In April 2016 we travelled to Atlanta for a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set visit which began in the “war room” at Pinewood Studios before observing filming and conducting interviews off-site. The war room is essentially a conference room where the walls are covered in concept art, but with Marvel’s extreme secrecy, they selectively pick what’s on display. Where on the first Guardians of the Galaxy set we saw the entire movie’s story, sequence by sequence, on the sequel they wouldn’t even reveal the name of Star-Lord’s dad (which was later revealed at San Diego Comic-Con to be Ego).
We begin here with a conversation with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and co-producer Jonathan Schwartz who show us a sizzle reel to give us an idea of what to expect from the film. We then watched some behind-the-scenes B-roll from the first three weeks of shooting and a little 3D model animation of Baby Groot.
This was the very first reveal of what Groot (Baby Groot) looked like in the sequel and the reaction was a combination of cute “awwws” and laughter, something that’s carried through the marketing and merchandising since it became public. From here we had over half an hour to interview Feige as a group about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, why hasn’t Groot gotten bigger? What’s the story behind that?
Kevin Feige: Well, I don’t know if you’re aware, but the growth cycle of a Groot is slower. This movie takes place relatively soon after the events of the last film. Do we say exactly how long it is?
Jonathan Schwartz: It’s a couple months.
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.
Are you going to be doing anything different with Groot’s voice, since obviously Vin Diesel has that deep, gravelly…
Kevin Feige: He will sound different, yeah, but he’ll still say that same thing. [laughter]
What has happened between the first film and when this film starts?
Kevin Feige: I think they’re giving it a shot at being more organized heroes. They are, they are available for do-gooding, so to speak. It doesn’t always good well, but they try that. And when we first meet them, in the beginning of the movie, they’re on a place called Sovereign, where they’ve been asked to help with these, this giant sort of inter dimensional beast that comes out and eats their batteries, their power source, and wreaks havoc on the planet, and the Guardians have been asked to come in and dispatch with that thing, and that’s how our film starts, and their legend, and their mythology has grown and spread throughout the universe, because they defeated Ronan and because they were able to hold, Peter, in particular was able to hold an Infinity Stone and not die, which also has spread his legend.
Is this inter-dimensional beast a nod to the Cancerverse in Marvel Comics…
Kevin Feige: Not specifically. We don’t talk about that. It’s more just a fun beast for them to attack in the opening title sequence.
I assume that Peter Quill’s legend growing only makes Peter Quill more of an asshole.
It doesn’t take much to make Peter Quill more of an asshole. Yes, there’s a pompousness. James, I’m sure will talk about it more eloquently when you see him today, but they’ve all grown a bit more pompous and you know, the garage band that then gets multi-platinum album, and have egos to go along with that, is certainly the case, which is true for all of them frankly. Not Drax as much, but all of them, particularly Quill.
Is this team still getting to know one another?
Kevin Feige: I mean, they are, of course, but they are really and truly a family, and you’ll hear James talk about that a lot, and one of the things I think makes James so special as a writer/director, and you saw it in the first movie, and it’s even more so in this film, is for as fun as it is, for outrageous as it is, characters named Taserface, baby Groot, killing people and throwing them around, it is very, very emotional, and not cynical in the least. It is very, very truthful and sort of unabashedly so, in its emotions. And it’s a very special combination, that I think James is perfect for, and that’s sort of the crux of this whole movie.
How does Kurt Russell factor in?
Kevin Feige: Kurt Russell is a mysterious figure, an adventurer from far parts of the galaxy, who has heard the legend that has spread of the Guardians that I mentioned, and has come to, and has come to meet them and check them out for the first time.
So, what is the main driving, the sizzle made it seem like it was Quill looking for his father and also something with the Ravagers, so what is the main drive here?
Kevin Feige: It’s a combination. the Ravagers are a big part of this, are a big part of this movie, and I, much more so than even the first film, and they are, there’s, I should have shown that too. 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. 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, and 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.
Can we confirm that Elizabeth Debicki is Ayesha, and Chris Sullivan is Taserface?
Kevin Feige: Yes, yes. Did we not confirm that? That is correct. That is correct.
What can you tell us about Ayesha. Would you call her the main villain?
Kevin Feige: You know, she and Taserface together, she is, she’s the one who hires the Ravagers to go after, to go after Quill, because, and this is sort of a spoiler, so you should be a little careful about it, after the opening that I already described, where they’re paid to protect these super duper expensive batteries, that run the entire Sovereign planet, they’re walking away, they’ve defeated the monster, they’re heading back to their ship, and Rocket reveals to Drax that he’s stolen like three of these batteries, because they’re really expensive and they’re not going to notice and who cares, and they’re kind of, the Sovereign are kind of dicks anyway. They’re very pompous, and they’re gold and they’re easily offended, which we’re also told early in this sequence, and that there’s a very particular way you need to deal with them, and you need to speak with them and you need to be delicate, which is not easy for the Guardians, and certainly not easy when Rocket reveals that he’s snagged these things right out from under them, and that creates a bit of strife for them as the Sovereign end up chasing after them, less because they want those three batteries back, but more because how dare they insult the great Sovereign people.