Much like in The Avengers, Marvel Studios brought together another batch of reluctant “heroes” in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, instead of just trying to save their own planet like the Avengers, the newly formed Guardians team had to save the entire galaxy from Ronan the Accuser’s destructive plans. Due to their desire for money – or eventual sense of heroism – a scavenger, assassin, prisoner, tree, and raccoon teamed up to do the right thing and save the day. Luckily for everyone living in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they succeeded and a few months later the Guardians are basically rock stars. Word has spread of their deeds on the planet Xandar, how they thwarted an invasion, and how they even managed to hold an Infinity Stone without it killing them. Both for moviegoers, and within the story itself, this ragtag group is infamous and far more popular come Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
It’s this recognition that brought the Guardians onto Ayesha‘s (Elizabeth Debicki’s gold-skinned high priestess, leader of the Sovereign) radar and has them fighting to save the Sovereign race in the latest trailer. With all this praise coming their way and them being unaccustomed to the success, it all could easily go to their heads. That is why in the sequel the team will be tested, split up, and asked to contemplate whether they truly can be a team, or more appropriately, a family.
Screen Rant had the opportunity to visit the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta in April of last year, and we were able to speak to a number of people involved about the state of the team in the sequel. So how are they handling the attention and feverish calls for their services? Maybe not the best according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
I assume that Peter Quill’s legend growing only makes Peter Quill more of an asshole.
Kevin Feige: 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.
At some point in the film, the Guardians will accept the help of another new member in Mantis. While the marketing has not shown too much of her thus far, Mantis has a large role in the MCU with her returning for Avengers: Infinity War. As for her introduction however, director James Gunn is excited for her introduction and relationship with Ego.
In addition to Kurt’s character 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 categories become movie stars. And to be auditioning Asian actresses was awesome. Truly, we screen tested 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.
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.
Before Mantis arrives however, the Guardians are already at their wit’s end with one another. The Milano is in rough shape when we are reacquainted with them thanks to all five personalities living together. However, it will not last long according to executive producer Jonathan Schwartz as the team goes on different journeys this time around.
Have there been any significant upgrades or updates to the Milano?
Jonathan Schwartz: It’s very much as we left it. The difference is the Guardians have been living in it for a few months – it’s not really ship made for that many people. So the extent that their high egos and rock ‘n roll sensibilities are starting to intrude on the family dynamic. That’s sort of reflected in the state of the Milano when we find it.
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.
Front and center in this dysfunctional team is Star-Lord trying to steer them in the right direction and lead them into battle, but he isn’t much of a leader inherently. This leaves him in the position to learn how to be the leader they each need, while striking the balance between doing that and being a friend with everyone onboard his ship. That however is much easier said than done.
How does Star-Lord evolve in this film? How is he different from the first film?
Chris Pratt: Well, I mean, we’re picking up a couple of months after the first movie so there was a certain evolution that happened with him in the first movie and it was important to all of us that we don’t move backwards and all of a sudden start where he was at the beginning of the first movie and just tell that story over again. So, he definitely feels a responsibility, feels like he’s a leader, but it’s still a group of misfits. He still has to deal with Rocket, and he still has to deal with Drax and Gamora, and the way that it is. There’s still a lot of fun to be had there. He certainly doesn’t have a mastery on how to be a leader of this group. But I think he feels like the leader of this group at the beginning of this.
If it isn’t Star-Lord leading the team, Gamora appears to be next up on the leadership ladder. Even if this was the case, Zoe Saldana still agrees that they are very full of themselves at the start of the film. Regardless of how much they may seem like they hate each other however, she insists that deep down their friendship is rooted in their cruel jokes.
They said at the beginning that they’re almost arrogant. Like they’re conceited ’cause of their success.
Zoe Saldana: They’re super yes, and they’re so annoyed with each other. And oh man, I love them to pieces, these characters but if I had to like be roommates with them, I don’t know what I would do. Like in a group that stuck with like Peter, Drax for the love of God and Rocket.
They feel like a team that really cares about each other.
Zoe Saldana: Yes, through the way they put each other down. Which I think it’s great. I think it’s a really interesting twist because what James established is a perfect friendship because our flaws is what makes us love each other more. Or at least accept each other more.
If the rest of the team is caught up in their celebrity status across the galaxy, it is Drax and him alone that does not buy into this mindset. Instead, Dave Bautista says he is still driven by his need for revenge on Thanos and is not in this for the glory.
We heard at the beginning, the Guardians are very full of themselves and very cocky. Does Drax buy into that? What are his feelings about it?
Dave Bautista: [laughs] There maybe somewhat of a sense of self-righteousness to Drax, but no. I’ve always described Drax as at the heart of Drax there’s really just a heartbroken guy. He’s really heartbroken over the loss of his family. I think he has one mission, and that is revenge.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more coverage from our set visit of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
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.