When my 11-year old found out the #GotGVol2Event would put me in a room with James Gunn and Kevin Feige, he picked up the cadence of his speech and talked to me every chance he could get, telling me about the director of Guardians of the Galaxy movies and president of Marvel Studios.
It didn’t prepare me.
We were at the London Hotel. A small, monotone beige room and in walked two ordinary guys.
James Gunn is probably the most enthusiastic man I have encountered. He oozes with energy, smiles often and fills the room with a calm that makes you lean closer.
Here are the things I Learned About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 from Gunn and Feige.
On the Song List and Soundtrack
- The Soundtrack–songs that Meredith Quill might love, is a list of about 500 Songs.
- The song Wham Bam by Silver was a fan suggestion on Twitter
- “You oughta put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy” is the topic most tweeted to Gunn.
- When Gunn presented the outline of the movie with the script, Feige remembers thinking, “Oh, That’s cute. He thinks these songs are going to be in the movie.” Then every. Single. Song. Was in the movie.
- There is a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park ride that is opening soon at California Adventure that features songs that Gunn suggested as well
- Gunn shared that when the original Guardians was screened, the first bit of feedback was, “The Music is Great.“
On that relationship between Gamora and Star-Lord:
Here’s where you learn how you word a question is important. Initially presented as “Chris (Pratt) and Zoe (Saldana‘s) Relationship,” Gunn and Feige wasted no time in running with this and showing his comedic side.
Kevin Feige: “Chris and Zoe’s relationship?”
James Gunn laughs out loud.
Interviewer: “I mean Gamora and Star-Lord.”
James Gunn: “I was gonna say, I do not see that happening. If that’s going on behind my back for the past five years, I would be surprised. Rooker and Pratt? Maybe. A little more believable. Pom and Karen, maybe.”
Once the joke is laughed out of the room, Gunn shares his perspective:
“I don’t think Gamora is a character who would be swept up in the moment by passion, and if she was, I think she would have to deal with the ramifications of that. I don’t think she would be easy on herself about it. What we see between the two of them is such a truer love story. She loves him, and he loves her, but that’s a love that’s based not only on attraction but on a really deep friendship that the two of them have.”
Kevin Feige elevates the conversation with something deeper:
“It’s the difference between a truthful, emotional moment, and a Hollywood moment, and that was very savvy of James to navigate that.”
You may by now, know that the Guardians will be in the upcoming Avengers movie. It’s a complicated dynamic. Read on as Feige and Gunn explain.
Kevin Feige gives a perspective only the president of the Marvel Universe could:
“As with all of the connectivity between our characters on various films, you have to be careful about it. We never want it to just seem like characters are popping their heads out of windows and saying ‘Hello’ and then going back in.”
James Gunn turns up his stand-up comedy:
“It’s a whole movie of Stan Lee cameos.”
Kevin Feige counters with the business insight:
“Believe me, it’d be easier to do it that way, but it wouldn’t be as satisfying. A big role, a small role, regardless of the actual screen time that any single character has it will be very meaningful and very important to the story that we’re telling. Avengers is shooting right now. We’ve already shot a lot of those interactions, and they’re very exciting. It’s very exciting.”
Then Kevin Feige takes on sort of a fanboy stance and asks,
“Who is the voice of Mainframe?”
James Gunn couldn’t wait to share!
“Miley Cyrus. A scoop. That’s a real hot scoop. Miley Cyrus has a cameo in the movie. I’m a hundred percent serious. I was watching The Voice, and I’m thought, ‘She’s so likeable. Her voice is awesome. She’s got the best voice.’ I went in and I said, ‘Kevin, what do you think about casting Miley Cyrus as the voice of Mainframe?‘ He said, ‘I’ll see if we can get her.‘ I got her to do it.”
It’s not just Miley Cyrus who has a cameo, Gunn reveals who else:
“My parents. In that scene, my parents are in it. My brother. My brother’s wife. My two nephews and my niece are all in that scene. I kill a lot of my family members. It’s not quite ‘aww.’ It’s more, ‘grr.’ My parents are credited in the credits as “weird old man” and “weird old man’s mistress.” Which my mom loved. My mom loved it. My mom loves being the mistress.”
He then shares about his relationship with his parents and how they influenced Guardians of the Galaxy.
“I think the first movie really is about a relationship from a mother to her son, and the second movie is about a relationship from a father to a son. They’re all very imperfect characters, but my parents loved me. My parents would be the first to admit it was not the easiest upbringing, but they loved me. I think at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important. I think that’s the point of the movie. These characters love each other, and as hard as it is for them to express it to each other, and even more so with a character like Rocket, who has almost an impossible time taking it in at all–that’s what the movie is about.”
Kevin Feige is known for picking the right directors. He shares how he picks a director.
“There are a lot of meetings, and it’s a leap of faith, to some regard. Alot of it is the vibe–and ‘do we want to spend, in a worst-case-scenario, three-years together, and in a best-case-scenario, ten-years together? Twelve?’ We have a great team at Marvel Studios. In the case of Guardians it was executive producer Jeremy Latcham and now executive producer Jonathan Schwartz who did the first round of meetings. They were the first people James met with and sort of pitched the notion of this weird space movie with raccoons and trees.” He then turns to Gunn and asks, “You were driving home after that meeting?”
It’s Gunn’s cue to share the rest of the story:
“Yes, they pitched the idea to me, and I was driving home after the meeting, and when I said goodbye to them I thought they were making a huge mistake. I kept thinking, ‘You guys have done a great job so far as Marvel, but, you know this is Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers, and you’re going look like idiots.’ I kind of smiled and shook their hand and I went home, and I didn’t really think I was going to take the gig. I didn’t think I was going to pursue it in any way. Then on the way home, it hit me. It really, really hit me, and it was like seeing the first poster in my head on the way home, and I realized what this movie could be, and how it could bring color and heart into a big, franchise film, and create the kind of space opera that I’ve wanted to do my entire life, so that’s how it started.”
Then Gunn shifts gears and begins talking about Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and others who star in Guardians:
“Chris Pratt often gives me a lot of credit, and a lot of gratitude, and he does, he owes me his life. Because, without me, what would he really be doing? …I love Chris, and I think that I’m lucky and that I’m good at casting. I’m able to see something in these actors that maybe somebody else doesn’t see.”
“I’m not sure everybody would have seen in Dave Bautista what I saw, or Pom Klementieff. In the same way, I think Kevin cast me. I gave Chris an opportunity, and Kevin gave me an opportunity. I had all of these very weird web shorts. They saw something in this eclectic stuff that I was doing that could be applied to a mainstream film.”
Kevin Feige is humble, yet also quite the comedian as he talks about choosing Guardians.
“I was working on Iron Man 3 at the time in North Carolina. Gunn flew in and Jeremy and Jonathan said, ‘We think we might’ve found somebody who’s really exciting,’ and Gunn came in with that passion. Clearly he is a great writer, and clearly had done interesting work on a smaller scale. But, just wanting to do a space opera like this your whole life, which, by the way, is the only reason we wanted to do Guardians, is because we wanted to do a space opera our whole lives, and thankfully, it worked.”
Gunn wraps up the interview by sharing that in spite of his success in Hollywood, Guardians was a project that he felt he had to see through. He cared greatly about getting it out there in front of people.
“That honestly had never happened to me before. I had never done it. It was a new experience for me in caring, and it’s so funny because that’s exactly what the Guardians are about. That same thing.”