James Gunn and Kevin Feige talk Marvel, Guardians, and Miley Cyrus
Our last interview during the Guardians of the Galaxy press event was with director James Gunn and President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige. We sat down with the pair to talk about the film and what’s next for Guardians and try to get the scoop on other Marvel projects. These guys though sure know how to keep a secret though, we couldn’t get them to spill much but they did share a few gems with us.
The pair walked into the room and James Gunn immediately declared that this was his favorite part of the press for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, is talking with the mommy bloggers. I remember for our set visit he stopped filming just to sit with us for a few minutes to talk about the film and thank us for visiting set that day. We jumped right in talking to the pair about the film and our first attempt and getting the scoop came with a question about one of the end scene credits featuring Ayesha where she talks about Adam. When we asked to learn more, Gunn responded by simply saying “you’ll see him in the future.” No clues on when or where but he’s coming.
Our next question was about the music that Gunn selected for the film. The music is just as popular as the movie itself. It has it’s own fans and following so we wanted to learn about the process of how he chooses these songs.
James Gunn: Sure. I mean, you know, listen. I have a list of about 500 songs, which I think of as, like, Guardians-type songs that Meredith Quill might really love. And when I’m going through and I’m writing the script, I put the songs into the script where they seem to fit. And sometimes I don’t have a song that seems right on that list, and so I have to go out and search, and listen to a bunch of stuff, and see what I like, you know. And — but eventually it’s all basically baked into the organic story of what’s happening in a movie, in the same way you put, you know, sugar in a cake.
But there was one song that came from Twitter. There’s nothing I get more tweets about than “you oughta put this song in Guardians of the Galaxy.” But those are the nice ones. The mean ones were, “If you don’t put this song in Guardian of the Galaxy, I’ll never talk to you again.” I’m like, “Okay, don’t talk to me.” And they’re always songs that I know really well, ’cause I’ve studied my Seventies music, especially since starting on this series, and somebody sent this song by this band called Silver, called “Wham Bam.”
And I’m like, “What is that song?” And I went and I played it, and I’m like, “This is a really cool, like, total Seventies pop song that is so different.” And then I was like, “Is this, like, a fake song?” I thought it was a modern band with, like, a retro vibe. Had to go and do some research on it, and found out that it really existed, and then I put it in the movie. So, I wish I knew who that Twitter person was.
Feige chimed in adding that a lot of screenwriters put song suggestions into the script, and almost none of them end up in the movies. He shared why he’s given Gunn the freedom to pick his own songs.
Kevin Feige: What’s so amazing, and it was like this on the first one, and held to it on the second one, a lot of screenwriters put song suggestions into their scripts, and almost none of those songs end up in the actual movie. And when James did that, I think even maybe on an outline in the first movie, and certainly in an outline on the second movie. On the first one, it was like, “Oh, that’s cute. He thinks these songs are gonna be in the movie. We’ll see.” Every single song. It’s not just the movie. But what’s perfect for the movie. And then on part two, I knew better.
So, I would listen to the song as I’m reading the outline, and then later the script. And that sort of pool of songs that he has comes in handy. There’s a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park ride that is opening soon at California Adventure that features songs that James suggested as well, and a few other places coming up in the future.
IF you’re planning to visit Disneyland be sure to check out the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride and listen to the music. Songs included in the ride were chosen by Gunn, Feige, and the Guardians family. After telling us about the songs and Gun shared about his process and how he creates a treatment for his films.
When I write I probably gave you the music with the treatments. So, I write a very in-depth treatment. It ends up being about 70 pages long. That number’s a little bit high because I put a bunch of photographs in there things that make us know what the feel of things are.
But it’s more like a 55-page draft. But it goes very much in depth, in the dialogue, every beat of the story, what’s happening. I like to do that first. I have a disk that I give to the four, five people that read that treatment, and that disk has all of the songs on it that are in the movie.
We started to talk about the relationship with Star-Lord and Gamora, and how we didn’t see them kiss in the film. He shared with us why he decided to keep things the way it currently is.
JG: Well, this is a spoiler, so be careful with the way you guys release this stuff. But at the end of the movie we have a moment between the two of them, where I think something is acknowledged. And Zoe and I actually talked about this for a long time last night at the premiere, at the party after the premiere, and there was a time when we had a lot of discussion and talked about having a kiss in the movie. But it seemed to be…we tried to treat these characters with such respect and such love.
And I don’t think that 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. And so I think at the end what we see between the two of them is such a truer love story. Where she loves him, and he loves her, and she acknowledges that at the end of the movie, but that’s a love that’s based not only on attraction but on a really deep friendship that the two of them have.
A partnership that we see at the beginning of the movie. That they’ve changed a great deal. At the beginning of the movie, they’re great friends. She’s a great support to him when he’s, you know, making this decision, and he respects and loves her. And so I think seeing that emotional part of their movie, er, of their relationship, is a culmination of what their relationship is in the movie, is more powerful than seeing a kiss that is romantic and would make us feel happy and feel good, but wouldn’t be as true.
Next we talked with the pair about how the Guardians would fit into the Avengers since it’s they are going to appear in one of the upcoming Avengers films.
KF: Well. I mean, as with all of the connectivity between our characters on various films, you have to be careful about it. I mean, we never want it to just seem like characters are popping their heads out of windows and saying “Hello” and then going back in. Believe me, it’d be easier to do it that way, but it wouldn’t be as satisfying. So a big role, a small role, regardless of the actual screen time that any single character has, and I think you’ve seen this in the Avengers films, and in Civil War last year, it’ll be very meaningful and very important to the story that we’re telling.
And that film’s shooting right now and we’ve already shot a lot of those interactions, and it’s very exciting.
You know with all Marvel films you have to sit through the credits. It’s no different for this film. There are five end scene credits at the end of the film and we talked about a second one in the interview where Sylvester Stallone’s character and all the other Ravager captains were gathered talking about Yondu.
JG: Absolutely, I’m excited about those guys. I love those guys. They’re based on the original Guardians in the comic books. It’s based on an earlier iteration of the Guardians. And as Yondu is. And that is something that we shot in post, because I woke up one morning, and I was like, “Oh my God. This could be so fun. What if we made an even weirder, more screwy, more dysfunctional Guardians?” And I went to Kevin, and I’m like, “Can we please do this?” And Kevin was like, “I love it! It’s my favorite thing ever.”
And so we went out and we shot it with Sly and the gang. And Ving Rhames, who I knew from the Dawn of the Dead movie I did a long time ago. So it was something I’m exciting to, you know, possibly pursue. Whether or not that’s something that’s small roles, or we see them pop up in the way we see Howard the Duck pop up again in this movie.
Kevin F: Who is the voice of Mainframe?
JG : Miley Cyrus. A scoop. That’s a real hot scoop. You got yeah. Miley Cyrus has a cameo in the movie. I’m a hundred percent serious. I was watching the voice, and I’m like, “She’s so likeable.” And her voice is awesome. I’m like, “She’s got the best voice.” And then I wrote this thing and I went in and I said, “Kevin, what do you think about casting Miley Cyrus as the voice of Mainframe?” And he was like, “Well, I’ll see if we can get her.”
We followed up asking Feige about how he picks directors since he seems to do such a great job matching directors to films.
Well there are a lot of meetings, and it’s really a leap of faith, to some regard. And a lot of it is, “is the vibe and do we want to spend in a worst-case scenario, three years together, and in a best-case scenario, you know, ten years together? 12?” But really we have a great team at Marvel Studios. And in the case of Guardians it was executive producer Jerry Latcham and now executive producer Jonathan Schwartz who did the first round of meetings, and they were the first people James met with.
If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 yet, be sure to grab your tickets because it’s playing in theaters everywhere. It’s a great movie that will make you laugh, cry, and laugh some more.
About Guardians of the Galaxy:
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is now playing in theaters everywhere.