As of March 2017 we’ve had all embargoes lifted regarding my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit, which took place last April partly at Atlanta Pinewood Studios – where Marvel Studios has entirely taken over the facilities since it opened, its first production being Ant-Man – and on location at an old, derelict conference center.

Where we traveled to the UK for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios HQ is basically in Atlanta now where they also shot Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Black Panther, and where they’re working on Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and potentially Captain Marvel at the time of this publication.

We had the opportunity to chat with all of the main characters of the Guardians sequel, who were fully decked out in costume, as well as key crew members, writer-director James Gunn, and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige on our adventure. We’ve shared dozens of articles since February to share our learnings so here is where we can recap it all with a few timely updates as we edge closer to the May release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Without further ado, here are 50 things we learned on our Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit!

50. Only A Tiny Bit of the Movie Takes Place on Earth

Marvel Comics The Peak Space Station orbiting Earth 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When speaking with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige to begin our set visit we sat down with him in the production offices of Atlanta Pinewood Studios. At the time we knew Avengers: Infinity War was coming up just a year after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but writer-director James Gunn consistently emphasized that his Guardians of the Galaxy sequel is expanding deeper into the cosmic and doesn’t really connect to the other movies.

Kevin Feige: We are going out further, yes. There’s a little bit of Earth in this film, but it’s not these characters going to earth.

We can only assume then if it’s not directly setting up Avengers: Infinity War with its Earthly connections, then perhaps scenes of Earth are flashbacks explaining how and why Star-Lord’s dad (Ego the Living Planet) came to Earth and fell in love…

49. There Are 4-5 Planets

Ego the Living Planet from Marvel Comics 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Including Ego, there are multiple new cosmic locations. Some have very different and unique aesthetics and one is a forest planet we saw  bit of on set and in the marketing materials (where they setup camp).

The most pulp sci-fi of these from what we saw in the concept art on set was labelled “J’Son” which we can now confirm is Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell’s character). He is both a planet and a person in human form and this explains how and why his personal starship organically connects to the surface when it lands. There are all sorts of wild visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and stuff you’ve never seen before in a comic book movie.

More on Vol. 2’s style and how it’s pushing on that front, later!

48. It Takes Place Just A Few Months Later

Marvel Comics Timeline 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

James Gunn talked about this a lot when explaining how and why Groot is Baby Groot instead of a fully regrown tree creature, and how initially the movie was going to be set years later. But for character purposes it was interesting to see how the characters were still basking in the fame of what they did in the first movie, and to have Rocket Raccoon have a role reversal with Groot where he is now the protector.

Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and producer Jonathan Schwartz confirmed to us on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that the sequel takes place “a couple months” later when we asked about why Groot was Baby Groot.

Kevin Feige: Just a few months, so he’s probably just grown out of that pot and stepped out, and is now this size, but as James I’m sure will tell you, he’s just as dumb as big Groot was, and I mean, he’s not really a baby. As James said in that sizzle, he gets, he gets mad at people. And then of course, the fun thing is, as you saw briefly in there, whereas Groot was Rocket’s protector in the first movie, Rocket is Groot’s protector, and they sort of all are in this movie, which was something we had talked about and planned on. It was one of those things, when we were making the first film, and we were just concentrating on making that film as great as it can be, there are always little things that we say, boy, if we get to make another one, it would be really fun. And from the moment we were shooting and animating Rocket on Groot shoulder, we were saying, on the next one, we’ll reverse it. Wouldn’t that be cool? And that’s what we’re doing.

And here’s what writer and director James Gunn had to say:

James Gunn: I think because they’re just such fragile egos, and they’re so combustible that this is really the time. I think they’d have problems with each other pretty instantly. And so I just felt like it was more… Seemed funny when I was writing it. [Laughs] It’s what came up, and I thought about it being later and I think a lot of it was the Groot thing as well. When I first started thinking about it, when I was jotting down ideas, I thought Groot was maybe going to be an adult. And I thought “God, what if I just make Groot a baby for the whole movie. Like he’s a baby.” And I think that just felt right. So a lot of it had to do with that.

47. Yondu Has His Fin From The Comics

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A long time ago, during one of his many Facebook Q&As with fans, James Gunn said one of the things fans consistently didn’t like about his adaptation of the Guardians of the Galaxy characters was dropping the fin/mohawk that Yondu (a member of the original Guardians team in the comics), so in the sequel he wanted to rectify that.

While talking about the larger role of the Ravagers and their many factions in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, none of which seem to be fond of Yondu and his faction, Kevin Feige mentioned, “you may have noticed without much ceremony in the sizzle, but we see it with great ceremony in the movie, he gets a big, a much bigger fin on top of his head, which was James’ sort of nod of the head to that bigger fin he had in the comics, and also because he looks frickin’ awesome in that bigger fin.”

As for why in terms of the story, James Gunn later told us”Yeah, there’s a reason. There’s a reason for it. Yes, there’s a reason for the change of fins,” confirming that is has to do with their confrontations with the other Ravagers.

46. Mantis Has Never Met Another Person

Mantis in Infinity War 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Everyone on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that we spoke to did two things: they acted like Fanboys over working with Kurt Russell, and praised the newcomer, Mantis – who’s played by Pom Klementieff. She’s unique, weird, and brings something very interesting to the MCU, and part of what makes her character special is how innocent and awkward she can be due to her not really having been in contact with other people.

Kevin Feige: She’s amazing. Pom Klementieff… is really amazing and is really unique and is really, and her portrayal of Mantis, she auditioned for the part many, many times, along with many, many other people, because James was doing something very unique with Mantis, who is a, has never really encountered other people and other humans before, humanoids before, and makes Drax look like the most world-savvy person there is, and it’s a tough thing to do and to be endearing, and she’s pretty amazing at it. She comes into the story along with the Kurt Russell character, and doesn’t know the other characters and doesn’t know much of the world, and there is a, talking about the bondings between characters, she and Drax spend a lot of time together in this story as well.

Pom Klementieff: There’s an awkwardness and a curiosity… She wants to discover new things… she was really lonely and by herself, so it’s a completely new thing to meet these people and to discover new things and new emotions and a new way of sharing things.

More on Mantis’ motivations later…

45. Thanos is Main Villain of Avengers: Infinity War

Thanos Gauntlet 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

One of the biggest and most interesting revelations of our Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit wasn’t even about this movie, but when we started the day and chatted with Kevin Feige we asked about the MCU’s issue or lack of time spent developing villains. Now that we’re in Phase 3, that’s going to change in a big way and it may begin with Avengers: Infinity War.

A movie titled Infinity War, which will obviously feature Thanos assembling the six relics and putting them in the Infinity Gauntlet of course must feature a lot of Thanos on screen. After being teased on screen for years while villains are generally under-served, the third Avengers movie will be the first Marvel movie where the villain is the star.

What have you learned about creating villains for Marvel movies, because you know, earlier in Phase 2, as well, like the scale was always really big, like Ronan, but even with Baron Zemo in Civil War, it’s very small in scope. What have you sort of learned as you guys are getting this far into the ..

Kevin Feige: …it always starts with what serves the story the most and what serves the hero the most. We’ve been criticized – if a big criticism of ours is that we focus on the heroes more than the villains, I think that’s probably true. I don’t think it will always be true and I think some of you spoke to Chris and Steve at the Civil War junket. When the heck was that, yesterday? Last week? And they talked about – in appropriately oblique terms – Thanos. Thanos in Infinity War is, you know… in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say he is the main character, and that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called Infinity War.

44. Marvel Intentionally Focuses on the Heroes

Marvel Heroic Age Avengers with Spider Man Iron Man Luke Cage Wolverine and Ms. Marvel 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In a followup to the criticism of Marvel Studios not developing antagonists like other franchises or even Marvel TV does, Kevin explained that this aspect of the storytelling – of focusing on the stories of Marvel heroes instead of villains – so far has been intentional, using Iron Man vs. The Dark Knight comparison as an example:

Kevin Feige: In a lot of cases, Ronan – Ronan’s great, Lee Pace awesome job, absolutely serves it – but certainly was there to go up against our heroes and to give our heroes a reason for coming together. And I think it’s, I hesitate to even… in 2008, there are two superhero movies that came out. One focused on the villain, one focused on the hero, and we at Marvel looked at them as like ‘yeah, we focus on the heroes. We don’t mind that. We like that.’ Please don’t start a flame war. We don’t, nobody wants that. We don’t do that. It really always is what serves the story. Loki, great character, serves, you know, in a lot of ways, Thor. Zemo served that conflict between Cap and Iron Man.

Do you dig this approach so far? With Sony planning a Venom movie for 2018 (that we expect must be connected to the MCU) and Kevin Feige promising to keep doing new things, the strategy will change.

43. Thanos is not in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Thanos Chair1 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While he may be the star of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos won’t get any screentime in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, although his influence will still be felt thanks to the sisterhood relationship development between Gamora and Nebula when they discuss their shared history with their adoptive father. James Gunn explains:

“It’s not about the sisters and their father. It’s about two sisters and what were the sisters’ problems with each other. And yeah, some of those things were caused by being raised by the ultimate abusive father. But it really isn’t about Thanos, and frankly I just wasn’t inspired to put him in the movie. I kind of go with my gut on these things and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t the most fun part of the movie last time for me, and I just didn’t really want to do it this time. And again the relationship with Thanos has nothing to do with it. It’s not about their relationship with Thanos. It’s about their relationship to each other, and what is that. And that was interesting to me. And I thought that was important to our story, and that was important to our characters. What happened with them in the past. There’s a lot of stuff that happened in the past that affects our characters presently.

As for Drax (Dave Bautista) who’s purpose in live is to serve vengeance against Thanos, we asked Bautista about that and he said it’s “a real touchy subject. I think everybody knows from the first film that’s always going to be his mission. That is the reason he is living right now. But yeah, we’ll kind of just leave it at that for now.” Maybe this will be part of the reason the Guardians get pulled into the Infinity War conflict?

42. We Do Learn More About Thanos Though…

Thanos 1 featured 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

As we said, there’s no screen time for Josh Brolin’s Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and it’s doubtful that he’ll even show up in the post-credits scenes (more on this later). There won’t even be flashbacks to him and Gamora and Nebula, according to Karen Gillan but there is this:

Karen Gillan: Yeah, I guess so. We learn a lot about their backstory actually and what happened to these two girls growing up and actually how awful it was for them and how it’s ruined their relationship and they’re sort of going to freely talk about it, which has never happened between these two people.

Thanos presence will be felt.

41. No Infinity Stones!

The Collector Infinity Stones In Guardians Of the Galaxy 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

And with no Thanos there are also no Infinity Stones. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not about chasing a MacGuffin. It’s about characters. And at this point we know where five of the six Infinity Stones are – the last remaining one being the Soul Stone which seems like a safe bet to appear in Thor: Ragnarok at this point. Here’s looking at you and your eyes, Heimdall!

Will we see any Infinity Stones in this one?

Kevin Feige: No.

Simple enough, and refreshing. We’d love to see more stories drop the MacGuffin chase.

40. Mantis and Drax Share A Special Bond

Drax and Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 banner 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Mantis, being so innocent and longing to make connections, will find herself bonding with Drax. As Dave Bautista explained to us on set, Drax is a “heartbroken guy” over the loss of his family and his one mission of revenge. James Gunn explains when we asked about Mantis’ role in the film as someone working with Ego (Kurt Russell’s character).

Besides an obvious working relationship how would you describe the relationship between Mantis and Kurt’s character?

James Gunn: She works for him basically. That’s it. I think it’s very interesting to watch the relationship between Mantis and the other characters. Because like them, she’s an outcast. I think the relationship between her and Drax is very interesting because they’re both complete oddballs.

What about her relationship with Peter, and their dynamic?

James Gunn: It’s more of a relationship to the group as a whole, but I think she relates a little bit more to Gamora and Drax then she does to Peter.

39. There Are Still No Other Earthlings Joining the Guardians

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 BTS Set Photo Ego Ship Chris Pratt James Gunn 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

For a long time there have been rumors – really it’s just wild, made-up fan speculation – of the Guardians of the Galaxy meeting Hulk in space or having Iron Man or Captain Marvel join the team like in the Brian Michael Bendis comics. None of these things were part of the plan during or after the first movie, and Peter Quill remains the only Earthling on the roster in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

James Gunn: From the beginning I say, for the time being, Quill is the only Earthling superhero member of the Guardians. So, that was part of what I had I in mind with her, and that’s probably part of why I landed on her as well.

Although with the Guardians of the Galaxy finally meeting The Avengers next year in Infinity War, the dynamic will need to change. Phase 4 will undoubtedly include Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 where the roster will evolve (maybe this is where more Earthlings can join) and we can expect to see more cosmic-set films and Guardians spinoff. We already know James Gunn has an interest in a spinoff should he decided to make more Marvel Studios movies after this one.

38. Star-Lord Surviving The Power Stone is Important

Star Lord Surviving Power Stone Guardians of the Galaxy 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

We already explained how and why there are no Infinity Stones in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but the team’s interactions with one in the first movie – most notably with Peter Quill holding the Power Stone and surviving – is important. We asked Chris Pratt and James Gunn about this:

Has messing with the Power Stone done anything at all to him?

Chris Pratt: It plays a certain role. His interaction with the Infinity Stone in the first movie becomes – there’s a thread there that gets pulled in the second movie, like you get to know a little bit more. But yeah, that wasn’t an unimportant aspect of who he is.

He said that Star-Lord’s mythology has expanded because he was able to hold it.

James Gunn: Yes, we say that at the end of the movie. There’s a question as to why Star-Lord was able to hold the Infinity Stone and not be completely and immediately destroyed. And we learn a little bit more about why that’s the case in this movie.

Well, Quill’s dad is Ego the Living Planet, a potential elder of the universe. Maybe that’s why?

37. There Are Many Ravager Factions

655864291SH00157 Marvel Stu1 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Family is at the forefront of the themes and plot lines of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but the Ravagers have a much bigger role too. When we began our day on set back in April 2016, Kevin Feige played for us some behind-the-scenes B-roll footage along with a sizzle reel of some of what they had already shot in the first half of production and explained:

Kevin Feige: …the Ravagers are a big part of this movie and I, much more so than even the first film… We did a costume test for the Ravagers. You always do makeup and costume tests on every movie, and usually people come in, and they stand around. Chris Pratt will put on his outfit and stand there and turn around and we point at his butt, and you get the gist of what the costume is going to be.

With the Ravagers, we had them all in full costume and full makeup, and then James put them all together and basically just said, act like the Ravagers. I’m telling you, I could have watched that footage for three hours. It was hilarious, and it was amazing seeing these guys. They’ve, they’re some of the same actors from the first movie, a lot of new actors playing new characters and new Ravagers, and there’s something just really sort of chemically interesting that happens when you put them all together.

This is why Marvel brought many of these actors and put them in costume on stage during their panel presentation at San Diego Comic-Con last summer. Kevin Feige continues:

There is a story, that you saw bits of in the B-roll sizzle that Yondu has gotten soft, that Yondu has a soft spot for Quill. He clearly at the end of the first movie opens the orb and sees that Infinity Stone is not in there, that a little troll doll is in there, and he smiles. It’s a very sweet moment in the first movie. I think it shows that, you know, I think he cares about Quill maybe more than he even admits, but there are other Ravagers who think that was shitty and think they should have hunted him down and killed him right on the spot, and there is an incident in the first act of this movie, where they’ve been hired to get him, and yet again, Yondu is like, ‘we’re not going to take down the Guardians of the Galaxy. We’d be crazy to do that. We’d endanger ourselves. We’d get the entire Nova Corps, everybody would come after us if we did that,’ and Taserface and some others are like, ‘bullshit, you just saying that because you’re soft on Quill,’ and it leads to a mutiny, and in that we have a sort of a subplot of these mutinous ravagers, and Yondu and Rocket and Groot sort of of teaming up and escaping from that mutiny to go help Quill…

36. It’s More Intimate, But with Way Bigger Action Too

guardians galaxy 2 monster concept art 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When anyone involved speaks about the sequel, it generally involves explaining how Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a lot funnier but also more emotional and personal. It is these things but it’s also a superhero sequel and the action is bigger too. James Gunn laughed about this when we asked him about some of the set pieces, one of which involves an inter-dimensional beast at the very beginning of the movie (seen in the the trailer and concept art).

James Gunn: I really set out to write a more intimate, personal story and I think it is, and then somehow in the midst of writing this more intimate, personal, emotional story the set pieces got five times as big. Like really. I feel great about it. Honestly, I’ve been focusing a lot on it because I think that I want this movie to be better in every aspect. And that includes that it’s funnier. The emotion works on a deeper level, which is probably the most important to me frankly. And then the fact that the action is bigger and more exciting.

35. Chris Pratt is in Love With Kurt Russell

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Kurt Russell News 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

If we go by reports, Kurt Russell wasn’t the first actor in talks for the role of playing Star-Lord’s father and someone… who’s also a planet. Matthew McConaughey may have turned down this same role, and some rumors said even Hugh Jackman was of interest for the part too, but that’s all history now. Kurt Russell was a fan-favorite online and ended up being the perfect player to bring into the fold. He gets along extremely well with everyone, especially the actor playing his onscreen son… who now wants to be his real son!

How cool is it that Kurt Russell is your dad?

Chris Pratt: It’s so cool. It’s so cool. It’s perfect.

What’s it like working with him?

Chris Pratt: For me, there are actors that I loved growing up – there’s a handful of them – and he is absolutely right at the top of that list, and has not once done anything to disappoint the inner child in me who was so excited when he got cast. He’s really cool. He’s absolutely an artist. Even though he’s kind of the ‘everyman’ kind of a character, he’s really an artist and he really cares deeply about all of the details of his character. We’re really kindred spirits I think. Me and Anna [Faris], and Kurt and Goldie [Hawn], I feel like we are the same in some parallel universe, you know what I mean? Anna’s often times been compared to Goldie Hawn, like in the House Bunny and things like that, and one of our favorite movies is Overboard. And I guess some people have made that comparison with me and Kurt, just kind of like a blue-collar type of dude, American actor. He loves to hunt and be outdoors and he’s, I don’t know, I just really, really love him. I’m in love with Kurt Russell. [Laughs]

You’ve said you’ve asked him to be …

Chris Pratt: … be my dad in real life. Yup. I’m still waiting to hear on that. ‘Cause he’s got other children so I think that he’s gonna have to check with them to see if they want a brother, but I’m hoping they all say yes. [Laughs] No, I have a feeling that it’s one of those relationships that you meet somebody and you know that the relationship – although some relationships you meet someone, it’s fine when you’re on set, you’re gonna have a great working relationship with them, but you know that when the movie wraps there’s a likelihood that you probably won’t see one another unless you work together again. But I think it’s not that way with Kurt. I’m sure we’ll go hang out and do things together because we’ll talk for an hour and not have once mentioned anything about work, you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool.

34. Everyone Else is In Love With Kurt Russell Too

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It’s not just Chris Pratt who loves spending time with Kurt Russell on and off set. Literally every person we interviewed involved with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 loved him.

What’s it like working with Kurt Russell?

Dave Bautista: It’s pretty great, man. [laughs] It’s pretty great. It was weird. I felt like such a fanboy. The first day, I was like, “I’ve got to ask you about this, man: How do you feel about the Rock being cast as Jack Burton?” And he was like, “Yeah, great.” I wanted to hear the opposite: “I think it’s shit. I think it’s shit casting, man. They cast the Rock as Jack Burton, I just don’t agree. Like, Chris Pratt to me is Jack Burton,” but that’s the fanboy in me, man. I take things like that personally. [laughs] But he doesn’t take that personally at all. He’s like, it’s the character you’re portraying, now it’s time to move on. Next character. But yeah, a lot of Snake Plissken stories going around, stuff like that. Constantly bugging him about what we want to know. What’s really weird, especially for someone — because he grew up in Hollywood, grew up in film, so it’s kind of weird to meet people that grew up in films who are still in touch with reality. I’ve met a few people and they’ve been sheltered their whole life and just totally out of touch, and Kurt is not like that at all. He’s like super down to earth and just a real dude and real friendly to everybody, and that’s kind of cool to see, because I’ve seen the opposite, so it’s really cool to see someone who comes on and just is real down to earth. There’s nothing superficial or pretentious about him. He’s been just very patient with everything. He’s never in a rush, he doesn’t keep to himself, he doesn’t separate himself from the cast, so it’s kind of cool.

Obviously a lot of great actors have come through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but how cool was it to have Kurt Russell on set?

Producer Jonathan Schwartz: It’s really cool. I have a hard time not fanboying out about it. But I keep it all inside. It’s really cool that he’s so passionate and committed to a movie like this, because I don’t think he’s really, necessarily done something like this before – which is part of what’s so cool about it. And he’s really into the character and into the mythology and loves it… That’s the other cool side of it. Watching that happen. It’s a real treat.

What’s it like going from being a fan of Kurt Russell to directing him?

James Gunn: It’s pretty crazy. It’s pretty crazy. Especially, Escape From New York, to me is like one of those bible movies as a kid. It’s like one of the core experience films. So working with Snake Plisskin has been quite an experience. But he’s great. I’ve worked with a few actors who I’ve admired a lot. Benicio [del Toro] was like that. Glenn Close was like that. Kevin Bacon was like that. Those are people who I really admired as actors, and it wasn’t like coming into work with somebody who was more of a contemporary. It was somebody who was famous and successful long before I was. Not so Benicio, but he was pretty young when he became successful.

And working with Kurt, he’s been the most down to Earth. And maybe it’s also because I’m more confident than I used to be, but I think he’s been down to Earth. And he’s funny as shit, and we laugh hard. And he’s filthy.

Have you gotten to work at all with Kurt while you’re on set and what’s it like being on set and watching him work?

Karen Gillan: All I want to do is watch him work, and I have watched him work. And it’s like just getting a lesson on how to act basically. It’s really cool, it’s sort of unbelievable actually. I’m just like, “What’s happening?” We get this whole thing, and he’s amazing and his character is going to be brilliant and he’s just really charming.

Zoe Saldana spoke to us about her love of ’80s movies which led to:

Zoe Saldana: …I do love Big Trouble in Little China. I am a fan of his. To get to work with a veteran of that scale and I’m really humbled. And he’s fantastic. An incredible human being. And I’ve been also a great fan because he’s always been someone we’ve always talked about, my family on about being a good Father. A really good man to his family. So I get to work with a decent human being. I’m really happy about that. When you get old, you know, your time starts to mean everything to you. So how you spend it and who you spend it with is very important. And if I’m gonna spend 16 hours of my day at work, I better be fucking spending it with great people. And Kurt Russell is a great person I have to say.

What’s it like working with a legend like Kurt Russell?

Pom Klementieff: Oh, it’s amazing! He’s amazing. He’s really nice. He’s really funny. He’s really professional, and it’s great to see him work and to see someone who’s done so many movies and who’s so down to earth, it’s great. They’re all like that in this movie. I feel really lucky.

How cool is it then knowing that Kurt Russell’s Ego the Living Planet could return in future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies!?

33. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Is More Emotional

Drax Petting Rocket Guardians of the Galaxy 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

James Gunn made it abundantly clear from the beginning that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would be about family, a story about fathers, but it’s also a story about sisters in the case of Gamora and Nebula, and about the issues of being in a dysfunctional family. The movie is far more intimate, and this is why Chris Pratt said long ago that he cried reading the script.

Do you feel like this film is more emotional than the first one?

Karen Gillan: I think it’s more emotional for sure, because the main theme of this film is family. And that’s true of the last film, but this is where we really get to see like that on a much deeper level and what it means to all of the characters. Also it’s just funnier. Like the really funny dialogue from the last film, it’s amplified in this film.

32. There Was One New Guardian of the Galaxy Cut From First Draft

Adam Warlock Ronan Nova Guardians of the Galaxy 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When James Gunn pitched his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ideas to Marvel Studios’ top brass, he handed in a whopping 64-page treatment. And since then very little changed to what fan swill see on screen except for one major thing: there was another major character who got cut.

James Gunn: I’ll say one major thing that happened during the treatment phase, not even during the script phase, during the treatment phase there was another character that was a major character. That was a part of the treatment. Although it kind of worked generally in the story, I got to the place where there were to many characters. I think Civil War handles a lot of characters really well, but they’re minor characters, and in this movie every character has their own arc, their own thing. And I thought it was one character too many, so I took one of the characters out of the story about half way through the treatment phase. But the eventual 70-page treatment, which is what it was, is what this movie is, and it has changed very, very little. And there’s been almost no changes in the past three or four months before shooting; minor, minor lines here and there. We did rehearsals and some things I changed because of that. Now who knows, we may get into post and go “oh my God, let’s change everything,” I hope that isn’t the case, but I’ve been really fortunate.

And part of it is because I knew on the last movie we did do a lot of changes later on. We did some changes in production. We did some changes in post-production, and I knew this time I was really fortunate to have such a headstart on the script. And to make that story really strong so we could have that from the beginning. And so that was something I focused on, was really dialing in the screenplay, the dialogue, everything before we ever even came here to Atlanta.

Is it possible then we see this character in the future? Gunn followed up by saying “for sure” and that he loves the character, but just didn’t have room for him in this particular story. As for how it could be, it’s a male character and someone who wasn’t one of the original 3000s-era team. Take your guess as to who!

31. Mantis is Partly CGI

Mantis CGI Antennae Guardians of the Galaxy 2 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Where Groot and Rocket are entirely generated in post-production whereas Drax and Gamora are entirely practical, Mantis falls somewhere in between. When we interviewed Pom Klementieff on set, there were dots on her face and the antennae on her head only came out part way with pins and tiny balls at the end of them sticking out where the CGI elements will come in with special FX.

Can you talk a little bit about the makeup for your character?

Pom Klementieff: Ah, the makeup! So, there is some CGI going on, that’s why I have dots on my face. [Laughs] So I’m not going to look like that. And my antennae are going to be bigger with CGI. So, I’m not moving them, it’s going to be the CGI job to move them. So, I hope they’re going to do a good job!

30. Groot Wasn’t Originally Going to Be Baby Groot

guardians galaxy 2 groot 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

As James Gunn explained in a recent Facebook post, Baby Groot wasn’t include in the movie solely as a marketing and merchandising idea – although that is an obvious benefit. At first, Gunn was planning to have Groot all regrown back up again.

We all met and fell in love with baby Groot today. Was there any consideration of ever having him be more full grown in this movie?

Totally, a hundred percent. I started out thinking of him as full grown, and I didn’t, you know, of having him grow up. Then all of a sudden I thought, that’s what you would think you would do, really, and I’m like really don’t have to stick with that. It could be baby Groot, and baby Groot is very different. He’s a unique little fella, and he’s pretty great in the movie even though he’s not even there. But all the time Chris is like “God dammit, he’s gonna steal the fucking movie.” And it’s nothing. It’s nothing there, but he’s funny even in the dailies we’re watching. And we got the guy on a stick, and people are laughing. There’s something really cool about him, and he’s funny in the movie. He’s a little jerk too.

29. Baby Groot is Real!

Guardians Galaxy 2 Baby Groot Trailer 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

On Guardians of the Galaxy 1, the cast had the benefit of Sean Gunn on set playing Rocket Raccoon, but with Groot, when they didn’t have a mocap actor stand-in for certain physical scenes, his presense was often forgotten. You’d easily not realize he’s even in the scene since he’s entirely CGI and doesn’t have dialogue. Since Groot now exists as the feisty Baby Groot this time around, the crew made these amazing replica Baby Groots to have on set. You’d always know he’s there.

We had the chance to hold and see up close what Baby Groot looks like and the amount of detail that went into the design and the skin-like texture was incredible. They have to keep Baby Groot (and his replicas) in tight security, in these protective cases.

28. Nova Corps makes a little appearance

Nova Corps Guardians of the galaxy 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While in the production offices at Atlanta Pinewood Studios browsing concept art for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we noticed models of the Nova Corps fighter from the first movie so I asked Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige if Nova is back, specifically of Nova Prime (Glenn Close) and Rhomann Dey (John C. Reilly). He replied only with “John C. Reilly is not in this one.”

When we pressed about Close, he dodged the question, hinting that it’s still being worked on but no deal has been finalized. Later in the day, when we traveled to an old, unused convention center where the movie was shooting, James Gunn confirmed that the plan was indeed to shoot scenes with Glenn Close but it’s only a brief appearance. The story of Vol. 2 does not see the Guardians on the planet Xandar (from the first movie), but instead they will communicate to Nova Prime. It seems the beginning of the film may be the Guardians working for Ayesha and the Sovereign in exchange for them handing over the prisoner Nebula so the Guardians can turn it into the Nova Corps to pay for her crimes.

27. Mantis Has A Funny Moment With Rocket

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Rocket Raccoon with Blaster 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Imagine if the first people you ever meet and social with included a talking raccoon and tree. That’s the case of Pom Klementieff’s Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It’s unclear – and intentionally secretive – what Mantis’ relationship is with Ego, the only person he’s ever known, but when she meets the team she’ll befriend Drax and have a unique moment with Rocket.

How does she interact with Rocket and Groot, because Rocket is a very angry character? Does that rub off on her?

Pom Klementieff: Yes! There is a funny moment, but I can’t really tell. She’s trying to connect with him and it doesn’t really work. [Laughs]

Seeing Rocket interact with any other Marvel character can be a treat, so we look forward to him fighting alongside Thor in Avengers: Infinity War. We also can’t wait to see him talk tech with Tony Stark. That must happen, right?

26. Gamora is Still The Moral Compass

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 BTS Set Photo Gamora Zoe Saldana 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Groot may have the heart, but Gamora has the right goals in mind. Sure, some characters want vengeance against Thanos, and some may still want fame and fortune – or at least, embrace it a bit too eagerly – but Gamora’s change of heart from deadly assassin of Thanos to making amends for her past is still at the core of the team and what they’re trying to accomplish.

I was gonna ask with new characters coming in in this one, does she still play that role?

Zoe Saldana: Yeah. But we know where that line is of her turning into like a Mom a lot, you know. And her just being just a meticulous, detailed, professional individual. But now it’s like okay, if we’re gonna be sort of like bounty hunters or whatever it is that we’re gonna do in the universe, let’s just establish some rules and let’s stick by it. Like what’s your title? What’s your title? She’s definitely like really OCD about that. Hasn’t changed. I think it’s gotten worse. She should probably go talk to somebody. But she’s… she is their moral compass. Still is.

Is Gamora the rightful leader of this team?

25. Thor: Ragnarok goes beyond the Nine Realms

thor 3 images hemsworth waititi 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Chris Hemsworth is getting his wish with us own Marvel franchise. He wanted a more James Gunn/Guardians style film for his next solo outing and he’s getting that with Taikia Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. It’s barely set on Earth, similar to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and it’s pushing the boundaries so to speak. It’s way, way, way more cosmic and funny.

With the first one being such a big success, and with people really keying into this portion of Marvel universe, do you see going forward more films set in this part of the universe? We’ve been so earth-bound in the rest of the MCU. Is there a possibility of the Nova Corps or other cosmic Marvel characters branching off from this foundation?

Kevin Feige: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know about branching off from this, but certainly inhabiting similar areas from this. A lot of our upcoming movies will. I mean the upcoming movies will be as much up here, as they are on earth, starting with not Spider-Man, starting with Thor: RagnarokThor: Ragnorak takes place, there are three scenes on Earth in Thor: Ragnarok. Everything else is Asgard, and not any of these worlds, but worldwthat certainly, let’s put it this way, in Thor lingo, it’s beyond the nine realms. There are other planets that we spend a lot of time on in Thor: Ragnarok, that certainly people would say, oh, that’s sort of like the Guardians world, but they’re just other areas of the Marvel cosmos universe.

24. Mantis Will Be A Big Deal

Guardians of the Galaxy Star Lord Mantis 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Being able to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let alone play a key character in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, is a dream job for any Hollywood talent. So with everyone imaginable being a potential option for casting directors, it can be very challenging to find the right person. For Mantis, a long-time character from Marvel Comics, and a main character in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s modern Guardians of the Galaxy comics run from 2008-10, James Gunn landed on Pom Klementieff who has the “strangeness” in real life it takes to bring Mantis alive on screen. She brings more diversity to the movie and franchise, and according to one co-star, she could be a breakout star like the cast of the first movie (where Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, and Karen Gillan all become mega stars).

Can you talk about Mantis and what dynamic she adds to the group?

James Gunn: Well, I think Mantis is as odd and strange as Pom is. And I think she is an incredibly unique character. And I think she’s funny as shit. And she’s really funny. And she’s also a little creepy. And she’s great. She really is great.

I remember when we were auditioning Star-Lord, you’re asking for this straight white dude and we screen tested 25 guys and it was really hard finding somebody great because, honestly, a lot of the really great guys in that age category become movie stars. And to be auditioning Asian actresses was awesome. Truly, we screentested four actresses who all four of them were totally incredible. It’s just Pom happened to fit the role the best, but it was a really amazing experience. And honestly, truly, an example of there’s a lot of actors out there who don’t get the opportunities of these lead roles that a regular white dude does.

Can you talk about one of the new characters, Mantis, and how Star-Lord gets along with her?

Chris Pratt: I can tell you that Pom [Klementieff] is somebody who will be on your radar for the rest of your life after this. She is crushing it. She’s so unique and like Dave was born to play Drax, I feel like she was totally born to play Mantis. And also because no one really knows – maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen anyone play Mantis before in a movie so it’s pretty open as to what somebody can do. And her particular voice, the look of the character and all of the story elements are so unique that it’s really nice that Pom is inhabiting a character that no one’s ever seen before because she’s doing something that nobody’s ever seen before. As far as how our relationship goes, I don’t wanna get too much into that, but she’s a major part of this movie and I think it’s safe to say a major member of Guardians of the Galaxy.

23. J’Son is NOT in the movie

json peter quill father 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Peter and his father J’son of Spartax (from the comics)

This is a weird one. It’s obviously now since it was revealed Kurt Russell is playing Ego the Living Planet, but going into the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit, “J’Son” was written everywhere, from the concept art to Russell’s chair on set. They wouldn’t reveal who he was. We did know going in though that James Gunn, who’s directing and writing the movie, really doesn’t like J’Son from the comics, even comparing that version of the family dynamic to Luke Skywalker’s in Star Wars.

Here’s what Gunn said to us when we were on set and when they weren’t ready to reveal that the character is Ego:

James Gunn: But I also want to make clear, here’s the thing you get stuck with, he isn’t J-Son. He isn’t named J-Son in the movie. That’s just flat out the case. But here’s the thing, we’ll probably all know who the father is by the time this movie comes out. ‘We’ meaning you guys, because the movie really isn’t about that. It’s not about this big reveal of who the father is. It really is about the story between the different characters, and so it’s not about that reveal. It’s not about there’s this big shock moment. We’re probably all going to know by the time the movie comes out. It happens pretty close to the beginning of the film. It’s not something we reveal at the end of the film. So it’s something that’ll come out eventually. I think it’s just we want to choose the time when that comes out. And hopefully we’ll be able to do that.

22. Female characters WILL be represented in the Merchandise

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Female Characters 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When Marvel Studios split, sort of, from Marvel Entertainment, some things changed. Going forward there shouldn’t be issues about female villains (like there was in Iron Man 3 early on) and there shouldn’t be a noticeable lack of female merchandise (like there’s been with Black Widow). With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 featuring three female characters on its roster, and a female villain, this will be appropriately reflected in the licensing and merchandise.

This is obviously complicated by different departments involved in this question, but with the first Guardians, there was a lot of concern that when the merch came out, Gamora wasn’t seen in a lot of places. This movie has Nebula forwarded, Mantis joins the group. Are we going to see, as the merch and stuff comes forward, are we going to see more women? Is there followup to the Black Widow campaign that people were having on the internet.

Kevin Feige: That was very frustrating for us, because we see it from the other side, right. When I say we, I mean the filmmakers, because we’re presented with the stuff that’s being made, and there’s, I don’t know if there’s an absolutely equal sampling, but Black Widow was all over that. Gamora was all over that stuff. What we don’t see is how much of it is in any given store. How easy is one piece of merchandise to find versus another piece of merchandise. So, we see the stuff and we go, oh great, these are all our characters, they’re all great represented, they’re all going to be sold, and then we find out, oh, you can’t find this, you can’t find that, or there’s lunch boxes or a backpack where a certain character is not on it, and I think the outrage was great, because that’s not going to happen anymore. And that was one of our big things we set out to do and was very important to James as well, was putting, as we did in the first film, with a number of characters, even more so this time, putting women at the forefront of the story.

Is that something that you’re going to be more involved in going forward, making sure that there is that representation?

Kevin Feige: There is, in as much as what we can have sway over. We can’t have sway over what a retail store, how many items of what they want to stock on a shelf, but when toy sets come over, or t-shirt designs come over, if they’re not represented properly or representative of the film, we’re not even saying is the equality of each gender specific, we’re going does it represent the movie we’re making, and if it doesn’t, we send it back until it does.

21. Music Has An Even Bigger Role This Time

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol 2 Fan Art 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When James Gunn put his head down to develop a treatment for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he wasn’t messing around. He sent in a 64-page monster with music built into it at a time when Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige was incredibly busy. That writing, and the music, pulled him in and won him over immediately though.

Kevin Feige: It is all off the tape. It’s all off of Volume 2. I would say that the other Guardians now know that music is a thing for Peter, so in early scenes, what you see baby Groot here, which he’s just Groot in the movie, but on set we call him baby Groot, he’s setting up these little outerspace speakers so that the music can play for all of them, because Quill likes to hear music when he’s fighting. So, it does go more than just his headset, but it’s all based off of Volume 2, and I would say that a couple of the songs, and particularly one song has very unique lyrics that play in much more specific part into the plot, than any song did in the first film.

20. The Song Selection is A Little More Adult, Complex, and Bigger

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 One Sheet 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy 1 became a chart-topping success on its own so it’s no surprise to see it being built as the hook for the sequel and a cornerstone of the marketing material. It’s even a centerpiece of the teaser trailers for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy video game by Telltale Games. For Awesome Mix Vol. 2, expect something different and more mature.

James Gunn: I think that the soundtrack is an evolution from the soundtrack to the first movie. I think the first movie was made for a child that was a couple years younger than the child that this music was made for. So it’s slightly more complex songs. I also think that we have a wider variety of songs. You guys heard, probably, one of the songs today. We have a couple of songs that are enormous songs, which we didn’t have on the first movie. We also have a couple songs that are almost completely unknown, or not very well known at all. So there’s a bigger gamut between the popular and unpopular songs on the second album.

We’ve heard a couple tracks from the Awesome Mix Volume 2. How does it compare to the first one and what does it say about where Peter’s at in this movie?

Chris Pratt: Oh, man. I mean, it’s totally different but also the same, you know? It’s a collection of really great songs. James is a fantastic curator for that kind of music. Also, it’s probably better because we have more money. [Laughs] You know, we get cooler songs! We didn’t have to search through as much obscure stuff. Although there is some pretty obscure stuff. There’s some really powerful, amazing songs that we’re really excited to have. Definitely still very honest and as a narrative tool, there’s never a moment that the music isn’t justified and isn’t a part of the storytelling process. It’s not just an accompaniment or a score. It’s like the songs more so in this movie, it really helped tell the story.

19. Sister Relationship Between Gamora and Nebula is Very Important

guardians galaxy 2 gamora nebula 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Gamora and Nebula

The theme of family is what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is built around and it goes well beyond the relationship between Star-Lord and his dad. It also carries over to Rocket who’s find an strange father figure in Yondu, in Drax and Mantis, and of course, between the lethal assassin sisters Gamora and Nebula. We’re going to learn a few things about these two that will change your perspective on them both.

James Gunn: First of all, it’s about two sisters. It’s not about the sisters and their father. It’s about two sisters and what were the sisters’ problems with each other. And yeah, some of those things were caused by being raised by the ultimate abusive father. But it really isn’t about Thanos, and frankly I just wasn’t inspired to put him in the movie. I kind of go with my gut on these things and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t the most fun part of the movie last time for me, and I just didn’t really want to do it this time. And again the relationship with Thanos has nothing to do with it. It’s not about their relationship with Thanos. It’s about their relationship to each other, and what is that. And that was interesting to me. And I thought that was important to our story, and that was important to our characters. What happened with them in the past. There’s a lot of stuff that happened in the past that affects our characters presently.

18. Rocket’s Past is Very Important to Story As Well

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Rocket Raccoon with Blaster 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t have time to delve into the backstories of its main team of heroes, outside of the audience’s perspective character and the film’s only Earthling, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). For the sequel, it’s mean to be smaller and more emotional when it comes to its characters so we’ll learn more about all of them, including poor Rocket who’s the subject of some crazy and horrifying experiments. But it won’t go too deep…

James Gunn: Rocket’s past is very important to the present story, but it’s not about how it affects him, it’s about how it affects his relationship with the other Guardians.

Maybe in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

17. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Lays Foundation For Potential Adam Warlock Intro

Adam Warlock Infinity Gauntlet Marvel 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Thanos is coming to movie cinemas next year to collect the six Infinity Stones and place them in the Infinity Gauntlet, so where is Adam Warlock in all of this? Warlock is a central character in the comic stories surrounding these subjects and even created his own team which basically were the precursors to the modern Guardians of the Galaxy – a team he was also a part of when they were relaunched with the characters we now associate them with (Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, etc.).

In Vol. 2, we may yet see the beginning of Adam Warlock, or at least an opening for his eventual potential introduction. His people, called the Sovereign in the film, and their  leader Ayesha, are a big part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so can they really get away with avoiding Adam Warlock?

We saw a little bit of the art but we don’t really know a ton about Ayesha – can you explain a little bit about her character and what she presents to the Guardians. In terms of being a formidable villain for the Guardians.

James Gunn: She’s a member of this race called the Sovereign and they’re all genetically created by themselves as a self-sustaining race who are perfect. They’re created as perfect beings, and they think of themselves as perfect.

In the comics she’s related to Adam Warlock. Is that the case, she’s gold here just like he is, is it the race Adam Warlock come from perhaps in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

James Gunn: Totally possible. [Laughs] They’re created in pods.

16. The Guardians Split Up

Guardians Galaxy Trailer Yondu Ravagers 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

If first movie is about forming a family, the second is about trying to be one, and it’s not easy. Egos have gotten to some of the team as they’re sort of like rockstars after saving the galaxy and defeating Ronan in the first one. We know from the trailers so far the team splits up at least for part of the movie. We asked producer Jonathan Schwartz about this.

It seems like the team splits up. They’re on separate tracks?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes. That’s accurate. Part of the meta-arc of the movie is what’s going to happen to the Guardians family. Are they going to stay together? So there is a big split that happens relatively early in the movie. Actually, whether they’re going to get back together or remain as a family is, very much, one of the big plots, or themes.

So they split up on purpose?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes.

And that’s when Rocket and Groot sort of get in trouble?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, so Rocket, Groot and Yondo have an adventure and the other Guardians have an adventure.

15. Dave Bautista’s Makeup Process is Vastly Improved

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Drax 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

With only one earthling in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, that means a lot of makeup, prosthetics, and a little bit of visual FX, to bring the rest of the cast to life. Thankfully for Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer, it’s a quicker process this time around.

Have they made it any easier on you with the makeup for the sequel?

Dave Bautista: It’s so easy, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not kidding. It takes like an hour and a half now. The last one, they got it down to four hours and everyone was celebrating. This, literally they attack me with paint rollers all over. And it looks better too. It looks way better.

Is it just more people?

Dave Bautista: They just have a completely different process. It took some testing. The problem was it goes on really great and it looks really great, but it’s really hard to get off. They came up with this idea: they stick me in a sauna at the end of the day. [laughs] They literally have to melt it off of me. That was the thing, because during the test we found out it’s so abrasive they literally have to scrub it off of me. So after two days, my skin was like hamburger. So they came up with the sauna thing, and I literally have a portable sauna that travels around with me and I get in at the end of the day, and I get three guys who come in and attack me – nothing weird there. Four guys in a sauna, just being men. [laughs] We talk about football and fighting a lot while we’re in there. [laughs]

14. Karen Gillan Got To Keep Her Hair This Time (Sort Of)

Guardians of the Galaxy Karen Gillan as Nebula 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

At San Deigo Comic-Con 2013, during the Marvel Studios panel and less than two weeks into filming, James Gunn and the cast came out on stage to great enthusiasm. One of the highlight moments of the Guardians of the Galaxy presentation was a question about how Karen Gillan would be playing the bald Nebula or if they were just foregoing that for the MCU. She took of her red hair wig and threw it into the audience to great applause. She had to go completely bald!

For the sequel, as makeup process improved across the board, Karen was able to keep some of her hair this time

Did you get to keep your hair this time?

Karen Gillan: Half of it. I’m half bald under here. So from here to here it’s shaved and then the top is, you know, I have hair. So we met in the middle.

13. You Will See Different Time Periods

Marvel Comics Timeline 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

If you asked me three or four years ago where and when the Marvel Cinematic Universe would introduce the Time Stone, I’d have said it needs to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. After all, the original Guardians team from the comics, come from the year 3000, and the modern team, their comic arc is entirely built around time. Alas, this is not the case and Doctor Strange used that Infinity Stone instead, and in GOTG 2, there is no stone at all. We will however, still see some different time periods, and according to set photos, that could involve Earth.

Can you talk about, somebody mentioned is was more flashbacks or is it present day?

Jonathan Schwartz: It’s a few different periods of time, yeah.

This could hint at flashbacks to Rocket or Yondu’s past, Quill’s youth after getting picked up by Yondu, or Ego’s when he came to Earth to father Star-Lord. Recall: set photos and reports of Nathan Fillion playing Wonder Man in the past. The story is very personal and things like Gamora and Nebula’s relationship and Rocket’s past are crucial to the plot.

Update: this hint may explained the 1970s style posters

12. Get Ready For New Costumes

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 BTS Set Photo Yondu Nebula with Team banner 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Yondu gets the big fin from the comics, Groot is “Baby Groot” and gets suited up in a Ravager uniform unwillingly for a piece of the movie, but across the board the characters will start to stand out more and differentiate themselves to match their personalities. There’s already a bit of that in the marketing materials with Star-Lord’s new shirt.

At the end of the first movie, Guardians had a cohesive visual identity. They had their raptor getup. It looks like they ditched that at some point? Is there something that ties it all together visually?

Jonathan Schwartz: I’d say, in the beginning of the movie a little bit, but less so as we go on. Part of them kind of, getting full of themselves and believing their own hype and fame. It’s the idea that they are distinguishing themselves visually a little bit. And you see that in the costume design. They are a little more rock ‘n roll. They kinda think they’re awesome now. Which is, at least, a little visual diversion.

11. Nebula’s Costume Involves Some New Arm Upgrades

Nebula missing arm in Guardians of the Galaxy tie in Comic 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In the climactic battle of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 in the skies above the capital of the planet Xandar, Nebula cut her own arm off to escape and stole one of the Ravager ships. Since then she’s not quite had a real replacement so a subplot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is addressing the arm hardware.

How does Nebula’s hand evolve throughout the film? Because we saw some artwork, sort like a little metal claw. A rudimentary claw and then it almost looks like she has sort of a Luke Skywalker-y hand by the end of the film.

Karen Gillan: So one of her other missions is to sort of fix her hand as well. That’s a whole other thing and it’s quite funny because I’ve been acting like this for half of the time. Yeah, so she at some point makes a deal with someone to sort of fix that. Might be linked to this costume.

Someone like Taserface?

Karen Gillan: Oh. Maybe Taserface is involved, maybe. I’m not committing to this mysterious hand spoiler that no one will care about.

10. Ego is Very Much Like Real-Life Kurt Russell

Ego The Living Planet 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

What will Kurt Russell look like as a giant disembodied head the size of a planet? We have no idea but we can’t wait! We do know this Kurt Russell Ego look is the “biggest visual effect of all-time” and that he sort of acts like Kurt Russell in real life.

Like his characteristics. Like what kind of guy is he?

James Gunn: He’s a lot like Kurt Russell.

[Laughs]

James Gunn: And he really is a lot like Kurt Russell. So, he’s a very interesting guy. And I think he’s a very thoughtful guy. And I think he’s a very gregarious guy. And I think we get to see Kurt Russell in his full glory expressing himself.

9. Alien Candy Branding is A Thing

Mantis and Star Lords Shirt 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In one of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailers so far we see Baby Groot sitting in a chair on the Milano eating a bowl of candy, the same sort of candy seen lying around the first movie. Alien candy is a thing, so is alien candy branding and marketing, hence the shirt Peter Quill is wearing in the marketing materials – the same one he was wearing when we interviewed him on set.

What’s on your shirt? Can you translate that for us?

Chris Pratt: Somebody can, because it’s a real language apparently. They’ve created a real alphabet, but it’s from – I think, I might be making this up – I think it’s from a candy wrapper from the first movie. This is like a space brand of some kind so it’s like on my shirt the way anyone would be wearing an ironic Reese’s Pieces shirt or something like that.

8. The Film is One Giant Interconnected Plot

Ayesha in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Elizabeth Debicki plays Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign

The trailers so far for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have made to hold back on the actual plot of the sequel but we do know there are several antagonist factions at work. The Ravagers, multiple factions of then, have a big part to play, and the same can be said for the gold-skinned Sovereign. From what James Gunn teases below, there’s more to it than that since the “villains” are directly connected to the team too.

What’s different about your villains this time around? What’s the dynamic-

James Gunn: I think the main thing that was different, and this is really important to me, was to be able to make the story one where the personal story of the Guardians and the villain agenda plot was all about one thing. And that was important to me. It wasn’t like “oh, here’s our characters on journey with each other while they’re fighting this big bad that’s doing whatever he or she is doing, and just that’s it.”

You know, which honestly, the first movie if there was one thing that I- It’s fine, but it is, kind of, two separate stories there’s Ronan taking over this planet and murdering the universe, and then there’s these guys who through that journey get to know each other and come together. In this movie all of those things are a little bit more interwoven. It really is all one story. And that is, to me, a lot more satisfying way to tell a story.

Don’t be surprised of Ego the Living Planet is up to no good.

7. Drax the Destroyer Will Surprise Fans

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Chris Pratt as Peter Quill and Dave Bautista as Drax header 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who should moviegoers be most excited about seeing back on the big screen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.? Everyone has their favorites but writer and director James Gunn says there are two you should really look out for.

What character do you think will surprise audiences most coming out of this movie?

James Gunn: Uhh… Yondu? But Dave Bautista. Bautista’s murdering, he’s just murdering, murdering, murdering every scene.

Literally?

James Gunn: Yeah. [Laughs] He wouldn’t want to hear me say it. The greatest thing was walking on to the first day of set and being back with these people and it was kind of like we just picked up where we left off except for one thing, that they had all gotten incredibly better. Zoe probably had the most experience starting off, but she got a lot better. Chris got way better. And Bautista exponentially got better from what he was in the first movie, and he’s going to flip people out. And then Rooker is just like, it’s the role of a lifetime. It really is, he’s amazing. And then people don’t know Pom.

We also spoke to Bautista about this role and character evolution this time around, and he agreed, he has a bigger and more dynamic part in the movie, thanks to his experience on the first movie and the major roles he’s landed since (Spectre, Blade Runner 2, Escape Plan 2, etc.)

Dave Bautista: No, I think if I can say that he has evolved at all, I think that he’s just more prominent in this film. I think James really just found such an amusement to Drax. An amusement for writing for Drax. He’s just more prominent in this film, which is great for me, and he may have developed a bit more faith in me as well. I was still kind of the new guy on set with the last film. I kind of pulled my weight, and he’s developed even more faith in me, so he’s written for me more. That’s just my take on it.

James Gunn took a chance on Bautista and helped make him a star. Now he is one and will prove it!

6. The Sequel is Much More Colorful, Much More Sci-Fi

guardians galaxy 2 movie posters 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

One of the most exciting and interesting parts of visiting the set of a superhero epic is looking at the design work and concept art that goes into planning the picture. This is why the “war room” is always the most revealing part of any set visit, where new characters or looks, locations and ships, etc. are revealed. With Guardians 1 we got to see the entire movie played out in visuals, but with Guardians 2 they held back a lot, but what was there was intensely pulp sci-fi, and gorgeous. Producer Jonathan Schwartz walked us through some of it and we asked about the even more colorful and extreme push in visuals (which have since been prevalent in the marketing).

These J’Son [Ego] planet exteriors, in terms of design, we’re looking at like something like a real sci-fi book cover or album cover. Is that part of the plan to push that fantastical, sci-fi aspect?

Jonathan Schwartz: A hundred percent. The first Guardians has a really colorful, pulpy sensibility that I think we’re pushing further, in a much cooler direction in this movie. I think for the designs for this planet play into that tradition in a really cool way. It is about establishing a big, beautiful sci-fi world that’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before – which I’m sure something you guys here on every set visit that you do. But we really mean it.

At the end of the day, we asked writer-director James Gunn about the visual aesthetic and style of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as well.

James Gunn: Times 10. I was scared last time, and this time I’m not really scared because I know that people want to go see the movie, and they probably will go see the movie, but in terms of this is truly my movie from start to finish and there have been absolutely no restrictions placed on me in terms of that’s too far, that’s too artistic, or that’s too unique, that’s too dramatic, that’s too comedic. None of that stuff has ever come up. We’re really, really pushing it.

5. James Gunn Plays The Soundtrack During Shooting

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Empire Photo of Yondu and Rocket Cropped 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

On the first Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn played music during some scenes, especially the action sequences so the talent can move with the rhythm of the music. That’s the case for the sequel in a big way as well. While we were on set Fleetwood Mac was playing as some of the Guardians board Ego’s ship with Mantis. Karen Gillain, who returns as Nebula for the sequel, brought htis up when asking about the family dynamic this time around with Nebula joining the fold.

I mean the Guardians feel like a family, on set is it the same thing?

Karen Gillan: Absolutely, yeah. It really is. I mean it was such a good experience on the first film, and I’m not just saying that because I’m sitting in front of press people, but it’s true. And it’s exactly the same on this one. It’s really, it’s just like a fun thing to work on. Some people think when you work on these bigger films, like some of the creativity is lost and stuff because you’re shooting action sequences for days, but honestly that’s not the case on this film. It’s so creative. James is so loose and free when he directs us and he plays the volume 2 mixtape throughout the scenes, which is so much fun.

What’s your favorite song from the mixtape?

Karen Gillan: I’m not going to tell you any songs! You sneak.

 

Does that help you though, in the scene? To hear the music out loud?

Karen Gillan: Oh, 100%. Yeah, and it sort of unifies all of us as well. When it’s big group shots or people walking, he blasts the music and it really effects everybody and their performances. But that is true of any film I think.

4. The Guardians of the Galaxy Team Will Grow

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 full team 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The incredible cosmic stories told by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning that led to the formation of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy from 2006-2010 is the inspiration for James Gunn’s Guardians (it’s why he had them write the tie-in comic for the first movie) and that team was BIG and kept adding members. Twice as big as the movie’s roster, even. But don’t worry, Vol. 2 will see Nebula, Mantis, and Yondu joing the fight for different parts of the movie and by the end, at least one of them will probably stick around.

If it begins here and ends there, the final piece of art shows a more expanded Guardians team. Is it fair to say, by the end of this film the family grows a couple of members?

Jonathan Schwartz: There are a few members that will be helping the Guardians out along the course of this movie. Perhaps by the end of the movie, someone will have joined them onboard.

And of course, there was another male character (not one of the original five from the Guardians 3000 team) who was in the original draft – a favorite for James Gunn’s – who got cut but who could probably return for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 when that happens.

3. Mantis May Have Her Own Hidden Agenda

guardians galaxy 2 casting mantis 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy comics (2008-2010 run)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is all about character relationships, the theme of family, and this will be deeply informed by the backstories of the cast which all come into play for the sequel. For new character Mantis, we know very little. She has had little to no contact with other beings outside of Ego but we don’t know why they’re together or what her relationship is to him.

When I asked about her power set of empathy, which includes not only reading emotions of other characters, but manipulating them as well like the comics – I wanted to know if she has her own agenda. If she is potentially controlling Ego or the Guardians in this movie. She wasn’t allowed to answer but she and the unit publicist hinted this idea was perhaps in play.

In the 2008-2010 Guardians of the Galaxy comics which serve as inspiration for James Gunn’s adaptations, Mantis is unquestionably a goodhearted charcter, but Peter Quill does use her to manipulate the Guardians into working together and staying as a team for the greater good. When this truth comes to light, it splits the team into two, with Rocket leading the other group.

2. It’s About Bringing People Together

guardians galaxy 2 gamora star lord drax 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

James Gunn has said repeatedly over the last year or two that he’s unsure of what’s next for him, that there definitely will be a Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but that he may not direct it. Given his attachment to the characters he crafted though, we have a tough time seeing him part ways entirely. But it’s not just about that. Gunn revealed the main motivator behind these characters and his connection to them on set.

One of the things that I thought was really interesting about the reception of the first film was that people with autism really embraced Drax. Like in a big way. Did that impact you, writing the character this time?

James Gunn: It really did. Not only Drax, but the characters in general. Groot. And I think outsiders as a whole reacted to the Guardians, which is what … Listen, that’s what I am. That’s what I feel like. But it’s being able to tell those stories for those people is what really the only reason I give a shit about any of this, frankly. And the only reason I would ever put myself through this is to be able to bring people together, and make people feel like maybe they belong a little bit more than they would feel before they saw the movie.

That’s passion right there.

1. There’s Still So Much We Don’t Know

Michael Rosenbaum joins Guardians of the Galaxy 2 50 Things We Learned on the Set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

What is Ego really up to? What is he? What’s his connection to Mantis? What is Sylvester Stallone’s role? Will we see other Guardians we don’t know about yet (i.e. Guardians 3000 members)? Who is Nathan Fillion and Michael Rosenbaum playing? How do the Guardians of the Galaxy find their way to Earth in time for Avengers: Infinity War if this movie has nothing to do with them or Infinity Stones or Thanos?

It’s so refreshing to know that none of these things have been addressed in the marketing and we really hope Marvel Studios keeps it that way. Many Marvel movies in the past have spoiled way too much in marketing, but fans are already bought in on the Guardians, Baby Groot, and their teasers so far. Keep holding back!

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