As members of the audience, we can’t help but fall into a movie’s story and get swept up by its characters. Such was the case with the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, a film that came out of nowhere to become an instant hit, a modern space opera saga for a new generation. Its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, turned the dial up to 11 and transported us further into this fascinating and colorful world. For us, it was only two hours that we spent, sitting, watching and maybe even judging the movie. But for the crew, it was countless hours of hard work.
Leave it to James Gunn to clue us in on the entire movie-making process. The director of both Guardians of the Galaxy movies more often than not interacts with his fans on social media, answering questions and cluing them in on his process as a filmmaker. On his Instagram page, he will often post a behind-the-scenes picture that was taken while filming his Marvel movies. Today, CBR takes a look at the director’s making-of process of Guardians Vol. 2 and highlights 15 of those pictures, which you really have to see to believe.
15. GETTING THE ANGLE JUST RIGHT
#GotGPicoftheDay In rehearsal, we needed to figure out the best way to shoot Yondu carrying Quill into the sky. I took photos from above while we rehearsed the scene. This was one of our early attempts. Watch the final at home on digital download today!! @prattprattpratt @michael_rooker #chrispratt #michaelrooker #gotg #gotgvol2 #movie #movies #film #directing #director #acting
If there was any doubt how meticulous James Gunn is when it comes to making his movies (hint: there never was), then this picture should be all you need to see to convince you. From the word go, Gunn knew that Yondu’s emotional sacrifice at the end of Vol. 2 would be an equally important, emotional and poignant moment in the film, and he wanted to get the scene exactly right.
Before the cameras ever rolled, Gunn and his actors, Chris Pratt and Michael Rooker, rehearsed the scene of Yondu flying Quill to safety, as the director took pictures to find the perfect angle to deliver this heartbreaking scene. And judging by the final results that left most of us in tears, it seems like all this hard work and preparation paid off.
14. NOT A CGI GROOT
With the adult version of Groot becoming an instant fan-favorite character in the first Guardians film, a great deal of care would be brought for the character’s long-awaited return in his Baby Groot form. While the character, just like his adult self, would be brought to digital life by the visual effects teams, it didn’t stop Gunn from having his very own Baby Groot on set to prepare his shots.
What is most fascinating about this picture featuring a Groot maquette is not only how easily it could be mistaken for an actual frame of the movie, but also how much it is a testament to the quality of the final product. In fact, the CGI Groot was so well made that you can sometimes forget that he isn’t a real walking and talking tree.
13. IT’S ALL IN THE MAKEUP DETAILS
While Yondu was a secondary character in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he got promoted to a starring role in the sequel. It couldn’t have been easy for Michael Rooker to bring this character to life in a bigger capacity, especially with an arduously long makeup process, and on top of that spending hours on end on the movie’s set covered in blue.
On this picture, it’s easy to see how detailed Yondu’s makeup actually was, to make sure that he would look like a real, living, breathing blue-colored alien. It wasn’t just about applying a coat of blue body paint like some sort of Blue Man Group process. Rooker’s makeup was finely detailed, to make sure that every one of his scenes made us feel angry, proud and heartbroken, just like his character was.
12. JAMES GUNN’S BABY GROOT DANCE
Ah yes, another video of me doing the motion reference work for #BabyGroot. Believe it or not, I actually did three different versions of this dance at three different times. The first time was when I first wrote the scene, in my office st home, recorded by @simonlikes on his iPhone. That one was mostly so that I could remember the camera angles and camera movements I had in my head while writing than it did the actual dance. The second time was on set in Atlanta with a single camera and our visual effects team. That time it was doing the dance full out – there were some bits and pieces we used – but because Groot is moving and the camera was stable I was only able to travel for very short periods. And so we did it again, this time in Los Angeles, with many cameras lined down a long space so that I could actually do all the long walks and jumps Groot was doing. That's when this is from. For those of you who've asked, bits of the dance were ideas of things I had in my head, or things designed for the already planned camera movies, but most of it was free form made up on the spot. The other question I've gotten asked a lot is whether or not I was just doing my regular dancing or was it in character. The answer is of course in character – I think you can see clearly in this video I'm trying to move my body that works for a little tree more than what I'd be dancing like in a nightclub in L.A. This is of course all courtesy of the visual effects company @framestore who turned this stuff into something magical, creating one of the most impressive single shots ever. #GuardiansoftheGalaxyVol2 is still out in theaters so go see it again this weekend! #gotgvol2 #GotGPicoftheDay #fbf #flashbackfriday #friday #instagood #filmmaking #movie #movies #dancing #love
One of the now most famous scenes from Guardians Vol. 1 was the mid-credits scene of a young Groot dancing as he avoided the judgmental gaze of Drax the Destroyer. The scene quickly gained traction and popularity when it was revealed that this Baby Groot’s legendary moves were taken directly from the director himself, James Gunn.
For the sequel, Gunn outdid himself with an opening tracking sequence that was as mesmerizing as it was genius. To achieve this, the director once again had to go into character, and perform the most epic dance moves to bring Baby Groot to rhythmic life once more. In this video, you can see how devoted the director is to his craft, and how seriously he takes the responsibility of making the most memorable movie possible… no matter which judgmental gaze falls upon him.
11. REHEARSING A ROCKET SCENE
#GotGPicoftheDay #Rehearsal for the "Your name is Taserface?!" scene on the Ravagers' ship with @thejudgegunn (Rocket), Chris Sullivan (Taserface), @michael_rooker (Yondu) and @karengillanofficial (Nebula). We do everything exactly as it will be done for camera, prepping down to the most minute detail, making sure the planned dialogue and camera angles work. The tape on the floor are the outlines of the various sets in different colors. #behindthescenes #movie #movies #marvel #marvelstudios #directing #filmmaking #film #cinema #gotg #guardiansofthegalaxy #guardiansofthegalaxyvol2 #gotgvol2
Rocket may be everyone’s favorite crazed and gun-toting raccoon, but it takes a lot to bring him to life. You may be familiar with his Bradley Cooper voice, but that is something that is added much later on, once the cameras of principal photography have stopped rolling. But Rocket wasn’t like Groot. He wasn’t just a maquette for reference. He was played by a very human person.
Whether in rehearsal or actually on set, Rocket was played by the director’s brother Sean Gunn, who you might also recognize as Kraglin. The actor helped create the character by giving him his very own personality and a body reference for when the special effects teams would have to replace him with a furry little beast. Not only that, he was also present so that all the other actors actually had someone to play off of.
10. STALLONE VS ROOKER SELFIE BATTLE
Never say that a movie set is a place where you can never have fun. Even if none other than Sylvester Stallone is on that set. The famous veteran actor was brought onto the franchise to portray Stakar Ogord, a superior Ravager officer to Michael Rooker’s Yondu Udonta. In the very short time we get to see these two characters interact, you can sense that there is a long relationship between the two.
That relationship may just be attributed to these two actors, who have a shared past and who can clearly have a lot of fun together. In-between scenes, you can see that, especially in costume, you can’t keep Stallone and Rooker from having their very own little selfie competition. We don’t know who won, but that doesn’t matter, because the real winner is this picture right here.
9. BLUE SCREEN STUNT PERFORMERS
As fascinating as it is to watch your favorite Marvel movie and your favorite superheroes perform impossible feats in the far reaches of space, the truth of the matter is that the movie was made by hundreds of humans, each more important than the last. Stunt performers are a crucial part of any movie, and they are people you will never actually see on-screen.
Pictured here is one of those performers, who needed to be covered head-to-toe in blue screen material so that they can either be painted over for the scene, or removed completely. As Gunn says in his caption, it may not be the most flattering piece of fabric out there, but these people wear them and they give it their all to help contribute to a massive production that resulted in a wonderfully exciting film.
8. REHEARSING WITH CHRIS PRATT
#GotGPicoftheDay Going over Quill's dialogue with @prattprattpratt, weeks before shooting. If you're wondering what all the colorful lines are on the floor, they're the specific shapes and sizes of the various sets so we could rehearse properly with the whole gang. #guardiansofthegalaxyvol2 #gotgvol2 #gotg #behindthescenes #movie #movies #film #filmmaking #starlord #chrispratt
The heart of a movie, especially one like Guardians of the Galaxy, isn’t in the space battles or the explosions. It’s in the characters, and the quiet moments that inform and fuel them. These moments are just as important as any set piece because these are the moments that make you care about the characters. James Gunn knows this, which is why he spent as much time rehearsing his smaller scenes.
We see him here, sitting alone with Chris Pratt. We’re not certain what the subject of the exchange was, but the picture does seem to hint that this was a moment as important and as big as any other. We already know that it’s crucial for Gunn to get everything right, and this is just further proof that everything needs to be ready before he shouts “action.”
7. PUPPETEERING FLIGHT
It turns out, flying in space may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Apparently, there is a lack of oxygen there that can make it difficult for anyone, let alone an entire film crew, to film scenes there. So, for all of these amazing scenes where you saw Star-Lord flying and heading straight towards danger, Chris Pratt was actually attached to a harness in front of a blue screen.
Once again, this picture shows us that just about any scene of a movie is a group effort. Even something as simple as having a character fly needs a puppeteer to steer the ship – er, human. But even more than that, this picture is proof that James Gunn could easily have a complete CGI model of Star-Lord flying, but he chose to go the practical effect route as much as he could.
6. A SLIME-COVERED DRAX
I will be posting a #GotGPicoftheDay every day from now through the movie opening. They'll be composed of behind-the-scene shots from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 I took on my iPhone, my Leica Q, and a few select unseen set stills. Here's the first one, Dave Bautista (Batista) as Drax in quite a mess. This was uncomfortable as all get out for Dave but, as usual, he puts up with many feats of discomfort to make the Guardians great. #GotGVol2 #Drax #movies
For his role as Drax The Destroyer, Dave Bautista already had to go through a very long makeup process every day. If ever that affects his mood, we would never know, because Drax has easily become the funniest character of the Guardians movies. Always laughing and appearing to enjoy everything, Drax brings with him an infectious joy, and it’s all thanks to Bautista.
In the opening segment of Guardians Vol. 2, Drax finds himself inside the monstrous Abilisk, and emerges from its carcass covered in slime. Such a gooey process must not have been particularly pleasant for the actor (on top of his usual amount of makeup), but if ever it bothered him, it didn’t show in his performance. Once again, Drax emerged victorious, with a grin on his face and roaring with laughter.
5. A CAST CAN HAVE SOME FUN
It’s a well-known reality that actors can spend incredibly long hours on a movie’s set. Whether they are waiting for a set to be ready or just in-between takes to get something just right, it can be possible for them to succumb to the arduousness of long work days. But, like their cinematic counterparts, the cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy know how to keep things lively and have fun.
Whether you’re looking at Zoe Saldana balancing perfectly on Chris Pratt’s back, Dave Bautista looking on laughing or acting legend Kurt Russell giving them the finger-guns seal of approval, there is little doubt that this cast had a great time together. The heart and soul of Guardians was in the idea that these characters are a family, and pictures like this illustrate where the idea came from.
4. BUILDING AYESHA’S THRONE
Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha may have been a departure from what she was and looked like in the Marvel comic books, but leave it to James Gunn to re-imagine her character to be visually striking and imposing all at the same time. As High Priestess of the Sovereign, Ayesha had an amazing introduction, with a costume and a throne that seemed to be one and the same.
It was only when she would rise from that throne that we would see the difference, where one ended and the other began. To that end, the construction of the throne had to be meticulous as well an ingenious. This picture shows us the already amazing makeup on the actress that had to be done in advance to make sure the throne would be just the right color, and just the right design.
3. LOVEBOTS MAKEUP
We’ve already seen the incredible results of the makeup artists who managed to convincingly bring to life characters like Drax, Ayesha and Yondu, but those were all main characters of the film. What about secondary and background characters, extras who are not necessarily the focus of the camera? Well, thanks to this picture, you can see that even a nameless character received as much detail and attention.
The lovebots from the Iron Lotus, of the planet Contraxia, were given a bit of screen time as part of Yondu’s journey. Dozens of them could be seen, and each looked more real than the next. Such an approach to the makeup, costuming and practical effects only goes to show how devoted James Gunn and his crew were to making the best, most realistic space opera superhero movie out there.
2. A PILE OF BONES AND SKULLS (AND VON SPEARS)
We now know how much James Gunn likes to use practical effects to bring his fantastical movies to life, even if those movies include a scene of a giant pile of bones of discarded progenies of all sorts of species, laid to waste by an omnipotent father who happens to be a living planet hellbent on using his children to enact his master plan.
That very pile of alien bones is pictured here, spearheaded by a very different kind of creature. This adorable dog goes by the name of Von Spears, and he is James Gunn’s partner in crime. If you are looking for more of this cuddly pup, you can scour the director’s Instagram page to see dozens more pictures of him that will show you just how much the little fella means to him.
1. THE MAN
Doing my pal Scott Derrickson a solid and shooting #StanLee's cameo for #DoctorStrange. Stan laughing at The Doors of Perception was what ended up in the #film, but we shot other options, such as – – Stan reading a book and leaning into the guy next to him, saying, "Do you know what #excelsior means?" – Stan throwing his head back and laughing as hard as he can, yelling, "I'm laughing for no reason! I'm totally crazy!" – And, my favorite, Stan laughing hysterically at a #Garfield book, hooting, "He HATES Mondays but he LOVES lasagna!" Supposedly that one was in the film for a while, but it ended up being too long for the scene. Happy Thursday! #tbt #throwbackthursday #GotGPicoftheDay #marvel #marvelstudios
If shooting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t enough, James Gunn also found time to contribute to the larger whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by filming Stan Lee’s cameo for the Doctor Strange film. If you remember correctly, that scene featured Stan “The Man” Lee laughing and reading a book in a bus as Stephen Strange smacked into his window.
Stan Lee’s cameos are always something to look forward to, in any Marvel movie, in part because of how infectiously cheerful and merry the iconic writer and creator is. The fact that he always looks forward to appearing in these movies makes his scenes all the more endearing, and how much fun he is seen having on set is a marvel all its own. ‘Nuff said.
What are your favorite moments from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Let us know in the comments!
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