"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" writer/director James Gunn is not here to give you the same old, same old. He wants to take you on a journey you never knew you wanted to go on, as we learned when we visited the "Guardians Vol. 2" set in Atlanta last year.
Gunn sat down with Moviefone and a small group of reporters to talk about picking the music for the new mix tape, directing the legendary Kurt Russell, and Chris Pratt's true feelings about Baby Groot.
You tweeted that there wasn't a J'son in the MCU, so when this movie comes out, how do you explain that?
James Gunn: There is no J'son in the MCU. That's just [the name] we're using for now, but he isn't named J'son in the movie. It's not about the big reveal of who the father is; it really is about the story between the different characters. We're probably all going to know by the time the movie comes out, it happens pretty close to the beginning of the film. It's not something we reveal at the end of the film.
How has the script changed as you've worked on the movie?
There was one major thing that happened during the treatment phase, not even during the script phase. During the treatment phase there was another character that was a major character, and although it kind of worked generally in the story, I got to the place where there were too many characters.
Since Nebula and Gamora's issues stem so much from Thanos, why isn't he in the movie?
It's about two sisters, and what were the sisters' problems with each other. And yes, some of those have been caused by being raised by the ultimate abusive father, but it really isn't about Thanos, and frankly, I just wasn't inspired to put him in the movie. I just kind of go with my gut on these things, and it just wasn't what I wanted to do. It wasn't the most fun part of the movie last time for me, and I just didn't want to do it this time. It's not about their relationship with Thanos, it's about their relationship to each other. And that was interesting to me, and I thought that was important to our story and important to our characters.
What story did you want to tell with this second movie?
Well, I think the first film is about becoming a family and this second film is about being a family. I knew exactly where the characters needed to go, and I felt extremely freed by not having to set-up so many major characters in 20 minutes like I did in the first movie, which was by far the biggest pain in the *ss.
Would you say this a departure from the first film?
Yeah, I think one of the things that worked about the first movie is that people went into the movie expecting one thing and they got something they liked more than what they expected. And I think this second movie is the same thing. I don't think it's going to be what anyone expects.
Did you draw inspiration for Mantis from the comics, or is she your take on Mantis?
Both. It's my version, but there are elements of the comic as well. Frankly, some of these characters that do have the various pasts and the various different origins are a little bit easier in "Guardians" movies, because they don't come as with as much expectations.
What inspired your choices for this soundtrack?
I think the soundtrack is an evolution from the soundtrack of the first movie. I think the first movie was made for a child that was a couple years younger than the child that this was made for. So it's slightly more complex songs. I also think we had a wider variety of songs. We have a couple of songs that are enormous songs, which we didn't have in the first movie, and we also have a couple of songs that are almost completely unknown.
Was it always going to be Baby Groot, or did you throw around the idea of a grown-up Groot?
I started out thinking of him as full-grown and all of a sudden I thought, "That's what you would think you would do. We really don't have to stick with that, it really could be Baby Groot." He's very different. He's a unique little fellow and he's pretty great in the movie. He's not even there and all of the time Chris is like "Godd*mmit he's gonna steal the f*cking movie."
Can you tell us about the big villain, Ayesha?
She's a member of this race called The Sovereign, and they're all genetically created. They're created by themselves as sort of a self-sustaining race that who are created as perfect beings, and they think of themselves as perfect.
What was it like going from a fan of Kurt Russell to directing him?
Pretty crazy, because, honestly, "Escape From New York," to me, was one of those Bible movies as a kid. It was one of those core experience films. So working with Snake Plissken has been quite an experience. But, he's great. He's been the most down-to-earth, and he's funny as sh*t.
Can you tell us a little bit about Kurt Russell's character, Ego?
He's a lot like Kurt Russell. He's a very interesting guy, and I think he's a very thoughtful guy and a very gregarious guy. We get to see Kurt Russell in his full glory, expressing himself.
What is the relationship between Mantis and Ego?
She works for him, basically. I think it's very interesting to watch the relationship between Mantis and the other characters, because, like them, she's an outcast. I think the relationship between her and Drax is interesting because they're both complete oddballs.
Can you talk about your portrayal of women and having them standalone and have their own storylines?
For me, it just strictly comes down to one thing, which is trying to make all the characters be equally characters ... to have the equal amount of weaknesses and strengths. Do I think my writing as a whole has always done that? Yeah, completely. Do I think that having four primary female characters is a cool thing? Absolutely.