Read our interview with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 director James Gunn - and enter our competition to win the film on DVD.
Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the blockbuster sequel featuring the world’s favourite band of intergalactic misfits, blasts into homes on 4K UHD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on the 4th September 2017, and is now available on Digital Download! To celebrate, director, James Gunn shares all the details on what it’s like working with Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell and more!
Q: How did you transition from the success of the first film?
A: I knew where I wanted to go before the first film was successful because I came up with the basic structure of the plot when we were shooting Guardians of the Galaxy. I also knew a lot about the background of Peter Quill and Yondu and all of that while I was writing the first screenplay. So I knew what the general shape of the sequel was going to be.
The thing I was unsure about was whether or not I was going to tell the story of Peter Quill and his father in the sequel, which I thought of as the big reveal. I thought I might save it for a later time. But I ultimately decided that it was the story I wanted to tell now, so that’s what I went with.
Q: What was your reaction to these characters being in the zeitgeist?
A: It’s fulfilling that these characters have spoken to so many people all over the world. From the beginning, Guardians of the Galaxy is about a group of outsiders and I think that’s what the movie speaks to. I hear all the time that the movie connects with a wide array of people and that is what makes the experience really gratifying. Kids tell me they love it, people tell me their grandparents love it. I hear from fans in different countries around the world from Thailand to the UK to South America, etc. and that’s the truly amazing part.
Q: What makes Chris Pratt a great Star-Lord?
A: When I was auditioning Star-Lord the first time around I was looking for somebody who’d come in, do everything that was on the page, do it well, do it in a funny way, but also give that a little something extra that made Peter Quill a little bit of a different character. And Chris came in and did that immediately.
Chris is a very unique movie star in that he is a combination of being a big, masculine guy but also a very vulnerable guy. He has a vulnerability that the classic movie stars hint at, whether it’s Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper. Chris really brings that to life on the screen, and I think that’s what makes him a truly modern-day movie star.
Q: Where do we find Peter Quill?
A: As you know, the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” is about Peter’s relationship to his mother and coming to terms with that. The second movie is about Peter Quill’s relationship to his father and his other fatherly figures. Yondu is obviously a fatherly figure to him. And then he meets his actual father, Ego, played by Kurt Russell, who is in a lot of ways everything he wanted. He is coming to terms with his feelings of abandonment, how he feels about his real father’s life, which is very different from his own, etc.
Q: Set up Ego for us.
A: Peter Quill’s father, Ego, has been looking for him for a very long time. He wants a relationship with his son in the same way Peter wants a relationship with his father. Peter has really wanted a father since he was a child. This goes back to before his mother passed away when he was a child on Earth. He carried around a photograph in his pocket of David Hasselhoff and told the other kids at school that he was his dad. He has that hole in him, which he shows early on to Gamora, as their friendship has grown quite intimate since the last movie. It is that journey to see if Ego can fill that Hasselhoff role or not. That is Peter Quill’s journey in the movie.
Q: What about Quill and Gamora’s relationship?
A: Peter Quill is very clearly in love with Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. She has mixed feelings on the subject. She knows that Peter Quill is basically a good person but in the past he has not been a good significant other to women. He’s a scoundrel, and she sees that. She is not really looking for that type of love in her life. She has been looking for family and she's found that with the Guardians. In the first movie Gamora is in some ways the most elevated of the characters in the film because she knew from the beginning that she was out to stop Ronan and stop people from dying. That was why she did what she did. In this movie she knows that they’re a family and she knows that’s something important to all of them. But she also has certain ways she keeps people at bay and uses those ways to keep Peter at bay. There is a sort of nastiness to her at times. This is something that throughout the film Gamora comes to terms with; not through her relationship with Peter Quill but through her relationship with her sister, Nebula.
Q: Are the characters and their relationships to one another an important part of the movie?
A: Yes. This movie is about all of the characters. The first movie was about becoming a family. This movie is about being a family. And being a family is a lot more difficult than becoming a family. It’s a much more complicated story. In the first movie, a bunch of characters who are outsiders come together. Well, where does that leave them? These people are screwed up. These are very dysfunctional beings, whether they’re humans or aliens.
For example, Rocket was created in a laboratory out of an animal and he’s a guy who is not accustomed to intimacy. And when he gets it, it is completely uncomfortable for him. So he has become a sort of raving maniac by the beginning of the film. He is really just not a great guy, and he has to come to terms with who he is. He does this with Yondu, who in many ways is the future version of Rocket. It’s what Rocket could easily become—completely ostracized from those people around him who try to help him, who love him, from the Guardians.
Q: Talk about Yondu and Michael Rooker.
A: In many ways this story is the story of Peter Quill, his adopted father, which is Yondu, and his biological father, which is Ego. So, the character of Yondu is an extremely important one in the story. We laid a lot of track in the first movie with Yondu and who he was.
I have a fascination with characters like Yondu who are multi-faceted. They’re good in certain ways. They’re bad in certain ways. And Michael Rooker is the best at playing that type of character. You don’t know if he’s going to punch you or if he’s going to hug you. It’s a beautiful thing about who he is as a performer. He brings that life to Yondu, who is crazy but who also has quite a soul, which we saw at the end of the first movie when he was ripped off by Peter Quill. He was proud of him. So this is in a lot of ways the very central relationship of this movie, the relationship of Peter Quill to Yondu. That’s what this movie is about and in many ways at its heart.
Q: Can you talk about the expansion of Gamora’s role?
A: Gamora is surrounded by these idiots, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are making her life very difficult. She loves them. She knows she loves them. She’s aware of that. But then she has one guy, Peter Quill, who’s saying he’s in love with her, which she’s not comfortable with. The boys are fighting constantly, and they’re all a pain. She doesn’t have any female companionship. She’s in a spot, since it’s only a couple months after the first movie, where they’re all having growing pains and sophomoric moments in their relationships. Then she comes face-to-face with Nebula at the beginning of the movie.
For Gamora there’s obviously an emotional part of this. She has a fair amount of spite for her sister. And her sister, Nebula, says she just wants to kill her. And that is where Gamora starts the story. Then she has to go from there.
Q: Where do we find Nebula?
A: At the end of the first movie we see Nebula very distinctly decide that everyone around her is crazy. This is her own reaction to knowing other people. She decides Gamora’s crazy, Ronan’s crazy, Thanos is crazy. We know she hates Thanos. We know she wants to kill Thanos in the first movie. And she just detaches herself from it all. We pick it up when we find her a few months later and life has not been good to her.
She has a crappy claw hand, in replacement of her hand that she had before. She’s in tatters, her clothes are bad, and she’s been caught trying to steal some batteries for money. So she hasn’t done too well for herself. In a way she’s like somebody who’s just moving away from home for the first time and doesn’t have their support base anymore. There was always something about Nebula that’s been like the 13-year-old Goth girl at heart. She’s rebellious and unnecessarily surly at times.
Q: How does Karen Gillan bring Nebula to life in this one?
A: Nebula in the second movie is a much, much larger role than Nebula in the first movie. In the first one, Karen had a few lines and a couple little funny things she had to do, and that was it for Nebula. In this movie she has an incredibly key role. It is as much Nebula’s story as it is Gamora’s story. So, I needed to make sure Karen would actually be fully Nebula in this one. And she brought it. She really, really brought it. She’s an exceptional actress. In real life, Karen is a total goofball. I say “Hello Kitty” off screen, but Clint Eastwood on. When she transforms, it’s instant; she just goes there instantly. It’s a cool thing to see.
Q: Where do we find Drax?
A: I think that we know that Drax is not very good at picking up on social cues. He doesn’t quite understand what everyone around him is talking about all the time. He finds amusement in things that he should not find amusement in. But I think at the beginning of the movie, in a lot of ways, Drax is sort of the happiest member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He finds everything funny but he can be a little bit mean-spirited.
Drax is the only one who really ever had a family. His family was killed by Thanos. But he actually had a family, a wife and a daughter, whom he loved and who loved him. The other characters have never had any family whatsoever. So Drax, in some ways, is the healthiest of the members. But socially, he’s sort of a nightmare. And I think that’s what we love about him, and I think that’s why he speaks to so many different people. His heart is really, truly in the right place.
Q: Has his physical look changed?
A: His makeup on the first movie was obviously a wonderful makeup job. It took four and a half hours to put on. This one takes under two hours to put on. That’s a big difference. It’s a big difference in the look because it tightly adheres to his skin. But it’s also better because Dave Bautista comes to set way more wide-awake. It’s a big difference coming to set after five hours of makeup and coming after two hours of makeup, especially if you have to hang from rigs and do fight scenes for 12 hours straight. It can be very difficult. Our makeup team really came through to recreate this makeup in a way that was more user-friendly.
Q: What about Groot?
A: Baby Groot has many more anger issues than adult Groot. Baby Groot is someone who all the other characters react to in different ways. Drax and Baby Groot don’t get along at all. Drax hates him. Rocket is okay with Groot but yells at him a lot. Gamora definitely has a mother instinct towards Baby Groot and Quill barely acknowledges his existence. They all have a different sort of reaction to what’s basically a child in their midst and how they deal with that.
And Baby Groot wants to prove himself. He wants to be a part of the group, and he learns how to do that throughout the process of the movie. By the end of the movie we see that he is indeed somebody that has some use.
Groot is the only real way that Rocket has grown from the first movie in that he takes care of this little guy that saved his life. He definitely has a different relationship with Groot than he has with the rest of the Guardians, and we see that pretty early on.
Q: Is it fun sharing this experience with your brother?
A: I have worked on a lot of stuff with Sean over the years. He was in my very first movie I ever made. We work exceptionally well together. I think that we get to see Sean really do his thing as Kraglin, which is quite an emotional arc in this one.
Q: What was it like directing and working with Sylvester Stallone?
A: Working with Stallone for me was, frankly, daunting because I used to run around in my back yard as a kid pretending I was Johnny Rambo. Stallone is an iconic part of my childhood. “Rocky” and “Rambo” were really big movies to me as a child. And I must have watched “Rocky” 50 times. So meeting Sly was daunting but great.
Q: Set up Mantis.
A: I like the character Mantis quite a bit in the comics. I always thought she was an interesting character, the celestial Madonna. The act of creating Mantis was a great one as I felt that character quite a bit.
I wanted to add a female character who as goofy and silly and strange as the other male characters, namely Drax and Rocket and Groot, who are all just goofballs. I don’t know what Groot is, a man or a woman really. But, I wanted to have a female character that had that same oddness as those other characters. We auditioned a lot of actresses for that role. We had four actresses screen test and each of them was completely amazing. Pom Klementieff just happened to be the best in terms of being very emotional, which the character has to be. That by her nature is her super power, so to speak. She is an empath.
Q: Music played a big part in the first film. Will it be featured again this time around?
A: Yes, music is just as important. We had Awesome Mix Vol. 1 last time, and this time we have Awesome Mix Vol. 2. It was so important that it’s actually part of the film’s title this time around. As most people know, Quill’s mom made the first tape for a slightly younger boy, and she made the second type for a slightly older boy. So, actually, in many ways the songs reflect the story. The songs are a little bit deeper in some ways; a little bit less pop in some ways. Some of the choices are a bit more eclectic; some of the choices are a bit more popular. But we have a real amazing group of songs that, like in the first movie, I wrote into the script. They are a part of the storytelling. Each song is very specific to the scene where it’s placed.
Q: Will we be seeing new worlds?
A: There are new worlds. We either have brand-new worlds or we get to know some of the worlds that we didn’t get to know much about in the first movie. We get to know the society of the Sovereign—where they come from, what they’re like, what they believe in, what their truths are. We also get to see new worlds like the uninhabited world they crash land on. And of course we get to know Ego’s planet, quite intimately.
In the first movie, I had to be very careful about not knocking people off-balance, and I’m still very careful of that. I don’t want things to be disorienting. But because we now have these grounded characters we know and love, it does allow us to explore some more outlandish places than we did in the first film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Competition - on DVD
To be in with a chance of winning a DVD copy of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, just answer the question below, then email your answer to email@example.com with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Competition in the subject line
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 introduces us to Peter Quill’s father called Ego, but which U.S. actor plays him?
a) David Hasselhoff b) Kurt Russell c) Sylvester Stallone
Terms and conditions 1. Closing date 4pm Friday 15 September. 2. No alternative prize is available
MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2 OUT ON 4K UHD, 3D BLU-RAY™, BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM 4TH SEPTEMBER AND AVAILABLE NOW ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
© Marvel 2017
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.