Interview: James Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy Deleted Scenes, Lost Moments and Beyond

Even with the full support of Marvel Studios and Disney behind it, few would have predicted that Guardians of the Galaxy would be 2014’s biggest domestic box office hit so far. But Marvel signaled its confidence in the franchise by announcing Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at Comic-Con International, a week before the first film was released in theaters.

Director James Gunn is shepherding the “Guardians” franchise for Marvel after helming the first movie and signing on to direct the sequel as well. During a recent event in Los Angeles, Gunn introduced a press screening of the special features from the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray and DVD (which will be released on Tuesday, December 9) along with a selection of deleted scenes from the movie.

Following the screening, SuperHeroHype caught up with Gunn to discuss some of the deleted scenes that didn’t make the cut. Gunn also spoke about which additional character he wanted on the Guardians team in the first film before offering his thoughts on the Celestials, a few of the movie’s lost jokes and which characters he believes could potentially carry their own movie.

SuperHeroHype: You’ve mentioned that some new characters will probably join the team in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. But were there any characters who just missed the cut in your treatment for the first film?

James Gunn: Yeah. Bug did. I thought about putting Bug in the movie and I didn’t… Marvel didn’t have the rights to him. So that was not a “go” deal.

SHH: Then who has the rights to Bug?

Gunn: Micronauts, I believe.

SHH: But Bug was an original character created for the Micronauts comic that Marvel published.

Gunn: Who knows? Somethings go…

SHH: That’s like putting the Badoon with the X-Men rights even though they will never use the Badoon in an X-Men movie.

Gunn: Right, well I had the Badoon in the movie too. I had to change it to the Sakaaran.

SHH: One of the things that I noticed is that the scene from the trailer with Star-Lord and Gamora checking each other out while changing wasn’t in the deleted scenes we were shown this morning. Did that not make the cut?

Gunn: Yeah, I guess I noticed that this morning as well. [Laughs] That was part of the montage that I guess isn’t on the Blu-ray.

SHH: So, will that scene show up at some point?

Gunn: It’ll show up at some point.

SHH: Super special edition, perhaps?

Gunn: I don’t know. I hope not. But something will get it out there to the fans.

SHH: Were there any jokes that were cut from the movie because they were too funny and they were undercutting the drama?

Gunn: I know what you’re saying…

SHH: The deleted scene where the Guardians voted on Rocket’s fake laugh. Was that one of those?

Gunn: I don’t think that was why that was cut. I think that scene was just a long scene and it was the perfect length and having the vote, which I like a lot, just made it a little too long. So that’s all that was. That was a hard decision to cut that. Just because we joke all the time — Chris [Pratt] and I are constantly making jokes — there’s lots of stuff that we had to cut because it would have been jokes all of the time. There were times when Ronan and Nebula were funny that we cut because we didn’t want it to seem like Spaceballs.

SHH: Now I’ve got to see this! You mean that there are joke scenes between Ronan and Nebula?

Gunn: Yeah. Ronan says some funny stuff at certain points that we cut from the movie.

SHH: And that’s not on the DVD?!

Gunn: Doesn’t really work like that. On a DVD you put scenes. Even “the vote” is hard because it’s a little scene. But we’re talking moments in which he does something like that. You can’t put moments in the DVD.

SHH: I can tell you that as a fan, I think that a lot of us would have loved to have seen that.

Gunn: Not only that, the other thing is that most of the stuff on the DVD are scenes that could have actually taken place in the movie. We didn’t put anything on the DVD that couldn’t have conceivably happened in the film.

SHH: That deleted scene where Rhomann Dey was trying to get his lights to work struck me as one of those moments.

Gunn: Yes, exactly! That could have been there. The conversation between Nebula and Gamora probably happened within the context of the movie… we just didn’t see it. Rocket and Groot [in the alternate introduction] that probably happened. All of the stuff in the [special features] probably happened, it just isn’t something that we saw in the movie.

But I will say that scene in particular — the light scene — was something that was a little too… comedy movie-ish to be put in the movie. And it wasn’t a matter of it undercutting the drama, it just seemed a little tonally inconsistent with the rest of the film.

SHH: When you were working on your treatment, which of the new Guardians comics inspired your take on the screenplay? I remember the whole bit with Groot sacrificing himself and regrowing himself was straight from Annihilation: Conquest.

Gunn: 100 percent [Dan] Abnett and [Andy] Lanning. The movie is based on Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

SHH: I actually went into the movie expected that to happen to Groot because it had happened to him in their first adventure as a team.

Gunn: Yeah, Baby Groot is something from the comics to be sure.

SHH: This is a shot in the dark, but did “Farscape” inspire this movie in any way? Because I see a lot of that show in this movie, both in Peter Quill and in the way that the universe is presented.

Gunn: Well actually, people ask me about every show you can imagine. They ask me about every single science fiction show, but Farscape is about the only one… The only science fiction shows that I think I ever really watched were “Farscape” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

SHH: Quill does strike me as a successor to John Crichton.

Gunn: Yeah… I’m sure there’s influence there. I like that show.

SHH: In the film, you showed one of the Celestials during The Collector’s scene and I was wondering… Were the Celestials deriving their power from the Infinity Stones? Or were they already empowered?

Gunn: Both.

SHH: Both?

Gunn: Yeah, they’re very powerful. But then they were also supplementing their power with Infinity Stones.

SHH: Out of the Guardians in the movie, which characters do you think could carry their own films?

Gunn: All of them. And some of the other ones too.

SHH: Yeah, you said something about having your eye on other characters in the movie for their own stories. Can you give us any clues about who you meant?

Gunn: I think there’s a lot of interesting characters in there… I love Yondu and the Ravagers and I think that’s a really exciting part of this cosmic universe.

SHH: I’d kind of love to see a Nova Corps movie with Glenn Close and John C. Reilly back on board for that.

Gunn: Yeah… that could be done. Sure.

SHH: Will we see the original incarnation of the Guardians team pop up in some way during the sequel? You had a version of Yondu in this movie, so is say… Charlie-27 next?

Gunn: You’re gonna have to wait and see! [Laughs] Of course that’s possible…

SHH: You’ve mentioned many times that Peter Quill’s father will be a different person in the sequel than he is in the comics. Since that was one of the more recent changes in the comic, I was curious about how and when you went in different directions.

Gunn: From the moment I set pen to paper. His origin story is not the same, so everything is quite different.

SHH: Well Star-Lord didn’t have a whole lot of personality in the comics until just a few years ago. And I think that because of this film, everyone going forward will see Star-Lord with Chris Pratt’s persona from the movie.

Gunn: Good. Fine.

SHH: No, it is a good thing. He embodies that character now.

Gunn: Yeah, Chris is an amazing actor and I think that the role in the movie was really fun for him and I think that we feel very strongly that we’re approaching the characters in the way that they’re meant to be approached.

SHH: At what point in the audition process did you realize that Chris was your pick for Star-Lord?

Gunn: About twenty seconds after Chris started auditioning.

SHH: That fast?

Gunn: For sure. 100 percent.

SHH: Marvel moved up the release date of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to May 5, 2017. Is that going to affect your production time table?

Gunn: Yeah, we’ll have to start shooting two months earlier, but that’s it. We had time anyway, so we’re okay. And I think we already have a story worked out for the next movie. Switching places [with Thor: Ragnarok] is a slightly better date for us, so it’s good. I’m really happy with that date.

SHH: The beginning of May is actually the flagship date for Marvel Studios.

Gunn: Yep. So I was very, very happy to move there.

SHH: We’re down to our last question, so is there anything you can tease for Guardians of the Galaxy 2?

Gunn: Yeah… we’re gonna start with the beheading of Rocket Raccoon. It’s gonna be a shocking, shocking beginning. And then shortly after that there’s going to be a Celestial that’s going to come and kill the rest of the Guardians. And then Benicio Del Toro is going to pick up the mantle as The Collector and he’s going to be the new Guardian of the Galaxy. [Laughs to demonstrate that he’s kidding] We’ll have lots of surprises for people.

Guardians of the Galaxy will be available on DVD and Blu-ray December 9.