All photos courtesy of Marvel Studios
With the release of GUARDIANS THE GALAXY VOL. 2 just around the corner (read our review here), fans are chomping at the bit to know the details about the highly anticipated sequel. Well, the Tracking Board was invited to partake in the Guardians press conference where Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Zoe Saldana, Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Kelementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, director James Gunn, and producer Kevin Feige gave some juicy details about the movie, the future of the Guardians and their place in the MCU, and Pratt’s opinion about being sexually objectified.
Chris Pratt doesn’t mind geeking out when he meeting Hollywood icons
Kurt Russell is a Hollywood legend and Pratt is very aware of that. Instead of being reserved when he first met the Big Trouble in Little China action star he made sure that he geeked out and gushed about how much he loved him because it’s the healthy thing to do.
“You promise yourself you’re not going to do this thing that happens every time you meet someone who’s an icon, someone that you’ve known way longer than they’ve ever known you,” said Pratt. “You’ve seen all their stuff, and you have this opportunity, from time to time, to work with someone like a Kurt Russell. And you promise yourself you’re not going to do the thing where you geek out, but it’s a little inauthentic if you don’t.”
He continues, “If [I were to] just go in there like, ‘Oh? What is it, Kurt? Hey, nice to meet you, Chris,’ and I don’t acknowledge how much I love him and what a fan I am, if you don’t get that out of the way, then it feels a little inauthentic.”
Pratt immediately let Russell know that he was a long-time admirer of his work. He said that it allows them to move forward and become friends and peers rather than a fan.
“I think Kurt and I have become friends…and I will give everyone in here his cell phone number,” Pratt jokes.
Gunn doesn’t want this to be a carbon copy of the first
With the success of the first Guardians movie, director and writer James Gunn didn’t want to do a rehash of the original — which he says so many sequels are. He realized that there is a certain challenge and that he wanted to continue the story of the characters instead of just repeating memorable moments from the first movie.
“[Sequels] kind of do the same thing the first movie did, with a different template,” said Gunn. “And so they say, ‘Oh, people liked the dance-off in the first movie, so what’s our version of the dance-off? People liked “We are Groot” in the first movie, what’s our version of “We Are Groot?”‘ And instead of doing that, we really tried to let these characters grow and change. We want to watch them become new people and different people in every film that we come up with.”
He continues, “I think people were surprised by the first movie [and] people are going to be surprised by the second film. [I wanted] to give people something new and something different from what they already had.”
Star-Lord doesn’t mind being sexually objectified
“Kevin Feige has a rule,” says Gunn. “He gave me full creative freedom except the one thing [is that] there must be Chris Pratt shirtless.”
Marvel Studios seems to have a thing when it comes to having their leading men show up shirtless at least once in their movies (I’m sure there is a supercut of all of them). Pratt, who was once a little more cuddly and doughy during his days on Parks and Recreation, transformed into hunky and super-cut Star-Lord for the first Guardians and his beefcakiness continues in Vol. 2. That said, he pops up shirtless in one scene to quench the thirst of those wanting to see him naked from the torso up — but does he feel objectified? More than that, does he thinks about the double standard and if his constant shirtlessness will hurt his career.
“Hasn’t hurt my career!” he said, smiling. “We are objects. It’s true, we are. We’re props. They shine a light on us, they paint us up with makeup, and they take a camera and point it at us. Half the time, what ruins it is us talking.”
Pratt starts to dig deeper into the topic, “And as a man, I can say that, but women have been objectified in a way that there’s a pretty horrifying past around it, so it is a little bit different. I don’t know if you’d call it a double standard but I think you have to deal with them separately because there’s a history of objectification that is a sensitive issue. So I can say objectification is good for me because when I turned my body into an object that people like, I got paid a lot of money. And now my grandkids are gonna go to a great college because of the object, you know. But you have to be a little sensitive about that because there are also really great roles, there are a lot more great roles probably, classically written for men than there have been for women.
“It’s not about being sexually attractive or thought of as a beautiful object,” Gunn adds. “It’s about the fact that many women in films today are reduced to being only that. When Chris Pratt or Chris Evans looks beautiful onscreen — or Michael Rooker looks hideous onscreen (laughs) — people take and say “But what’s that guy like? What’s his personality?’”
Gunn explains that Pratt is funny, sexy, vulnerable and has different attributes. But when it comes to women, they are reduced to sexual beings and their personalities are negated. “That’s the really difficult thing and why it isn’t exactly a one-to-one thing between men and women being objectified,” adds Gunn.
As the only woman on the first panel, Elizabeth Debicki puts in her two cents, “I just wanted to say that I think it’s a really interesting question, but it always has to be about context. And for me as an actress, whenever I’ve made the choice to do something like that, it’s always about the context you’re shooting it in, about the story, about what you’re trying to say with your direction with the other actors. It was lovely to play Ayesha because she’s powerful and she keeps all her clothes on.”
“Sometimes a lot of clothes,” adds Gunn.
Debicki laughs, “…sometimes a lot of heavy clothing.”
Sean Gunn needs a lot more credit than he is getting
Many may recognize Sean Gunn (yes, he is James’ bro) from Gilmore Girls, but it’s his dual role in Guardians that makes him great. He plays one of the main Ravagers, Kraglin as well as the physical mo-cap stand-in for Rocket (Bradley Cooper provides the voice). Obviously, Rocket has a major role in both films, but in Vol. 2, Kraglin has a bigger role. During the press conference, the audience and Gunn’s castmates couldn’t stop gushing about his greatness.
“It’s amazing. I don’t think that, that people really understand that what Sean does just for the movie,” says Saldana. “He manages to get like to shrink and curl up and be this big, so he’s always like Rocket-size and he gives us all the passion and all the dynamic that we need to have from Rocket because Rocket is the sassiest character of the Guardians and I don’t think that we would be able to respond to Rocket the same way if Sean wasn’t playing him.”
“When you act there’s both the input and the output. The input is the work you put into it and what you do on set and then the output is what you see onscreen, so for me the input is very similar for both characters, but the output is, is totally different because it takes a whole team of people to make Rocket,” says Gunn. “I’m just a member of that team. But yeah, it’s interesting in this movie because Rocket and Kraglin have a few scenes that they’re in together, so juggling the two things was a very strange and challenging experience for me. But I love it. I love both characters and I’m just really grateful to be a part of it.”
“I’m happy to talk about how great Sean Gunn is, all day long,” Feige chimes in. “There are a few moments where Kraglin brings the emotion and really sort of puts it over the top for me as I watch it.”
Feige also baits us saying, “And although nobody else in this cast is allowed to talk about it, Rocket has encountered other Marvel characters and I will tell you all of the actors have had an amazing time with Sean, as he brings Rocket to life and they can start acting off of him. It’s really impressive.”
Zoe Saldana wants to add another franchise to her resume
With Guardians, Saldana has three major fanboy/girl franchises under her belt, the others being Star Trek where she plays Uhura and James Cameron’s Avatar, which is about to bombard us with multiple sequels in the coming years. When asked if she had to choose another sci-fi movie to star in, she immediately answers, “Dune.”
“I was Lady Jessica every other Halloween and when I wasn’t Lady, I was Bene Gesserit and when I wasn’t Bene, I was a ninja,” laughs Saldana. “I heard that Denis Villeneuve is thinking of revisiting [the movie] and I hope he decides to to it.”
We hope that Mr. Villeneuve is listening.
Stallone is not impressed with your cosplay
Sylvester Stallone isn’t a stranger to franchises with cult followings. In Guardians he plays the Ravager Stakar (aka Star Hawk), who has some bad blood with Yondu. Even before that, he was Rambo, Rocky, Judge Dredd, and John Spartan from the classic Demolition Man.
To prepare for his role for Guardians, Stallone surprisingly didn’t read the comics so that he could have a different approach to the material. “I wanted to go in there with a clean slate and just do what the director wanted to be done,” says Stallone. “I think this kind of being naïve allows you to be directed in a direction they want you to go, without any preconceived ideas.”
As a new member of the MCU, we might expect to see some cosplay of Stallone’s character at Comic-Con — or will we? When asked how he felt about seeing people cosplay his past characters like Rocky, he has some strong opinions.
“I really want to punch them out,” says Stallone with a laugh about seeing someone in Rocky cosplay. “I mean, seriously. It’s copyright infringement, right?”
The original Guardians make an appearance
A press member, who is well-versed in Marvel lore, asks about the many Easter eggs in the movie — particularly one stemming from Sylvester Stallone’s character. (SPOILERS AHEAD) In one of the five post-credit scenes, we see Stakar (Stallone) reunite with a group of fellow Ravagers who he has obviously worked with before. The press member asks if the characters are a nod to the Guardians of the Galaxy of the ’90s (FYI: like the Avengers, the Guardians’ roster has changed many times over the decades). He mentions Ving Rhames and asks if he is playing an original Guardian member, Charlie 27. He also asks if we will get to seem them in the future.
As he asks the question, Gunn looks at Marvel Studios Godfather Kevin Feige with an “Am I allowed to talk about this?” face. Feige takes a beat and then says, “Yeah, they’re definitely the original Guardians. That was the fun of it. When James had the idea to do more with the Yondu character who was also an original Guardians, the notion that he had a team once like Peter does now, that it’d be fun to see them — and Rhames is definitely Charlie 27. Where we see them in the future, time will tell.”
Gunn adds, “With all the post-credit scenes in this movie – which are all funny and fun — I think most of them are things that we hope to see continuing on in the MCU. I think it would be great to see those things and those characters show up.”
The press member presses Gunn to tell us exactly who they are. Gunn cautiously looks over at Feige and he says, “You can name them.”
Gunn excitedly says, “Yeah, Ving Rhames is Charlie 27. Michelle Yeoh is Aleta Ogord, who is the female Star Hawk.”
He goes on to say a host of other characters that are deep cuts into the Marvel lore: Krugar and Mainframe — whose voice you might recognize.
Feige asks Gunn, “Have you told people who Mainframe is?”
Gunn responds, “I haven’t told, do you want to? Should we?”
“No,” Feige answers.
“Oh, I think I did. I blew it. I told one person,” Gunn admits.
Want to know who plays Mainframe? Look it up. You’ll be pleasantly surprised…or just irritated by it.
Based on the introduction to the original Guardians, the events of Vol. 2, and the upcoming movies in the MCU, we could very well see Guardians take a different direction for Vol. 3, which James Gunn is set to direct. But one thing is for certain: Gunn’s passion and care for these characters and their story of family and belonging will continue to be the franchise’s touchstone.
“For me, it’s a very personal film. I have always felt like I didn’t belong. I feel like Rocket, you know, ” admits Gunn. “And fortunately I have some people around me who maybe helped me feel like I’m not completely alone in the world, and just as importantly, I think I grew up with some art, movies, music from David Cronenberg, Steven Spielberg, the Clash, and Alice Cooper. By listening to music and watching movies, I felt a little bit less alone and I hope that that’s what the Guardians does for people. It’s a movie about outcasts for outcasts. And there are people all over the world that it touches, and that’s the most rewarding thing by far about making these movies.”
Dino-Ray Ramos | Film Reporter