BAM! POW! ZAP! Is thinking BIG this week: BIG as in cosmic, as the Guardians of the Galaxy director fills us in on getting up to hyperspeed for the film; and BIG as in giant robots fighting giant monsters, as Pacific Rim’s screenwriter reveals how he has more stories in mind.
The Guardians’ Guardian: James Gunn
Until Guardians of the Galaxy was announced as one of the major films in Marvel Studios’ Phase Two lineup, the galaxy-roving supergroup wasn’t exactly a marquee name in the comic book cosmos. This sent the film’s director and uber comic book nerd James Gunn delving deep into his long boxes to bone up on the heroes. “Oh, I had to do research because I'm very stupid,” Gunn laughs. “I don't have a very good memory.”
“I had read, I think, most of the Guardians books,” says Gunn. “I was more up to speed on the [comics writers Dan] Abnett [and Andy] Lanning stuff. I had to go back and remind myself. I read a lot of the '90s stuff when it was out, but I had forgotten it by the time this came along.”
Despite the Guardians’ unique cachet as superheroes in a Star Wars vein, Gunn knew that any take he brought to a Marvel property would come with its own charms. “At the risk of sounding pompous, because it's going to be filtered through me, it's going to be its own thing no matter what,” says the director. “But I think it was a chance to do something that really could make people feel like I felt when I was a young kid and saw these big spectacular space epics and give them something of that. And that was an exciting thing to be able to do.”
Gunn is hoping that much of his film’s fresh feel will emanate from its quirky casting choices – among them, WWE star Dave Bautista as Drax, Benicio Del Toro as the Collector, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as the respective voices of Rocket and Groot. Key to that approach was tapping sitcom star Chris Pratt to play the Guardians’ put-upon leader, Star Lord Peter Quill – a choice that seemed to die-hard fans as both left field and somehow perfect.
“I was not willing to settle for second best,” says Gunn. “We auditioned many, many actors, and a lot of big actors who came in and tried to get the role of Peter Quill, and we tested over two dozen people. And none of them were right. It just didn't feel right in my gut, and I always follow my gut. And Chris came in. He was pretty heavy at the time, and he read. But within about 30 seconds of him reading, I looked back at the casting director and I was like, ‘What the--? This is the greatest thing ever!’ I mean, I knew he was it."
Gunn admits he’s pretty keen on owning the cosmic corner of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and helping launch more franchises within the franchise. “I want to lay down the rules, I want to start it – I would love to be able to see it grow into other things,” he says. “I love talking about all the other filmmakers, sitting around with the producer pitching ideas for other filmmakers to take on future Marvel projects. It's a great thing to be a part of. And I don't think it's for everybody, but the truth is for me being able to sort of create this movie is a dream come true and just been a great experience.”
Pacific Rim 2: More Epic Monster-vs.-Robot Smackdowns, Please
Easily the most thrilling and satisfying sci-fi epic of 2013, director Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was nevertheless overlooked by a few too many moviegoers at the U.S. box office, leaving hopes of a second epic throwdown between Kaiju and Jaeger warriors (that’s giant monsters and giant robots to the uninitiated) in limbo. But now that the film’s hit home video, here’s to urging those who missed out the first time to jump on the bandwagon and build momentum for a sequel. After all, the filmmakers haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
I feel like I could go my whole career and never do anything that I love quite as much as this movie – I’m over the moon for it,” the film’s screenwriter Travis Beacham told us. “I come at it as such a fan – not just a writer but a fan of [the genre]. And the same way that Star Wars fans or fans of anything get super into the universe, and ask questions about what are the characters doing after the end credits, I think that’s the same way I felt about Pacific Rim from the beginning. As soon as I got to the last page I was like ‘And then what? What happens next?’ So I think for a while now both me and Guillermo have been thinking of sequel ideas in some form or another.”
Are you stoked for Guardians? Would you like to see another Pacific Rim? Sound off below.
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