James Gunn Talks 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Blu-ray Special Features & Marvel's Cinematic Universe

Posted Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 03:00 PM PST by
'Guardians of the Galaxy' on Blu-ry and Blu-ray 3D December 9

Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' arrives on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D December 9th, so the studio invited journalists to the Disney lot for an early preview of the Bonus Materials followed by an energetic Q&A session with the film's co-writer / director, James Gunn.

So, what's on the disc?

All physical home video releases include one Deleted Scene (not sure which one of five) as well as an Exclusive Look at "Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron", a short EPK-style behind-the-scenes look at the making of the next Avengers adventure. That film shot in New York, Italy, South Africa, and South Korea to give the story a more global / epic feel. Writer / director Joss Whedon talks about the new characters coming into the universe. Not much more here than what we already know, but that's okay. We should save all the good surprises for the finished movie. Fans will dig it.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray, there is an Audio Commentary (we did not hear), a Gag Reel (of which we did not see the entire thing), five Deleted Scenes and (at least) four Making-of Featurettes.

The Featurettes, while short, cover everything from world building and design to make up effects to set building to Marvel Easter Eggs to using "intergalactic VFX" to bring two completely CGI charters to life. Mr. Gunn used his brother, Sean, on set to physically act the part of Rocket. Sean, he said, "created" Rocket, and then Bradley Cooper "added to that and created other aspects" of the character. But the fun part is that each featurette begins with an excerpt from a faux 8-bit video game, 'James Gunn Intergalactic Adventurer', where the director himself appears in what looks like a cross between 'Contra' and 'Super Mario Bros.' to help various characters from the movie who then proceed to take the piss out of him. It's a nice package overall, but a little self-congratulatory and too brief. Perhaps the inevitable Phase Two Collector's Set will offer a more in-depth documentary.

Deleted Scenes included:

  • Kyln Will Have to Do -- John C' Reily's Corpsman Dey has a sight gag while learning about the "Kyln" prison.
  • Sisterly Love -- a fight breaks out between Zoe Saldana's Gamora  and her sister, Nebula.
  • No, I'm the Stupid One -- An unfinished scene between Rocket and Groot where Rocket tries to explain why capturing Star Lord is important, but Groot's distracted.
  • Fake Laugh -- The future Guardians take a vote on whether or not Rocket's laugh is real.
  • Dancing Guard -- The Guard with Starlord's Sony Walkman really enjoys it, even while performing his standard duties. 

James Gunn, co-writer/director of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

After the screening, Mr. Gunn returned for a Q&A with all of the journalists. Here is a transcript of the entire session:

James Gunn: Hi, I'm James Gunn. I'll be today's moderator. [laughter] I was just doing a phone interview upstairs and he asked me what was different now than when I was first doing the press junkets. And actually it feels pretty amazing because the whole time I was doing interviews right before the movie came out, it was exciting and energizing, but it was also pretty terrifying. I think I was understanding by then that people really liked the movie, so that part lifted my biggest worry. But we didn't know how the movie was gonna do and all of that stuff, so it's nice to do these interviews and answer questions when I'm not completely terrified.

At what point did you realize [the box office numbers] were exceeding your wildest expectations?

It didn't exceed my wildest expectations. I could have beat James Cameron. [uproarious nerd laughter]. My wildest expectations are yet to be beat! [still laughing]. Well I've got even wilder expectation than... no, no, I'm kidding. You know, there was a moment, I think it was the first day. Tracking said we were supposed to come in at $65M opening weekend, and we started getting our first weekend numbers and it kept getting higher every day. At first it was like, "Oh my God" we're going to be near $80M, and then we're going to be $85M, and we ended up at $94M. This is such a boring anecdote, but I was sitting out by the pool with my dog at my house and I almost got this LSD experience where it wasn't real. It felt like a 'Twilight Zone' episode. It wasn't entirely a good feeling. It was sorta creepy. But it was that moment when I realized, "holy shit, we're doing really well."

Will there ever be a playable version of that 8-bit video game [from the making-of featurettes]?

I think that's just for this, but I wish it could be. I would like to be somebody who jumps over mushrooms and stuff. [laughter]

How much bonus footage did you shoot on set?

We had a guy on set that was shooting footage all the time. So we have tons of stuff that I would like to go through. I just haven't had the time to do that. But I knew we had a lot of bonus footage. And then we have cut scenes and that stuff.

James GunnWhat is your working dynamic with [Marvel President] Kevin Fiege? And how much has the success of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' influenced Phase Three?

My dynamic, at this point, with Kevin is, like, I went in and said "this is what I think we should do in the sequel" and he said "okay" and now I'm off dealing with that. So it's not that dynamic. [laughter] And who knows how much we've influenced Phase Three, but I think the one thing is that The Guardians aren't backseat to The Avengers. Captain America, Thor, those other movies really do support The Avengers and they do take a back seat. But The Guardians are their own thing and the cosmic side of the universe is its own thing. Because the movie was so successful, and more successful than 'Iron Man' was, that changed the way other people looked at it, but I still look at it the same way.

The first film is really weird and strange, but audiences embraced it. How will you be pushing that forward in the sequel?

I don't think about 'Guardians of the Galaxy' as weird because every day I get somebody telling me their eighty-year-old grandmother loved 'Guardians of the Galaxy' so, in some ways, it's different. I think it's unique. But I don't think it's that weird. I actually think it's more accessible to people than a lot of Marvel movies. I think the main thing with moving on is that we can just repeat ourselves. We can't just say, "okay let's start with something sad and shift into something really happy with some music, and let's have the Awesome Mix work in the same way, but with songs from the '80s as opposed to songs from the '70s. And all of those things... that doesn't interest me. For me, the shift is about getting to know the characters on a deeper level, knowing them more intimately, and uncovering facets of the characters that make them more real to us. Because at the center of it, I think what works about 'Guardians' is that people like the characters.

Are you going to be delving into more backstories?

It's not... Yes. [laughter] Looking more deeply into the characters themselves and who they are and what they think and what their flaws are and what their strengths are, you know. They're a much more flawed group than The Avengers. They have major, major issues.

Which of the Deleted Scenes was the last one to be cut?

No, I'm the Stupid One. The one that's Rocket trying to explain to Groot and Groot gets distracted was cut pretty late. That one was cut the latest for sure.

Can you talk about Sisterly Love? That one seems to provide information that the movie doesn't have.

Yeah, that was a hard one. The truth is we had tons of stuff in the first act on the Dark Aster for too long. It does provide information, but it made the movie move slower so we ended up cutting it. There were ones that were cut later that were easier, like that scene with Rocket and Groot, but it didn't even occur to us to cut it until later in the game.

Do you have to think about Phase Three while developing the sequel?

Again, it's just still more important that the Guardians' story is more important than where they're going with anything having to do with the rest of the Marvel Universe. So no, not really.

How much of the world building was done for this movie, and how much was done to save for later?

It's somewhere in between. Some of it was for this movie, but there's a lot of things that are way more thought out than they need to be for this movie. In particular, things like "The Ravagers" were thought out really... I'd say "well thought out" but that's like giving myself a compliment. "Good job, James." [laughter] So there are some things that are really, really in-depth, and The Ravagers culture and how they work is one of them.

Were you thinking beyond 'Guardians' and the whole cosmic side...?

Totally. Very much. I mean, every time I say something, somebody takes it and runs with it. And there was a big rash of "James Gunn is thinking of ideas for 'Guardians of the Galaxy 3'." Well, I don't think I really said that. What I said was, "I had ideas for 'Guardians of the Galaxy 2', I knew what I was going to do for that from the time I was doing the other movie, and I had ideas for beyond that." That doesn't necessarily mean 'Guardians of the Galaxy 3' because there's lots of characters in this movie that go in a lot of different directions. And some of the characters I'm most interested in aren't necessarily Guardians of the Galaxy. 

I was just wondering about Peter Quill's father's origins. In the comics he's slightly different.

His origins are different in the movie. I just thought there was a more interesting way to go for the Cinematic Universe that was more believable. There's things in the comic book that, on film, seemed to come out a little too 'Star Wars' to me. And I'm not a great fan of the name J'son. So there will be a lot of difference. You know, this really is the Cinematic Universe and the fun of it for me, you know I always loved the Marvel Ultimate Comics that presented a different story on the way that we're used to, and we saw characters in a new light and they could show up in different places, different ages, different ways. And I think that's exactly what the Marvel Cinematic Universe is. We see things in a different light. They established that very well at the end of the first 'Iron Man' where Tony Stark says "I am Iron Man." That was like Marvel Cinematic Universe's way of saying "we're different from the comics.

What has it meant to you to have the film resonate so well, emotionally?

It's touching. It's really touching. I really made the movie completely sincerely, and I love the characters. And I'm moved by it still. Every time I watch the movie and see Drax pet Rocket's head I still get teary eyed, honest to God. I love that moment in particular, but, you know, I love the movie, I love the characters, and I love the people I made the movie with. So to have people respond to it on that emotional level, and to have people get what I was going for with the whole movie. After having a career of doing many things I thought were pretty obvious what I was doing with them, and then sometimes people just didn't exactly see them how they were. Being able to get to a point where I feel like I'm able to speak to people clearly through film is a real joy.

James Gunn, co-writer/director of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' with brother, actor Sean GunnMarvel seems to have a plan of where they're going, but it seems like you had a lot of freedom to make the movie you wanted to make. Were you surprised by that?

I really was very, very surprised. Most surprised by things people might think of as basic parts of movies. The fact that when I first wrote the story of what the eventual movie became, I came in with a treatment and I think this what the story should be. At the top of that treatment I had a photograph of a Sony Walkman. I don't know what compelled me to do that, but I think it was stupid. [laughter] Because I think if I did that at most other studios people would be like, "whoah, wait a sec, that should be Saturn." Instead, Kevin just loved that Walkman. He just started talking about the Walkman all the time. To me that's just really the center of where the movie is different. It's that Walkman '70s music next to the Space Opera and just everything I brought to those guys that was the most outlandish stuff was the stuff they embraced the most. And I couldn't believe it.

I remember when I made my first ever movie, 'Tromeo & Juliet', and I was in New York City on the subway everyday. I was still in grad school, and I was like, "oh my God, I can't believe I came up with this idea for this thing and now they're doing it and they're spending $350,000 on it and I couldn't believe it! It's fucking crazy, you know." [laughter] And I got that same feeling on this. I was like, "I can't believe that they're just kinda going with this." I felt like I was tricking everybody. But it worked.

Can you talk about your hand in the music selection and, songs you wanted versus songs you couldn't get.

There was nothing I couldn't get and the songs where one hundred percent chosen by me and only me all throughout the movie. Most of the songs were written into the screenplay. And those that weren't I chose later on. But I never had any fight on the music. I think those guys originally thought of it as temp music, but at our early test screenings people loved the music. So I was really happy with that because I didn't want to end up with the newest Britney Spears song. [laughter] Though I like Britney Spears. [laughter]. So that was the choice with that. I had a very specific type of song I was looking for. A song, for the most part, people might know the music, but they probably wouldn't know the name of the band, they probably didn't know the name of the song itself. But some part of you recognized hearing it at Shakey's Pizza or wherever. And then all of a sudden this song that's been in the background of your life is pushed to the foreground.


Why did you choose Howard the Duck for the after credit scene?

Originally, the tag scene was going to be Baby Dancing Groot and we loved it so much, I think we should put it at the very end of the movie. And we had the rights to the Jackson Five song for Baby Dancing Groot and I liked the way it ended with Peter flying away and playing that song. So that worked well at the very end of the movie, but meant we didn't have a tag scene. And we didn't have a tag scene to connect us to something else, so I found this footage I had of Benicio that I actually shot for the montage at the end, which originally had Nebula and Benicio and Grandpa Quill, but we cut that for a lot of reasons. And I had that footage, and I'm like, "what could he see?" And I started going through it and I'm like, "he could see something in that box. What could he see in that box?" And I don't know if it was me or my editor Fred Raskin who said "Howard the Duck" and we started laughing. Then we told Kevin and he started laughing. He thought it was really funny. So that's really all it was. 


What was it like directing your old boss, Lloyd Kaufman?

Directing Lloyd is always a challenge because he's like the Hiroshima of actors. [laughter] Listen, if you want the acting to be like a background character in Mad Magazine, then Lloyd's a perfect go-to guy. If you want an actual, real human being, Lloyd's a little bit difficult to direct. But he's getting better, actually. It was a pure joy.

You seem to have a really clear vision for the film; was any improv used?

More often than improv, Chris and I would think of things we could put in the script beforehand. Like the 'Footloose' speech is something Chris came into my office one day and says, "I bet he would think that 'Footloose' was like a great legend." I'm like, "yes, and [Quill] could say that to Gamora, and he doesn't even remember the name of the guy. To him the hero is Kevin Bacon all through his childhood." So that was definitely written by me and Chris together beforehand, which isn't improv. It's just me using Chris' writing and taking credit for it. [laughter]. Chris and I have very similar senses of humor and we know how to work of each other. An improv thing was the Jackson Pollock thing. That was that same thing of me and Chris one-upping each other. Chris said the backlight joke and I went over and I said, "say that again, but this time say it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting in here." And we did it again and everybody on set was like, "are you really waisting out time doing this stupid joke that's never going to make it into a Disney movie?" And I'm like "it's funny, to me."


Thanks again to the kind folks at Marvel and Disney for hosting us. Pre-order your copy of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' on Blu-ray or Blu-ray 3D now, or pick one up on December 9. 'Guardians' is also available on Digital HD November 18.

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Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews)
Guardians of the Galaxy - 3D (Blu-ray)
Guardians of the Galaxy (Blu-ray)
Tags: James Gunn, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy (all tags)