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58 Things We Learned from James Gunn’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Commentary

“It means Kurt Russell made love to a turtle.”
Commentary Guardians Of The Galaxy
By  · Published on August 23rd, 2017

30. Early drafts of the script had Quill (Pratt) quickly believing Ego’s story and Gamora as the cynical one, but he found clarity in the tale when he swapped the two.

31. The scene between Drax and Mantis where he calls her ugly originally included a short piece of dialogue where she details the love she feels from him for his friends, “and it was a beautiful speech, but when I cut it out of the moment I found that the moment was more potent, that we felt everything she was saying just by seeing her face and seeing the two of them.”

32. Gunn says we’re all invited to any party at his house.

33. There was a question as to whether or not they should keep the shot of Retch (Gunn’s friend, Evan Jones) stomping on Baby Groot, “but Baby Groot’s about to brutally murder that guy so we figured we’d leave it in.”

34. “It was hard to make space underpants,” he says because they didn’t want them to resemble earth underpants too closely. So they took the fly out.

35. There are two sequences that “were drawn more than written.” The first is Yondu’s (Michael Rooker, who’s a close friend of Gunn’s) whistle arrow slaughter of the mutinous ravagers, and the other is the big brawl between Gamora and Nebula.

36. They shot a post-credits sequence showing Mantis and Gamora talking while someone screams in the distance before revealing that it’s a still-living Gef (friend to Gunn, Steve Agee) who somehow survived Yondu’s arrow assault. They cut it because “the callback was too small of a moment,” but he’s leaving open the possibility that the character may return.

37. “I never know what comics fans are going to get upset about,” he says in regard to the size of Yondu’s fin in the first film, “so in a nod to the fans” Yondu gets the bigger one here in the sequel.

38. There were far more technically difficult scenes, but the two hardest scenes for him to shoot were the dance attempt between Quill and Gamora and the emotional talk between Rocket and Yondu. “I had to keep shooting and shooting and pushing and pushing. I think one of the roles of a director is really to push people further than they think they can go, and on this day I incredibly exhausted Chris and Zoe. I kept pushing them and making them do it again and again and again and again until I got the performance I wanted.”

39. Yes, the scene where Gamora is sitting in the field only to see a flying craft (piloted by Nebula) approach and chase her down was inspired by Alfred Hitchock’s North by Northwest. An equal inspiration was Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs Spy” strip.

40. He told Gillan when she came in for the first film that while the character only appears briefly there his plans for later films was to make Nebula into a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s sometimes an empty promise from a filmmaker, either by intent or circumstance, but he knew the character would grow substantially and convinced her of the same.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Nebula (Karen Gillan)..Ph: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2017

41. “Brandy” by Looking Glass has been a favorite song of his for a long time, starting mostly one night in college after doinking his girlfriend and driving home. The song came on the car radio, and he identified with it having really listened to the lyrics for the first time. “It spoke to my own life that I was not going to stay in St. Louis and I was not going to stay with this woman. My love was the sea.” There’s a humorous, inspirational element to it, but he acknowledges that the feeling has remained through his life leaving him unable to find the same kind of shared love as others as he instead focuses on his “love” for film-making and entertainment. “I’m trying to combat some of that in my life. I’m trying to be a person who allows love into my life, that allows friendship [cough], that I’m able to have fun sometimes and that not everything about my life is work. It’s a personal struggle for me, so I relate to that song.”

42. Stan Lee with the Watchers “doesn’t mean Stan Lee is a Watcher,”, but “who knows what Stan Lee is.”

43. Baby Groot’s vomit moment is a nod to Gunn’s roots in B-movies and how he’s “not unwilling to resort to the lowest common denominator which is a baby tree vomiting.”

44. He believes that Ego feels emotions like love, compassion, sadness, and more, “but he doesn’t ever let those things affect his primary choice. I think that makes him an interesting character.”

45. Dairy Queen is not here as “product placement.” It’s a place that reminds Gunn of his childhood, and it’s meant as a marker to encourage memories of youth and the 80s. “I will never make product placement more important than the story I’m telling.”

46. He says the two best actors capable of being on set and pretending to be doing something — acting out something that won’t actually come to life until the CG is added — are Rooker and Saldana.

47. The look of the inner core of Ego’s planet is based on the Mandelbrot set art by Hal Tenny.

48. There are over half a trillion polygons in the creation of Ego’s planet. I don’t know what this means exactly.

49. His family cameos in the scene back on Earth as the big blob busts through town. “Basically I kill my entire family.”

50. That’s Gunn’s long-time friend Gregg Henry returning to cameo as Quill’s grandfather in the minivan at 1:51:51. They shot a scene showing him rescue a woman and try to escape in the van, but it was cut for pacing.

51. There were several variations as to what Ego would look like at the planet’s core. “He was this sort of zygote, sperm-looking thing for a long time,” but they eventually went with the brain instead.

52. “I didn’t want to kill Yondu in this movie,” he says. “I just didn’t want to do it.” The main reason? Because Rooker’s been in every movie he’s made so far, and killing him here means he won’t be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Early script drafts had Yondu sacrifice himself and then be saved, “but it created something that felt to me very false, very not true, and at the end of the day my ultimate commitment is to the story.” My money’s on Rooker cameoing in part three beneath some alien makeup.

53. He loves Yondu’s smile at 1:57:47 and thinks it’s one of his favorite Rooker moments ever. “You don’t him smile very much in film unless he’s laughing at someone for something terrible.”

54. His very favorite moment in the film is Nebula’s brief return of a hug to Gamora.

55. Stallone asked how his line at Yondu’s viking funeral should be delivered, and Gunn replied “‘Have you seen the movie Babe?’ and he said ‘Yeah!’ I’m like this is you saying ‘That’ll do pig.'” My favorite part of this anecdote is the image of Stallone watching Babe.

56. The end credits are themed after old album covers.

57. An early treatment for the film saw Ayesha create Adam Warlock much earlier making him an actual character in the film, “but it was one character too many.” He loves the character though “and can’t wait to unleash him upon the MCU.” Warlock is a part of the Infinity War comic story line but was never going to be in the film.

58. The song over the end credits is written by Gunn and is his first pop song. This probably means there will be a second.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“My promise to the fans is really that these Guardians of the Galaxy films are going to keep changing, they’re gonna be different, they’re going to evolve, they’re not going to remain the same.”

“I get a lot of questions on social media asking me what kind of candy is Baby Groot eating. Is that Skittles, is that M&Ms, and the answer is no. It is space candy.”

“There on the left you have Jimmy Urine.”

“The MCU is not the same as the Marvel Comics Universe.”

“I do not know if I’ve ever written any character who an actress has come in and more completely fulfilled that role perfectly.”

“I don’t buy into the belief that practical is always best. It isn’t.”

“My Snapchat followers were very excited about his appearance in the movie!”

“My direction for Baby Groot in this scene was ‘you know when you see a baby in a movie who’s like looking around and he obviously doesn’t know he’s being filmed?’ I wanted him to be like that.”

“If you look closely in those skulls you’ll see some pretty, pretty cool Easter eggs.”

“I love that shot of Baby Groot crying it’s so sad.”

Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on 4K Ultra/Blu-ray from Amazon.

Final Thoughts

This is another unsurprisingly fantastic commentary from Gunn, and it’s a highly recommended listen for fans of the film. He shares numerous anecdotes, technical knowledge, and plenty of inspirational observations on his work and personal attitudes. And if you listen between the lines, he also mentions his friends.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.