Dark Aster

Planets and Spacecraft

The film will visit five alien planets, but we see hundreds of different alien races. James Gunn wanted most of the planets to feel very multicultural.

The villain’s spaceship is called the Dark Aster, it is about three miles wide (pictured above). Ronan’s Necrocraft fleet of fighters crowd around Dark Aster, moving in swarm-like patterns. The Dark Aster set is huge, shot across two different connected stages. The design looks very Alien-inspired, dark concrete with intricate designs and grates. At some point in the movie, Ronan bathes in a bath of black celestial blood.

Peter Sciretta on the set of Ronin's throne in the dark aster on Guardians of the Galaxy

The scene we saw shooting was on the Dark Aster flight deck, shot 201, involving our heroes squaring off against Ronan. We saw them shoot the match cut of a weapon being fired at Ronan. The shot was filmed in reverse with an extremely fast dolly away from Ronan (it will shoot towards him in the final film as the shot will play in reverse.) Above is a photo of me barely trying to look menacing on the set of Ronin’s throne in the Dark Aster.

Peter Quill tracks an orb which he attempts to steal from temple ruins on the deserted Planet of Morag. (This is the sequence seen in the Comic Con piece, and in trailers.) Planet Morag is a world inspired by ’60s chic. We only see the living version of the planet in a hologram.

Peter Quill's space ship is called the Milano

Peter Quill’s space ship is called the Milano, a small one-man space craft which looks very slick.

We meet Rocket and Groot for the first time on Planet Xander.

Xander is a utopian world, a part of the galaxy worth saving. Xander is the home planet for the whole galaxy, and is also where Nova Corps is based.

Kyln - Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians of the Galaxy end up in a galactic prison called “The Kyln” which is where they meet Drax The Destroyer. Kyln was created on stage as a 360 degree practical set. The Guardians team up for the first time to attempt a big prison break.

The Kyln is down and dirty and as real looking as possible for a galactic prison. All the prisoners are wearing yellow jump suits with individual barcodes (“crime bars”) that are printed on the leg of the costumes. The costumer designer explained that prisoners that have more barcode-looking crime bars have been convicted of more crimes. These kind of details are designed in the costumes but probably never explained in the movie.

The Kylm set involved a second second assistant director (that’s not a typo, for those not familiar with some on-set roles) named Michael who has worked with Stanley Kubrick, here doing crowd control with hundreds of extras. There is a long one-shot on a dolly crane, which follows characters in to the set, catches a fight break out, circles around the prison as we see many things going on in within, and ends on Star Lord’s face taking it all in. Pratt Called this the most amazing moment of the shoot.

Knowhere - guardians of the galaxy

On the Knowhere, they mine spinal fluid from a killed head of a sentient being. According to Marvel:

No one knows exactly how Knowhere came to be, but it is the last known place in all creation. It drifts closer to the edge of the universe until one day it will cease to exist, but before that happens, all different species from all different points in space and time come to Knowhere to study and observe the end of the universe from the closest accessible structure.

They will be integrating many more computer-generated characters in the backgrounds of each sequence to help balance out the practical cast of made-up humans against Rocket and Groot.

Guardians of the Galaxy


Thousands of costumes were created specially for the film, hundreds of thousands of pieces of costume in total. This is the most of any Marvel movie so far as it’s the first to be set almost entirely away from Earth. Almost everything has to look alien. One day of shooting involved three hundred costumed actors on set.

Quill’s look is from a group of people who adopted him called The Ravagers. The Ravagers are like space pirates, a Mad Max bunch of people. Their clothing has texture and age to it. The costume designer used many references, from cowboys to World War II fighter pilots for the look. James Gunn wanted Quill to have a lot of technology in his clothing, and wanted everything to look functional. He has boosters built into his boots. Quill’s mask was interpreted from the many versions in the comics.

We got to see the movie versions of the Nova Corps badges: Corpsman has a line across, Denarian is a millennial with a cross, Centurion is a cross with diagonal lines coming out from the top. Nova Prime is a full star.

In the costume department, we spotted Captain America, Thor and Loki costumes hung up in the corner. The costumer designer joked that they are there just for reference.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Special Effects Make-Up

The movie relies heavily on special effects make-up. They had 56 special effects make-up artists on set one day. 80 life casts were created for this film.  Over 2000 humanoid alien moulds have been created. All the pieces are percolated to each race in files in the make-up department. By the end of shoot the special effects make-up department would have done an about 1250 total prosthetic makeup applications.

Drax the Destroyer explains what his tattoos mean in a scene in the movie. Drax sees something in the tattoo-like etchings on his character’s body that everyone else doesn’t see. It’s a funny comic moment.

Drax's tattoo

Drax’s tattoo make-up involves 18 pieces of appliance for the body and face. It takes  a team of 5 makeup artists three and a half hours to apply Drax’s makeup application. By the end of the shoot, Drax would have been on camera for approximately 49 days, times that by the hours it takes to make him up and Dave Batista spent 7 solid days in the makeup chair for the film. The day we were on set, the make-up team set a record by applying Drax’s makeup in only 2 hours and 45 minutes. It started out taking 4.5-5 hours to put on. The paint that goes all the way up and over his lips. Batista says it tastes like rubbing alcohol.

A group of silicone technicians are making around 20 to 30 pieces of special effects make-up appliances a day, 100 to 150 a week.  It takes 1 person 2 days to make Nebula make-up appliances which consists of 7 pieces.

Karen Gillian in guardians of the galaxy

Karen Gillian has to have her head shaved every time she is on set to play Nebula. Nebula has cybernetic arm and eye but her personality remains normal.  It takes about four and a half hours to apply Gillan’s makeup, down from over five when they first began shooting.

Zoe Saldana had seven or eight camera tests with different makeup jobs as they explored to find how alien they wanted Gamora to look in the film. They spent a lot of time trying to find a green color paint for Gamora because the color changes in various different lighting conditions and they needed to find something that had a more consistent look. Saldana’s main concern was that since she was the lead female role, she wanted teenage boys to find her attractive and not be repulsed by alien makeup.

Continue Reading /Film’s Guardians of the Galaxy Set Visit Report >>

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