James Gunn (Slither, Super) has always been a comic book enthusiast and before he was pitched Guardians of the Galaxy, he had wanted to make a different movie with Marvel Studios, an even more obscure movie based on Hit Monkey. Even after Guardians of the Galaxy, a film Gunn hopes will launch spinoffs and expand into "other things," Gunn has very specific interests in what other comic book properties he'd like to adapt.
While Gunn had (and still has) a keen interest in making Hit Monkey and Thunderbolts - both Marvel properties - and DC/Vertigo's We3, he wasn't so sure of Guardians of the Galaxy at first. Note the obvious similarities to Guardians in that two of those properties feature animal characters, something Gunn is admittedly very fond of, and the other (Thunderbolts) is about a team of questionable characters much like Guardians. So, what convinced Gunn that he should take on Marvel Studios' first foray into deep space?
I had the opportunity to join a group of online media on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy last September where we spoke to some of the cast and crew of Marvel's next Phase 2 film and he told us the story of how he got the director's chair and what initially sold him on the idea. As it turns, it was that very first piece of official concept art that accompanied the film's announcement at Comic-Con 2012.
James Gunn: "I met with them, I think in July of 2011, something like that. I went down there and I had a meeting in Manhattan Beach. I probably just thought I would try to get in and get them to make a Hit Monkey movie again, which I tried to get them to do a few months beforehand (laughs).
I went down and they’re gonna be meeting with me about Guardians Of The Galaxy—okay, whatever. And I went and I sat down with Jeremy Latcham and Jonathan Schwartz, and they really pitched me pretty hard on Guardians. I really thought they were meeting with a lot of people and that it wasn't as serious as it was at the time. But they pitched me pretty hard and they showed me the art that had been done for Comic-Con that year, and that really spoke to me. I really liked that art work that Charlie Wen did."
"I kind of thought about it a little bit while I was sitting down with them, then I went home and then I really thought about it. And it just sort of came to me—not the story at all but the visuals of it. I really saw how I visually could see this film and how I could add my own voice to that and really create something different with it that still had some familiarity. So, I went home and I wrote this 15-page document on the visuals of Guardians Of The Galaxy and what would it be like, and what would it be like tonally. And what were the basics of what the characters would be like, and I sent it off to those guys and they really liked it.
Then I flew into North Carolina a couple days later. I had drawn up some storyboards and things like that and had a little presentation I did on my iPad, which I have never done, frankly. I have often attributed my success to the fact that I really—I’m trying to say it in the right way—I really don’t give a shit. If I get a gig or I don’t get a gig, I really have never, ever, ever cared. And this is the first time in my career, I know that I cared, which was terrifying to me because I really did care. I put myself out on the line and went there and did this little dog and pony show. Then I heard a few days later that I’d gotten the gig. But it was like, I knew at the time there there was five of us, I think, that were up at one point and then there was three of us. And then by the time I went to North Carolina there was two of us, and then there was me."
Was James Gunn a good pick by Marvel for Guardians of the Galaxy? What other comic book movie would you choose for him next?
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.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, 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.
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Source: James Gunn