Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
In September 2013, I traveled to London to visit the set of Marvel Studios’ upcoming comic book adaptation Guardians of the Galaxy. On set, I was transported to new worlds with many different alien races, boarded a 3-mile long spacecraft, and talked with the cast and crew who were creating the magic you will see on screen this August.
I learned a ton of interesting bits about the making of the film, too many to count. (For example, it took a team of five make-up artists three and a half hours to apply Dave Batista’s body make-up each day, so in the 49 days of the shoot Batista spent over seven complete days worth of minutes in the makeup chair.)
After the jump you can read many other facts about the production of the film from development to casting, to special effects. I also recorded a video blog after the visit to give you a more opinionated reaction to what we had seen. And be on the lookout for interview transcripts with a bunch of the key cast and crew which will be posted on the site all this week. For now, read my full Guardians of the Galaxy set visit report after the jump.
Before you get to the heavy info, watch a video blog reaction I recorded with Steve from Collider. Above is a shot of me and Steve, along with the other journalists on the visit, with director James Gunn and star Dave Batista in full make-up as Drax in front of Ronin’s throne in the Dark Aster space ship set.
We visited the set on September 25th 2013, built at Pinewood Shepperton Studios, which is located 45 minutes outside of downtown London. It was day 67 out of 77 days of principal photography. At that point, only about three weeks of production were left. We conducted our interviews on the B stage; pieces of Rapunzel’s tower set from Into the Woods were off in the corner, as the film was also shooting at the same studio.
Signs were up around the studio lot with the company name “Infinity Works Productions UK LTD.”
The working title for the film was “Full Tilt”. The Full Tilt logo was also all over the studio, and looks like something a hair metal band might’ve had in the 1980s.
The film is shot in 2:35:1 widescreen, which James Gunn admits has posed some problems especially when fitting the short Rocket Racoon and tall Groot in the same frame.
James Gunn compared making this movie to a Nirvana song, going from slow and long to big and fast. He tried for longer takes to accomplish this pacing.
Gunn had previously pitched a Hit Monkey movie to Marvel, but they weren’t interested.
When James Gunn first met with Marvel in July of 2011, he wasn’t really interested in making Guardians. They pitched him very hard on Guardians, and showed him the art that had been created for Comic Con that year. He really liked it; when he went home he kept thinking about it and saw how he could add his voice to that. Gunn then wrote a 15-page document about what the film would be tonally, and how the characters would be. A few days later he flew into North Carolina and did a presentation on his laptop, something that he has never done before. And a few days later he heard he was getting the gig. He wrote Joss an email saying he really wanted the gig and asked him for help. Joss said Gunn was too late; Whedon had already put a good word in for him.
Joss Whedon had some little involvement in the writing process for Guardians — James Gunn worked with him to mold the script. Everyone loved Gunn’s original script… except for Joss Whedon, who said he liked it but that it was too conventional and “it needed more James Gunn.” So Gunn took another pass and really went for it.
Pratt says the script only changed 10 – 15 percent from when he was first approached for the role and the final shooting draft. The actor says “It was pretty damn sharp to begin with.”
The movie is described as not a superhero movie, but a big space opera/adventure movie. A fun movie with a good sense of humor, but it’s a real universe with real stakes that the audience will hopefully identify with. Zoe Saldana calls the movie a dark comedy, kinda like the Rolling Stones of the Marvel Universe.
Gunn feels that Blade Runner and Alien changed how science fiction movies looked. Since their release we are mostly watching xeroxes of xeroxes. While Gunn liked the grittiness of those movies, he wanted to bring back some of the color of the ’50s and ’60s pulp movies.
We were told the ending action sequence is probably the biggest one Marvel has ever done to date. The Avengers battle of New York may technically be longer but this action sequence is bigger in scope.