what Nova Prime said about Peter’s father at the end of Vol. 1 is certainly true – he is something ancient and unknown. And, as we will discover, being a cosmic being, alone for eons, is perhaps even more lonely than being the universe’s sole talking raccoon.
Q: Why isn’t the identity of Star-Lord’s father a spoiler?
James Gunn: Firstly, we have to advertise our film. And it will be impossible to show you very much of Vol. 2 since Ego is very much a part of all of it. We just don’t have a way around it.
Secondly, there are journalists online who love giving you scoops about characters and plot twists in upcoming films. Ego is such a big part of the movie, this was going to come out soon, as much as we’ve tried to hide it (when our online press day happened on set, Kurt Russell sat in a chair that read “J’son,” and all of our script pages and artwork featuring him used the same name). Frankly, I would rather be in control of the announcement myself than have it come out on SpoilersRUs.com in a few weeks.
That said, knowing who Quill’s father is will not diminish your enjoyment of the film in any way. The story is not built to be a shocking twist in the same way Luke’s father was Darth.
Ego the emotional center of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from the beginning to the end, and is not a twist.
And believe me – there are many, many more surprises we still have in store for you from Vol. 2 – hopefully the biggest of which is how much you’ll love the movie itself. Because, to me, that’s the only twist that matters.
Q: How much of a role does Thanos play in the movie?
James Gunn: He is not in the movie at all.
Q: Are you messing with us?
James Gunn: I’ve never lied to the fans, and never will. Period. If I don’t want to reveal something, I don’t. I don’t mislead or misrepresent, ever. Other filmmakers may, I never will.
Q: How about infinity stone’s showing up in Vol. 2 ?
James Gunn: There will be no Infinity Stones in Vol. 2.
Q: What does new character Mantis look like?
James Gunn: Our look for Mantis is similar to her original look in the comics – she’s the same color as Pom Klementieff, the actress who plays her (i.e not green), and she has antennae. We saw just a tiny little glimpse of her in the Comic-Con footage. More will be coming. She’s been one of my favorite parts of making this film.
Q: Who does Sylvester Stallone play?
James Gunn: YES, SYLVESTER STALLONE IS IN THE FILM.
This was an amazing experience for me, considering I ran around in my backyard as a kid pretending I was Johnny Rambo. Working with Sly was one of the high points of shooting Vol. 2 for me.
Who does he play? Well, I can’t reveal that quite yet… but we do see him interacting with Yondu in the teaser.
Q: I recall hearing that on Groot’s lines there was an explanation of what exactly he was saying, if that is accurate will that, or has that been released somewhere?
James Gunn: There is a script that only Vin Diesel and I had with what he was actually saying when he said “I am Groot.”
Q: Is your brother Sean Gunn still doing stand in work for Rocket as well?
James Gunn: He’s never done stand in work. He’s a motion reference actor for Rocket – which means we use his actions and facial expressions for Rocket’s acting. But yes he still does that.
Q: Why doesn’t Bradley Cooper or Vin Diesel ever press junket with the rest of the cast?
James Gunn: Because they spend a few days working on the film compared to 70 or 80 like these folks here, or years like me. That said, they’ve both been a pretty constant presence this time around, getting updates, and finding out what’s going on. Vin and I are close outside of all this. But Vin hasn’t even started yet!!
Q: The San Diego Comic Con panel was really great to watch. Is it a contractual obligation set by Marvel Studios for directors and actors to appear at these kinds of convention events?
James Gunn: No it is not. We have a certain amount of public appearances we have to make (and usually have to do the press junket), but don’t have to do Comic-Con specifically. We choose to.
Q: What does the box office success of Guardians Vol. 2 mean to you?
James Gunn: When I was young I felt utterly alone, at times to the point of suicidal thoughts. I never felt like I belonged, had an incredibly difficult time connecting to other people and, despite having love around me, I had an impossible time experiencing it, or taking it in.
But I found my respite in popular entertainment – Marvel comics, science fiction and horror films, the music of The Sex Pistols, The Replacements, and Queen. Suddenly I could see past the bland suburbs where I lived into a more magical world, a world more aligned with what I imagined. Sometimes these works were simply escapist fantasies that distracted me from the difficulties of my internal life. But other times, in the strongest moments – maybe through the words of Alice Cooper or Freddie Mercury, through Cronenberg films, or even in Chewbacca’s growl, I experienced something deeper – the realization that I wasn’t completely alone. Someone out there was as weird and strange and whacked out as I was.
So this morning, as the internet discusses box office and its many theories around what that means (zzzzzzzz), I’d like to remember that that’s truly all nonsense and noise. The only meaning the money holds for me is that I can pay my mortgage, feed my dog and cat, and continue making movies. I haven’t worked two and a half years just to watch a string of numbers getting higher.
I work because I like telling stories. I work because I love the relationships I have with my collaborators. And I do it because I like connecting with people, and the easiest way I know how to do that is through filmmaking. I do it so that some kid in Thailand, or England, or Colombia, or Brazil, or Japan, or Russia, or anywhere, can hear the frequency of his or her own heart bouncing back off the Guardians.
They’re a group of heartbroken misfits whose lives have been bereft of tenderness and connection and who have a nearly impossible time trusting themselves or others. But they’re learning, one step at a time.
They are me. They are you. We are Groot.
Thanks to James Gunn for taking the time to answer fan questions. Was there something else you are dying to know? Why not ask James Gunn yourself on his Facebook page, he’s cool like that.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is scheduled for release on May 5, 2017 (USA/Canada).