The Worlds and Aliens of Guardians of the Galaxy
If the team themselves wasn't an indicator, the world of Guardians of the Galaxy is populated with a wide array of different aliens and locations. Marvel isn't pulling any punches with their giant space opera. In fact, they're fully embracing the oddity and otherworldliness of the series in the film.
“We really, really get the feeling of the scale and scope of the galaxy,” costume supervisor Dan Grace said. “We visit five planets, we see a hundred different races.”
One of the new alien races introduced in the series are the Sakaaran, which is actually a new name for the famous “Badoon” race whom Marvel was unable to use in the film because they're currently owned by Fox. We were shown a number of concept art pieces for these aliens and they make The Avengers' Chitauri look like "My Little Pony." The aliens wear a mask that fully conceals their face, but when they take it off it's a disgusting, almost decayed look.
“They are very gruesome underneath,” Grace teased.
Ronan will use the Sakaaran as his mercenaries in the film and assemble them in his fight to purify the galaxy. And speaking of Ronan, he, along with Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, will be the introduction of the Kree race into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. James Gunn did clarify though that despite Kree being introduced into the film, their time in the spotlight will be minimal.
“We have plenty of Kree people in the movie, but the only thing we delve into is a little bit with like Ronan’s backstory, which he tells us a little about in one scene.”
With all these bad guys though, there's got to be some good and that's where the Nova Corps come in. The intergalactic police force of the film, the Novas all wear uniform outfits that, while similar to the comic book basis, are a little more militaristic in their appearance.
“They are pretty much identical,” Grace said of the Corps. “They have different ranks and different metal bars, but essentially no, they are not in any way a sort of mercenary force. They are very rigidly clean-cut. A well-run force. So there's no real individuality.”
The group is led by Centurion Rael, played by Glenn Close, and Centurion Rhomann Dey played by John C. Reilly. The Nova Corps do have a base of operations which is the planet Xandar, one of the first locations we see in the film and also the point in the galaxy in which Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot all meet each other for the first time. You might even remember hearing John C. Reilly mention it in the first trailer for the film.
“Xandar is the world that we would recognize the most as a sort of sci-fi, futuristic place,” Grace said. “It is kind of utopian, and it's maybe the Earth that we can aspire to. The way we portray the galaxy in the movie is pretty rough and ready and there's a lot of a ne'er do wells and bad people and whatever, but there's also a really good side to it. So we wanted to make sure that there was a sort of part of the galaxy worth saving.”
Xandar will also be constructed on screen using a number of practical locations, such as the Millennium Bridge in London, of which a number of set photos surfaced during production.
“Xandar is the big, bright, pulpy, colorful world,” Dan Grace said. “It's a big change for us to show off what our universe looks like.”
Another of the nicer planets we'll see in “Guardians” is Morag, which was described to us as “Sixties chic” which Chris Pratt called “mind blowing.” However, the niceness of Morag and Xandar will highlight just how depraved another pivotal location in the film is: Knowhere. Yes, the base of operations the Guardians used in the 2008 comic series will be present and it plays a major part in some pivotal scenes in the film.
“Knowhere is the diametric opposite of Xandar. It's the down and dirty, seedy part of the planet where it's actually a mining community,” Grace revealed. “They actually mine spinal fluid of a sentient being because the planet of Knowhere is actually the skull of an ancient, vast sentient being that's been killed, and his head has spun off into orbit and become a planet on its own. This place has got gangs. This place has got brothels. It's got gambling. And it's the other end. Our characters really are more at home here than on Xandar.”
Knowhere will also be the place in which we meet one very important character, The Collector played by Benicio Del Toro, who was previously seen in the post-credit sequence of Thor: The Dark World.
“He's been absolutely amazing, an incredible intelligent actor who we're also really lucky to have,” producer Jonathan Schwartz said. “We're going to learn a lot about their world, their universe, from the Collector who has this amazing lab and museum with him, which I think fans of the comics will really appreciate.”
“The collector’s very connected to the overall universe and what’s happening in the movie,” Gunn later clarified. “But within this movie he’s a supporting character. Benicio’s the best. He’s really creepy in the movie.”
Knowhere isn't the only seedy district we'll see in Guardians of the Galaxy as we'll find our heroes locked up in the Nova Corps prison, called “The Kyln,” for a good stretch of the film. Just like the bridge of the Dark Astor, The Kyln was a practical set constructed for the film and is one of the most elaborate pieces put together for a Marvel film.
“There's this long dollying crane shot that's on our backs,” Pratt revealed about the 360° set. “And then lifts up and then circles around and you see a fight break out and it pans down to a second level and you see these ominous prisoners grab someone and drag him into a cell and then it goes down even further and you see details that I don't want to give away but you'll know this shot. It was so surreal because the shot ends on my face looking around taking it all in and then it quickly cuts out.”
Another shot fans will notice during the scenes in The Kyln is one that James Gunn calls the “Locked Up Abroad” shot, of which he is clearly a big fan.
“Instead of sleeping in single cells, only the protected inmates are in single cells and (Peter) is in this cell with a bunch - he’s asleep with the people’s feet next to him and on the floor with all these people. And there’s a scene in there where he’s just surrounded by these aliens of different types and having to snuggle up with them. (Laughs) I love that one shot.”
One detail that fans might notice in The Kyln is the uniforms the characters are forced to wear, which will reference all of the crimes they have committed in the form of “Crime Bars” on their sleeves and pant legs.
“Gamora has got a hundred of 'em going down her leg,” Grace told us. “And Drax has got various crimes. Rocket's got loads, 'cause he's always up to no good. It'll never be explained, I don't think, but you know, it just gives more flavor and texture, and we want to make it as believable and as real as possible.”
Head to Page 4 to learn about the unlikely director behind the unlikely heroes!