So what was it like to actually make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2? Well a few weeks ago I had the chance to chat with the cast, Director James Gunn, and Producer Kevin Feige to get a few insights that were #Awesome.
James Gunn had the Creative Freedom to “Go There”
With the success of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it begged the question, “Did James Gunn have greater creative freedom going into Volume 2?” His answer might not be what you think. As he explained, going into the first film he felt somewhat timid when bringing in his first draft of the film to Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon. “There was a lot of humor in there,” he said, “and I was afraid that I was pushing the comedy, that it was too funny.” To his surprise, their reaction was just the opposite. Both Feige and Whedon told him to take his script and “make it more ‘James Gunn’!” to which Gunn jokingly responded “Okay, it’s your funeral.” So when it came to the second film, in a lot of ways he did have a lot more freedom, but it was freedom from himself which allowed him to completely “go there” with the story and the characters.
Being Shirtless is Serious Business
It’s a well-known fact that Chris Pratt got a very positive reaction to his shirtless body in first film. So it comes as no surprise that he would be showing off his naked torso once again in volume 2. We can all thank Michael Rooker, who plays Yondu, for that since, as he joked, “he was the one who requested it.” But being shirtless is serious business and more than just a gratuitous display of hunk. As James Gunn pointed out, “we kind of take the Marvel shirtless sexy scene, and right when you think [Peter Quill’s] being very sexy, he’s smelling the armpits of an old shirt to see if it’s okay to wear.” So a shirtless Chris Pratt is not only an opportunity to make a joke, but also reveal something about the character. To that, Chris Pratt made a counter argument for the film’s greatest shirtless scene. He awarded that title to Michael Rooker in the scene where we see Yondu for the first time. Through a series of “wordless pictures,” Chris explains, is “beautiful moment [where] this film transcends the genre.” In Yondu’s shirtless scene, Chris continues, we see him “hurting inside. He’s lonely…he’s vulnerable, and then immediately [the film] cuts to him walking in, fully clothed with his Ravagers behind him and this sense of power. But because you saw him [shirtless] you know what’s going on inside of his mind, and that pathos carries the entire arc for Yondu through the whole movie.” Being shirtless in a Guardian’s film is much more poignant than what one might expect.
Make-Up is Transformative
With all the CGI technology that exists in filmmaking, you might find it surprising that very little was done to age-down Kurt Russell. The real trickery came at the hands of Dennis Liddiard who’s been doing Russell’s makeup for 28 movies. Without divulging any of his tricks, Kurt said that there’s a lot that goes into aging someone down. “You have to create an impression, not an image,” he said. Those techniques paired with modern technology creates a much more natural look. A lot of time was also put into creating the makeup looks for Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Pom Klementieff’s Mantis; each actress boasted about spending four hours in the makeup chair. And as for Karen Gillan, who plays Nebula, her time spent in the makeup chair had become a sort of ritual. She recalled a rehearsal where she wasn’t wearing any of Nebula’s makeup and how she just didn’t feel like her character. So now it’s an imperative part of the process.
Bonus – Easter Eggs!
Lastly, Kevin Feige provided some clarification on the identities of the characters surrounding Sylvester Stallone’s character Stakar Ogord aka Star Hawk during one of the post-credit scenes. For the avid comic book reader of the 1990s, they will certainly recognize that this other ragtag group is none other than the original Guardians of the Galaxy from the 90s series run of comics. With the connection being Yondu, who was apart of this team, the group also features Charlie 27, Aleta Ogord (the female Star Hawk), Martinex, and Mainframe. As for the identify of who provided the uncredited voice for Mainframe…let’s just say “she came in like a wrecking ball.”