You may have not known it, but Marvel knew it when it came to forecasting the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite the property’s characters being lesser known commodities and despite the unusual choice of August to release another blockbuster, Marvel Studios had so much faith in director James Gunn that they came to Comic-Con last week and announced Guardians of the Galaxy 2 before the first one even hit theaters.

Then, it did hit theaters, setting multiple world box office records for a feature releasing in August and for Thursday advanced openings.  Now, Guardians of the Galaxy sits as the third largest opening of the year and as one of the highest scored by critics from Marvel to date. Needless to say, co-writer and director James Gunn couldn’t be happier about the life-changing experience, having only directed smaller budget features Slither and Super before now.

Taking to his Facebook page early yesterday as the impressive box office estimates for Guardians rolled in, Gunn had a lot to say in thanking fans for supporting his “oddball” team and for thanking the cast, crew and high-ups at Marvel for making Guardians of the Galaxy what it is today.

Thanks to all of you who saw (and are seeing) Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, from the bottom of my heart. The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you. And, today, I think we’re doing okay.

I am of course happy with all the film has accomplished box-office-wise. But what touches me the most is that the film I told the folks at Marvel I wanted to make two years ago is the film that you’re seeing in theaters today – it’s that so many of you seem to be directly EXPERIENCING the film I INTENDED. The cast, the producers, the crew, and I felt like we were making something special while we were making it. But it is very rare that a director’s INTENTIONS in creating a film, or a scene, or a character, or a line of dialogue are, seemingly, specifically what is experienced by an audience (not to mention critics!), and that seems to be what has happened here. You have allowed a talking raccoon – for a moment, a minute, or a day – to make you a little more human. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

If I relied on myself to implement these intentions, the film would be a shambling mess. But instead, I had a wonderful cast, genius producers, an incredibly brave studio, sublimely talented visual effects artists, great editors, and the best damn crew of mostly-British bastards to actually implement these intentions for me. Where I had a good idea they would, through alchemy, transform it into a great one. Many of you involved are friends of mine on Facebook. Many of you will read this somewhere else. I love you all.

You may remember me posting here a couple weeks ago how sad I was to be finishing up the film, that I was having trouble letting go of Rocket, and that I was going to miss him. But seeing him (and Groot, and the rest of the team) embraced by the world like they have been, to be UNDERSTOOD, makes it a wonderful letting go. It’s like giving a foster pet up for adoption to the most wonderful parents in the world.

And, of course, I’m not really saying goodbye as, while many of you have been enjoying the film, I’ve spent this weekend hard at work on the sequel. I couldn’t help myself! The results are nice but it’s really the creative process I love and that keeps me going. I’m on fire with this thing! The Guardians have so many hardships and heartaches and triumphs ahead of them, and I can’t wait to share them with all of you.

Onto week two…

Love, James

In just over a week, Marvel’s next new property to enter development, Ant-Man, begins shooting and it’s battling through quite a few obstacles with writer and director Edgar Wright exiting the project just as it was initially scheduled to start. While Wright couldn’t make the movie he wanted to make since it didn’t fit within Marvel’s plans, Gunn very much got to make his own movie. A lot of that may have to do with it taking place off-earth but even in pre-production, Joss Whedon’s advice for Guardians was to make it “more James Gunn.” Looks like that worked.

Here are a few more official Guardians of the Galaxy stills if you missed ’em:

More: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Easter Eggs

Guardians of the Galaxy is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28 2017, November 3 2017, May 4 2018, July 6 2018, November 2 2018 and May 3 2019.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

Source: James Gunn