With “Guardians of the Galaxy” hitting record highs on its opening weekend, it’s a very good time to be a Marvel fan — and an even better time to be part of the creative team that got the film off the ground. Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote the script with director James Gunn, stopped by the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International 2014 to discuss her work in the Marvel writer’s program, the long-shot/risky choice of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” her love of space exploration and science fiction, her “Challenger” script, female representation in Hollywood and more.
On how she developed her love of space exploration and science fiction: My dad was a huge science fiction fan, and he would have gatherings at his house for other science fiction fans. A lot of them had airspace backgrounds, so I would listen to stories about scientists and science fiction writers — the things they were talking about were absorbed into my bloodstream as I was growing up. It was a very science fiction-friendly house.
On how the Challenger accident affected her life: I think that Challenger, for people of our age group, was one of the major things that they thought about their mortality. “Where were you at?” is for Kennedy [assassination], 9/11 and for me and my friends — I felt that Challenger was that. I remember my parents took me to Arlington Cemetery to see the Challenger memorial and explained to me what had happened. I was just five at the time, and I think it was the first time I thought about what it meant in a tragic way. It made a pretty big impact on me.
[The script] just got re-optioned, so we’ll see. Knock on wood.
On her choice of “Guardians of the Galaxy” for the Marvel writing program: I think I wanted to do science fiction and it was the most science-fiction-y of the properties that were on the table. I was very drawn to the tone and the fun vibe of the 2008 reboot of the comics. There was also a sense that — it’s a risk to be a screenwriter, there’s a risk of — why do something creative if you’re not going to take risks at some point? I think if you put yourself out there to the world, it’s going to be a risk.
On female representation in Hollywood: I think about it in the sense that it’s rare that there are women doing this, and I think they need to be encouraged. There are plenty of women doing genre and sci-fi in television and web series and comics, but I think it’s less of a common thing for large tentpole movies. I think it’s just a matter of time. But one thing I want to be a part of is inspiring people to do this. There’s not a lot of mentorship — there aren’t a lot of women doing it that can help other women jump into the pool. That’s a big part of it. I think film will catch up to television and the other mediums eventually — but it’s so much money to make a big movie, whereas you can take risks a little bit easier [with other mediums]. Unfortunately — it’s terrible that it’s seen as a risk, but I think it’s still a little bit of an unknown for women to be the go-to, or just as equal as men in terms of their screenwriting and science fiction/genre chops. But I really do feel as though it’s a question of when, not if.