With their plucky cast of oddball characters, hysterical gags, and ‘70s pop soundtracks, the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are among the most popular in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re a strong defense against the recent anti-Marvel criticisms from Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola that their “despicable” movies are “not cinema.” The Guardians movies have real, tangible emotional arcs, constantly tugging on the audience’s heartstrings as well as tickling their ribs, and the personality of writer-director James Gunn can be seen plastered all over them. So, here are 10 Awesome Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Guardians Of The Galaxy Movies.
10 Chris Pratt improvised a lot of Peter Quill’s iconic moments
Chris Pratt was known for making use of his improvisational skills on Parks and Recreation, bringing an erratic, zany energy to Andy Dwyer, and he did the same when he started playing Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. He improvised giving the finger to the Kyln guards and saying, “I don’t know how this machine works,” and he ad-libbed the line about how a blacklight would make his ship look like a Jackson Pollock painting. Pratt also improvised dropping the Orb. He dropped it by accident, but he decided to stay in character instead of letting it ruin the take and it ended up becoming one of Quill’s most hilarious moments.
9 Ego’s planet was the biggest visual effect of all time
When the visual effects team behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was designing Ego’s planet for its depiction in the movie, they ended up incorporating over a trillion polygons. This led director James Gunn to declare it the biggest visual effect ever created. And if you think about all the dense, detailed, impressive visual effects seen in the rest of today’s blockbuster cinema landscape – not to mention in other entries in the MCU – that’s quite a monumental achievement. It must’ve taken some doing to make the planet with a face that is seen in the comics not look ridiculous.
8 Dave Bautista has to sit in a sauna to get his Drax makeup off
Dave Bautista was ecstatic when James Gunn cast him to play Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he has valiantly stood by the director through thick and thin ever since. During production of the first movie, Bautista’s makeup took three hours to apply every day. In the second one, the makeup team got it down to 90 minutes.
But either way, the actor is required to sit in a sauna after every single day of shooting and sweat off the makeup. It sounds like a hassle, but it’s probably really satisfying to feel it melt away at the end of a long day.
7 Star-Lord and Rocket were almost played by Always Sunny cast members
A jacked-up Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper with a thick New York accent turned out to be the ideal casting for Peter Quill and Rocket, respectively, but before they were cast, James Gunn considered two cast members from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Glenn Howerton (a.k.a. Dennis) for the role of Quill, and Danny DeVito (a.k.a. Frank) for the role of Rocket. Cooper plays Rocket as his own beast, drastically altering his voice to the point that you forget it’s Bradley Cooper and just see Rocket. DeVito would’ve undoubtedly played it with his New Jersey accent, which would’ve made it hard not to see him in the character. And there’s no way that Howerton would’ve been as perfect for the role of Quill as Pratt turned out to be.
6 The licensing cost of “Never Been to Spain” was too extortionate
Although the “Awesome Mix” soundtracks of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies come off as comprehensive playlists of James Gunn’s favorite songs, there are plenty of tracks that he has wanted to include in the movies that he hasn’t found the right scene for. These include songs by Queen, T. Rex, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Wonder. He wanted to use Three Dog Night’s “Never Been to Spain” in the first movie, and even found the perfect scene for it. However, Gunn said that when he looked into licensing the song to be used in the movie, “its price tag scared me off from even considering it.”
5 James Gunn knew Chris Pratt was perfect after less than a minute
When writer-director James Gunn and casting director Sarah Finn began selecting actors to play the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, Finn brought up Chris Pratt’s name during discussions about Star-Lord. However, Gunn saw Pratt as a comedy guy, owing to his slapstick-oriented role in NBC’s Parks and Recreation, and he was out of shape at the time. Eventually, Finn got Gunn to at least agree to meet with Pratt for a reading. Gunn said that less than a minute into the reading, he knew that Pratt was perfect for the part. And when the movie came out, fans concurred.
4 A lot of actors were considered for the role of Ego
When it came to casting the role of Ego, Peter Quill’s biological father and the true villain of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a ton of different actors were considered. Action movie stars around the same age and stature as the eventual choice, Kurt Russell, was also pondered, like Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Liam Neeson. Actors who have already played iconic comic book roles, like Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy), were also up for the part.
The casting team looked at both older actors, like Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, and younger actors, like Alec Baldwin, Viggo Mortensen, and Christoph Waltz. Even the legendary Robert De Niro was considered. The role of Ego was reportedly also offered to Matthew McConaughey, who chose to star in The Dark Tower instead.
3 Vin Diesel records his lines in several languages
When Hollywood movies get repackaged to be screened internationally, they get dubbed over in foreign languages by different actors. However, Vin Diesel figured that as long as his character was only ever going to utter one sentence (and a slight variant on that sentence in one scene), he might as well record the different languages himself – six languages in Vol. 1 and 16 languages in Vol. 2 – so that international audiences could hear Groot with the right voice. These languages include French, German, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Apparently, there’s also a Groot-to-English translation of every line in the script, so that Diesel knows which emotions and inflections to put into each delivery of the same line.
2 Stan Lee shot his Vol. 2 cameo on the same day as three others
According to James Gunn, Stan Lee shot his cameo appearance for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, portraying a Watcher who has been keeping an eye on the Avengers, on the same day that he shot three of his other MCU cameos. In addition to helming the Vol. 2 scene, Gunn directed two of the other cameos. One of them was for Doctor Strange, in which he plays a man on a bus when Stephen Strange and Wong fly into the window, and although he didn’t specify which the other one was, the movies being made around that time were Spider-Man: Homecoming, Captain America: Civil War, and Thor: Ragnarok.
1 Chris Pratt stole the Star-Lord costume to entertain sick kids
Chris Pratt reportedly stole his Star-Lord costume from the set of Guardians of the Galaxy, but redeemed himself with a really sweet reason for doing it: he wanted to be able to wear the authentic costume from the movie when he was visiting sick children in the hospital. Pratt is one of several Marvel actors to have taken his role as an icon to young kids seriously enough to visit their fans (sometimes also in costume) at children’s hospitals. Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and many others have all been known to do the same thing.