‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ In Production; Character Animation Detailed

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Guardians of the Galaxy Script Guardians of the Galaxy In Production; Character Animation Detailed

Marvel has overcome its first hurdle in bringing Guardians of the Galaxy to life, with the casting of Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, the cosmic super-team’s leading man. But when the rest of your cast consists of an anthropomorphized raccoon and walking tree (among others), finding the right actors and actresses is trickier than normal.

While Rocket Raccoon and Groot are going to appear onscreen solely through digital means, Marvel’s visual effects team has their animation plans already established, and are hard at work as we speak.

Despite the lack of a hero as well-known as, say, Captain America set to appear, Guardians of the Galaxy may represent one of the largest challenges in terms of digital effects that fans have seen from Marvel thus far. As a result, the announcement that filming would commence this June in London is only half the story.

In an interview with CinemaBlend, executive producer Victoria Alonso revealed that the film’s development is already underway:

“Production has already started! Completely. It started months ago and we have an entire team in London already – we start shooting in June. Our director [James Gunn] travels next week and it’s going, baby! It’s a fast train to a beautiful place.”

Hearing that the studio and special effects team are already at work on making Guardians a success should be expected, since the film undeniably possesses more risk than many of the other, more iconic, Marvel properties. And if the rumors of Iron Man 3 possibly acting as a lead-in to Guardians (ending with Tony Stark’s journey into deep space, the territory of the titular Guardians) are true, they’ll need completed versions of the characters as quickly as possible.

Rocket Raccoon James Gunn Guardians of the Galaxy In Production; Character Animation Detailed

It’s impossible to talk about the digital effects being planned for Guardians without focusing on Rocket Raccoon, the lovable creature endowed with human intelligence and an affection for heavy weaponry. Providing the voice and personality for Rocket is a dream of any fan of the comic books, with James Gunn’s friend and past collaborator Michael Rooker publicly offering his talents. There have been reports that Marvel may be looking for a more recognizable star, but at this point it’s an open race (SIDE NOTE: once again, we’d like to nominate Jason Statham).

Of course, that still leaves the actual task of animating the character – and his fellow Guardian the walking, talking tree name Groot – up to the effects team. Oh, and in all likelihood, delivering Thanos’ big screen reveal as well. Is the plan for building a convincing Raccoon purely one of animation, or will motion capture play a role? Alonso gives some insight:

“We’re going to do a combination. You can’t do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won’t let you put the suit on [laughs]. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior. Rocket will have his own personality, of course, and clearly we can’t do mocap on a tree, per se, but we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be the behavior and the performance. He’s very clear on where he wants to take the characters.”

We have no doubts that Gunn has a singular vision for this group, with Marvel-godfather Joss Whedon calling the director’s take a particularly “twisted one” that he supports completely, going so far as to say few other directors could make the super-team work on film. In other words: the version of Rocket Raccoon that makes it onto the big screen may not be the one every fan imagined, but it will undoubtedly be memorable.

Rocket Raccoon Guardians Comic Panel Guardians of the Galaxy In Production; Character Animation Detailed

The likelihood of rotomation being used – essentially molding an animated product around the performances (facial, physical) of the actual actor – means the assumptions in the past of an actor lending only their voice to Rocket may be misleading. Gunn and company may be looking for someone who could actually appear on set as either Rocket or Groot, to be removed and ‘arbor-ized/raccoon-ified’ in post-production. Possibly a more difficult road to travel, but one that most movie fans would likely support (see: Andy Serkis’ recent work as Gollum in The Hobbit).

What do you think of this approach to bringing the more fantastic members of the Guardians to life? Does the need for an actual performance change the actors you’d hope would get the role, or have you already chosen the perfect real-life-Rocket? Give your ideas in the comments.


Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters on August 1, 2014, with a chance to see some of the team in Iron Man 3 on May 3, 2013.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: CinemaBlend

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
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  1. I think this movie will stink, mainly because the idea of talking trees sound like Oz and space-ranger racoons sound even more childish like, er, Disney. I wish they were not doing it, as it will cheapen The Avengers universe. I hope I am proven mistaken, but I really have doubts about this one!

    • You’ve obviously never read GOTG, you should give it a try. You’re coming across as ignorant with that comment.

      After reading, tell us what you think.

      I’m personally more excited about this movie than any except for Avengers 2. Guardians, in space, fighting Thanos, maybe some other aliens (Kree?), possibly Nova, maybe Quasar. Sounds like a true cosmic Marvel adventure to me. They should have a Bug cameo, and I’d flip out if the referenced Galdor or the Spaceknights. Good stuff, Marvel.

      • Also, don’t forget that Iron Man will more than likely make an appearance and this movie will lead into The Avengers 2.

      • Respectfully, I disagree. Whether or not he’s read the property is irrelevant. I know that sounds counter intuitive but consider that most people are not fans of the property. Walking, talking trees and gun slinging raccoons are intrinsically more juvenile than a Norse god with a hammer who summons lightning or a man who builds a suit of armor to escape terrorists or a super soldier made to fight Hitler. As a story teller, it is important to consider how you protect your other properties when you build these cross-tangled universes. You can quickly cheapen a beloved hero when you make them share a world inhabited by some of the more “remote” properties. Fans are right to be worried about this. It would be different if it was some kind of stand alone property. But Marvel is more ambitious than that.

        • His judgement is relevant. He comes across as not only closed minded, but uninformed.

          He thinks that Rocket Raccoon is a Disney character. If you read even one comic that he’s featured in, he’d know that that’s the opposite is true.

          I think if people just expand their minds a bit, they be able to accept RR and Groot as something just as plausible and “cool” as Thor or any of the other many eclectic Marvel characters.

          • Okay, but hoping for people to expand their minds just a little bit is a thin, thin hope against more typical prejudgment at hearing about the “absurd” characters in GoG. Obviously the folks holding the purse believe its a bankable property or they wouldn’t be risking all that Avengers cash on it.

            • The Racoon and Tree won’t matter… Thanos is the bottom line here. Possibly some Adam Warlock… splash of Dr. Strange…

              Guardians of the Galaxy? Please and thank you Marvel.

            • I’ve read the Annihilation books and the GoG series (it’s been forever since I read any of the first so I wont count it) and I really enjoyed it. However, I think this movie will tank. Fanboys just don’t understand the mass markets. In fact, they actively try to root against the mass markets. It would really have to be something amazing to work and I just don’t see it being that good.

              Keep dreaming Fanboys. I will be wishing for its success right along with you, but this is VERY high risk and not enough reward.

  2. I am very excited about this movie! Incredibly so.

    They did so well for the Hulk with rotomation. Marvel sees that it works better than simple animation. I mean, even if not for Groot, but they definitely need that for Rocket Raccoon. The personality must come across well.

    I don’t get why people find the idea of a raccoon-looking and ent-looking aliens more ridiculous than elves and frost giants and flying leviathans.

    That’s just so narrow-minded. I think this movie will rock.

    Not to mention that the younger comic fans (aka kids) are gonna love it too. 😀

  3. I hope the story is good and the movie is cool with some humour. As it is now the vast majority of people don’t know these characters and I assume, like myself have no interest in seeing it unless it has a really cool trailer. Anyway I look foward to how it will develop and admire Marvel for having the cojones to take a risk. If only WB and DC would do the same.

  4. Mocap on a tree and raccoon. And therein lies the problem with this flick.

  5. I feel like this is more of a sci-fi action version of “The Wizard of Oz”. The living tree and talking raccoon might have something to do with it

  6. anyone know what happened to jim carrey and adam sandler?

  7. Jason Statham as Rocket Racoon would be interesting as a voice, but I cannot really see him doing the motion capture, since action stars tend to like their own face on film.

    Benedict Cumberpatch or Tom Hardy as RR could also be interesting for their distinctive voices, continuing with the British accent theme. Also, why don’t they just cast Andy Serkis. Proven motion capture artist, voice actor, and also British.

  8. “Providing the voice and personality for Rocket is a dream of any fan of the comic books, with James Gunn’s friend and past collaborator Michael Rooker publicly offering his talents. There have been reports that Marvel may be looking for a more recognizable star, but at this point it’s an open race…”

    Michael Rooker is one of those actors that you may not always know by name, but will instantly recognize him by his face or VOICE. He’s a great choice, and BTW, his star is on the rise right now considering he’s on the BiGgEsT cable show in history, The Walking Dead! I think most viewers that go to the movie will recognize his voice coming out of any character.

  9. I can’t cross my fingers enough that they bring Michael Rooker on board as one of these characters!

  10. Frank the alien talking dog from Men in Black instantly became a fan favorite. People loved him so much, they made him a main character in MIB 2. Now what’s wrong with Rocket Raccoon? He too is a small alien talking animal who spits wise comments all over the place. He’s Frank with a gun. How is that not to like or understand?

    Agent J is to Frank as Peter Quill is to Rocket Raccoon.

    • Nothing, people are just making wild, leaping assumptions. They hear the word, “Disney” and “animal” and automatically think he will be like Mickey Mouse, Bambi, or Goofy. Anyone who can’t get past that obviously has zero clue who RR, Groot and the rest of the supporting cast of GotG are.

  11. I personally don’t want Statham as Rocket Racoon I again for the third time am hoping for Ray Liota