Feige adds, “I took a lot of joy in pitching that to people who had never heard of it. But it took a huge leap forward when we hired James Gunn, who initially wondered what we were talking about, and then drove home and thought about it more and tapped into his love of these kinds of movies, his love of little animals and his love of characters.”
When they met again, Gunn was 100% on board with the project. “He rewrote the script, did a new outline and added some songs,” Feige recalls. “And we knew we had something even more special than we were anticipating, and the audience responded to that. The film came out and was the success that it was. It was great because that really proves the point of you don’t have to have ever read any of these comics. You don’t have to even ever have heard of any of these comics.”
Feige was convinced that “if we deliver the movie, that’s all that matters. We knew even before the film came out that we were feeling very good about it and that the buzz was very good. And we knew the film delivered.”
When the uniquely creative and original film was released in the summer of 2014, “Guardians of the Galaxy” became a worldwide box-office sensation, with audiences warmly embracing the eccentric cast of intergalactic characters.
Pop Culture Zeitgeist
Writer-director James Gunn recalls his reaction to seeing the characters being propelled into the pop-culture zeitgeist. “It was truly gratifying and fulfilling that the Guardians’ characters spoke so profoundly to so many people all over the world,” says Gunn. “At the core of the film, the Guardians are a group of outsiders who come together and find a way to make it work. I think that’s what speaks to such a wide array of people. It’s a great feeling when kids come up and say they loved the film and that their parents and grandparents loved it as well. These characters were able to connect to all generations around the world from Thailand to South America to London.”
Postproduction on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” helped to provide director James Gunn with the roadmap to find the story in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” particularly when it came to audience reactions during screenings. The way audiences responded to the different elements of the first movie gave filmmakers a leg up in terms of story direction for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
“I knew where I wanted the story to go before the first film was out in theaters,” explains writer/director James Gunn. “I knew what the general shape of the sequel was going to be, but the one thing I had to figure out was if I was going to tell the story of Peter Quill and his father as Volume 2, which I thought was the big reveal or save it for a later time. Ultimately I decided that it was the best story I have in hand right now and went with.”
The “Guardians of the Galaxy” successfully introduced the world to an eccentric group of selfish, self-interested, un-superhero like characters who are thrown together with the task of saving the entire galaxy. For “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” director James Gunn was tasked with delivering a story that continued not just their exploits, but their evolutions as characters
as well. When Gunn delivered his initial treatment for the story, it was a hit with his fellow filmmakers.
“What I loved about James’ vision for the film was that it was everything you love about the film—the characters, the humor, the action, the music—but it also evolved the story and franchise in a really interesting way that felt completely organic,” says executive producer Jonathan Schwartz. “Every character is a different person at the end of the story than they are at the beginning. So keeping the characters moving forward keeps the franchise moving forward in a really honest way which is what made it really interesting to us.”
“I think one of the big advantages that James had the second time around was that he could write the script specifically for all of the actors’ voices,” adds executive producer Nikolas Korda. “On most films you are not sure who is going play what when the script is in the development phase. Going into this film we knew almost all the characters’ voices and rhythms, what worked and what didn’t in the first film. So that really allowed James to dial the story in very early on and play to the strengths of all the actors in the film.”
And now what can fans expect from the highly anticipated sequel’s storyline? Producer Kevin Feige gives some hints: “When we started turning the wheels on a sequel, there were some very obvious clues at the end of the first film where the storyline could go. Peter talks about his father. Glenn Close, Nova Prime, tells us something very ancient, very unusual. Yondu tells us that he purposefully did not deliver Peter to his father. So James went back and started to work on where that would take us in a storyline. And it takes us to a place where we meet the Guardians only a few months after the events of Guardians 1.
“We meet them in the midst of a job, and we introduce some new villains. And more importantly we introduce some new heroes, most importantly Mantis, who is an amazing new addition to the Guardians. Returning characters Yondu and Nebula play surprising new roles in the film, and we continue to deepen the relationship between Peter Quill and Gamora, which we’ll see more of.
“Also we further the evolution of Rocket, who is not the nicest raccoon around, but who certainly has a begrudging loyalty to his team. Then we meet a new version of our beloved Groot who has crawled out of the little pot that we saw him dancing in in the first film and now is our new Baby Groot for this film,” Feige concludes.
As the cast returns to inhabit the colorful, unique, dysfunctional Guardians characters, there is a new dynamic. The first movie was about becoming a family and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” focuses on being a family.
As James Gunn explains, “This movie is about all of the characters 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 are outsiders. They come together. But where does that leave them?”
And that’s exactly what audiences will discover as the characters’ relationships unfold, starting with Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, who faces a family issue that he is compelled to resolve—his true parentage.