"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is now out in cinemas and to mark the occasion the New York Times took a moment with the film's director, James Gunn, to go over one sequence that references the classic crop-duster scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 thriller "North by Northwest." Gunn explained that he initially did not intend to crib from the work of the master of suspense.
"When I was writing the screenplay I originally wrote a different action sequence between Nebula and Gamora and I came upon the idea for this one, I think, through watching 'North by Northwest,'" Gunn said. "I decided to rewrite the action sequence between the two of them. But instead of rewriting it, I simply drew it. As a writer-director I oftentimes draw the scenes first as opposed to writing them because that’s more true to the form that they end up being in."
However, the scene doesn't just pay homage to one of the greats of 20th century cinema -- there is also a reference to a more modern classic. "I had seen the Rock do his thing with a giant blaster in 'Fast and Furious 7' which is my friend James Wan’s film," Gunn said, "and I decided to one-up that with Zoe Saldana grabbing a gun that’s eight times as big as the Rock’s gun."
But aside from the sisterly one-upmanship, the "Guardians" director had some very specific aims for the sequence as a whole. "It really is the culmination of two movies’ worth of hatred between sisters who do not get along," he said, "This first manifests itself in a physical fight here and then leads to an emotional scene where Nebula breaks down. You thought she was the bad guy the whole time. But you realize that actually she was the one who was wronged by her sister when she was young and she’s the one who, in a lot of ways, is the victim in the relationship."
That emotional journey was even echoed in the color design for the scene, as Gunn explained, "I didn’t want the design to be too monotonous. So every single level has its own distinct color. On the outside, we have the teals and oranges that we have through much of the movie. We go inside to the reds and the burnt siennas, which then fall through to the deeper blue colors below. And we actually did this. There are a lot of visual effects in the movie but there’s also a lot of sound stages [where] we created sets with huge rock formations. We shot the different parts of this scene at very different times because we had to recolor the rock formations every day when we were shooting the different levels."
Starring Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Glenn Close as Irani Rael and Kurt Russell as Ego, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is in cinemas now.