James Gunn is taking a bit of a victory lap. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the movie which was dubbed Marvel’s biggest risks and became one of its biggest successes, is hitting streaming services on November 18 and Blu-ray and DVD on December 9.
And now things look a little differently for the writer-director. I got on the phone with Gunn to take a brief look back and ask about what’s next for Star-Lord, Rocket, Gamora, Drax and Groot.
It feels like it just came out on the one hand. On the other hand, I feel like it came out five years ago.
What has it been like to revisit it?
It’s not like I’ve watched the movie again. [Laughs] It’s great because I’m so much more relaxed than last time. Last time I was waiting to see how the movie was going to do. When I was doing all of the press junkets, it hadn’t come out yet. Now, it’s like that part is behind me. The movie did exceptionally well. That’s pleasing, so I’m able to just talk about the movie itself, as opposed to having this other nervous energy driving me all the time.
You have this base of “You all actually liked the movie now.”
The truth is that I knew people liked the movie because a lot of the reviews had already come out, and I could tell just at the press junkets in general that people really liked the movie. I just didn’t know how it was going to perform at the box office. We were supposed to make — at one point — $50 million opening weekend. Frankly, that would have been a disappointment. Instead, we came out and did $94 million, which is way more than we expected.
What was it like dealing with the pre-release conversation about how big of a risk this movie was?
I didn’t really deal with it that much mentally. My whole mind was completely taken up by making this film. Actually, when you’re that creatively invigorated other things don’t come into play that much. I think every once in a while, I’d wake up at 3 a.m. and go, “Oh my God. What am I doing? What if this movie doesn’t work? I’ll have wasted two years of my life.” For the most part, I was completely invigorated by making the film. It wasn’t until I was done making the movie. The first press junket was in Singapore. I was doing 3D until 11 a.m., and then I had to leave and get on a plane. That’s when my hand in making the movie was done. That’s the moment more of the worries of the performance of the film started to come in.
People are going to get a chance to examine the movie on video that they couldn’t in theater. Are there things that people haven’t found yet?
There’s other stuff in the Collector’s collection that maybe people haven’t seen, but people have found a lot of it. I’m more excited for people to see the movie again because I think those people who have seen the movie in theaters numerous times know that there is a lot of stuff to find in the movie, and now a lot of people are going to get to know that.
It has to be world of difference going into a “Guardians” movie now that you know people will respond to these characters.
That is a big weight off your chest. You know that this is a property that people like, that people are going to be looking forward to. We don’t have to convince them to go see this movie. They’ll be interested in seeing “Guardians 2.” At the same time, I was very invigorated again, creatively, by the idea of the first movie. This movie is “How can we take these characters forward in a new way and get to know them better in a way that isn’t going to be expected by the audience. The sequel has its own set of challenges, but they’re creative as opposed to business and marketing.
Is it a big relief to be able to dive right into these characters interacting for the sequel?
It’s huge. It’s huge because really the most difficult part of “Guardians” was having to set up a large amount of characters in the first act. All of our challenges were basically in the first act of this movie. Now that people know the basic five characters, it makes it a little easier to focus on the storytelling and getting to know the characters better as opposed to setting up who they are and what they can do.
How much freedom do you have for “Guardians 2” when the future of the Marvel Universe is planned out two years beyond it?
I don’t feel beholden to that stuff at all. I think it’s really about the Guardians and what they are doing. We’re not subservient to the Avengers. “Guardians 2” is not a movie that’s made to move toward “Infinity War.” It’s something that’s made to move toward future cosmic movies, so I don’t feel that that is something that affects me that much.
“Guardians of the Galaxy 2” opens in theaters on May 5, 2017.