Guardians of the Galaxy (film)

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Guardians of the Galaxy
The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Gunn
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by
  • James Gunn
  • Nicole Perlman
Based on Guardians of the Galaxy 
by Dan Abnett
Andy Lanning
Starring
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by
Production
  company
Marvel Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 21, 2014 (2014-07-21) (Dolby Theatre)
  • August 1, 2014 (2014-08-01) (United States)
Running time 122 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $170 million[2]
Box office $507.4 million[3]

Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by James Gunn, who wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, and features an ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a group of extraterrestrial misfits who are on the run after stealing a coveted orb.

Screenwriter Nicole Perlman began working on the screenplay in 2009. Producer Kevin Feige first publicly mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film in 2010, and Marvel Studios announced that the film was in active development at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2012. Gunn was hired to write and direct the film that September. In February 2013, Pratt was hired to play Peter Quill / Star-Lord, and the supporting cast was filled out over the next several months. Filming began in July 2013 at Shepperton Studios, England with filming continuing in London before wrapping up in October 2013. Post-production finished on July 7, 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy premiered in Hollywood on July 21, 2014. It was released in theaters August 1, 2014 in the United States in 3D and IMAX 3D. The film became a critical and financial success, having grossed over $507 million worldwide. A sequel has been announced and is scheduled to be released on July 28, 2017.

Plot

In 1988, following his mother's death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by the Ravagers, a group of space pirates led by Yondu Udonta. Twenty-six years later on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb only to be intercepted by Korath, a subordinate to the fanatical Kree, Ronan. Although Quill escapes with the orb, Yondu discovers his theft and issues a bounty for his capture while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora after the orb.

When Quill attempts to sell the orb on the Nova Empire capital world Xandar, Gamora ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, and the tree-like humanoid Groot. The Nova Corps arrives and arrests all four, imprisoning them in the Kyln. A powerful inmate, Drax, attempts to kill Gamora due to her association with Ronan, who killed his family. Quill dissuades him by saying that Gamora can bring Ronan to him. Gamora reveals that she has betrayed Ronan, unwilling to let him use the orb's power to destroy entire planets such as Xandar. Learning that Gamora has a buyer for the orb, Rocket, Quill, Groot, and Gamora work together to escape the Kyln.

Elsewhere, Ronan meets with the titan Thanos to discuss his daughter Gamora's betrayal and the loss of the orb. Accompanied by Drax, Quill's group escapes the Kyln in his ship—the Milano—and flee to Knowhere, a remote criminal outpost in space built in the giant severed-head of a Celestial. A drunken Drax summons Ronan while the rest of the group meet Gamora's contact, Taneleer Tivan. Tivan opens the orb, revealing an Infinity Stone, an item of immeasurable power that destroys all but the most powerful beings who wield it. Suddenly, Tivan's tormented assistant grabs the Stone, triggering an explosion that engulfs his collection.

Ronan arrives and easily defeats Drax, while the others flee by ship, pursued by Ronan's followers and Gamora's sister Nebula. Nebula destroys Gamora's ship, leaving her floating in space, and Ronan's forces leave with the sphere. Quill contacts Yondu before following Gamora into space, giving her his helmet to survive; Yondu arrives and retrieves the pair. Rocket, Drax, and Groot threaten to attack Yondu's ship to rescue them, but Quill negotiates a truce by convincing Yondu that they can recover the orb. The group agrees that facing Ronan means certain death, but that they must stop him from using the Infinity Stone to destroy the galaxy. On Ronan's flagship, the Dark Aster, Ronan embeds the Stone in his warhammer, taking its power for himself. He contacts Thanos, threatening to kill him after the destruction of Xandar; hateful of her adopted father, Nebula allies with Ronan.

On Xandar, the Dark Aster is confronted by the Ravagers, the Nova Corps, and Quill's group, which breaches the Dark Aster. Ronan uses his empowered warhammer to destroy the Nova Corps fleet. Drax kills Korath, and Gamora defeats Nebula (who escapes) and unlocks Ronan's chambers, but the group finds themselves outmatched by his power until Rocket crashes the Milano through the Dark Aster and into Ronan. The damaged Dark Aster crash-lands on Xandar, with Groot sacrificing himself to shield the group. Ronan emerges from the wreck and prepares to destroy Xandar, but Quill distracts him, allowing Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan's warhammer. Quill grabs the freed Stone, and with Gamora, Drax, and Rocket sharing its burden, they use it to disintegrate Ronan.

In the aftermath, Quill tricks Yondu into taking a container supposedly containing the Stone, then gives the real Stone to the Nova Corps. As the Ravagers leave Xandar, Yondu remarks that it turned out well that they did not deliver Quill to his father per their contract. Quill's group, now known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, have their criminal records expunged, and Quill learns that he is only half-human, his father being part of an ancient, unknown species. Quill finally opens the last present he received from his mother; a cassette tape filled with her favorite songs. The Guardians leave in the rebuilt Milano along with a sapling cut from Groot.

In a post-credits scene, Tivan sits in his destroyed archive with two of his living exhibits: a canine cosmonaut and an anthropomorphic duck.

Cast

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy promoting the film at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International. From top to bottom: Pratt, Saldana, Bautista, Pace, Rooker, Gillan, Hounsou, and del Toro.
The half human, half alien[4] leader of the Guardians who was abducted from Missouri as a child in 1988 and raised by a group of thieves and smugglers called the Ravagers.[5][6][7] About the character, Pratt said, "He had a hard time as a kid, and now he goes around space, making out with hot alien girls and just being a rogue and a bit of a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys, finds a higher purpose for himself",[8] also adding that the character is a mix of Han Solo and Marty McFly.[4] Pratt signed a multi-film contract with Marvel[9] and was allowed to temporarily leave his starring role as Andy Dwyer on the TV series Parks and Recreation in order to accommodate his participation in the film.[10] Prior to filming, Pratt underwent a strict diet and training regimen to lose 60 lb (27 kg) in six months.[11] Wyatt Oleff portrays a young Quill.[12]
An orphan from an alien world who was trained by Thanos to be his personal assassin and seeks redemption from her past crimes.[5][13][14] Saldana said that she became Gamora through make-up rather than computer generated imagery (CGI) or performance capture.[15] On taking the role, Saldana said, "I was just excited to be asked to join by James Gunn and to also play someone green. I've been blue before [in Avatar]."[16] Saldana described Gamora as "...a warrior, she’s an assassin and she’s very lethal but what saves her is the same thing that can doom her. She has a sense of righteousness. She’s a very righteous individual."[4]
A warrior in search of vengeance against Ronan after his family was killed.[13] On relating to the character, Bautista said, "I can just relate to Drax so much it's not even funny. Just the simple things that we have in common. Simple things like the tattoos, the tragedy – because you know, I had a bit of tragedy in my life as well. So it's really easy for me to pull from that." Bautista also said that there is "a lot of comic relief to Drax", but the character was not aware of it. Bautista stated that he did not do much preparation for role, because "Luckily, for me, I'm a lifelong athlete and I adapted real quick."[17] Bautista's makeup took approximately four hours to be applied, though it was able to be removed in just 90 minutes.[18] Drax has various scarring patterns on his body, which replace the simple tattoos from the comics, with each having a specific story. His skin tone was changed from a bright green in the comics to a muddier grey, to avoid visual similarities to the Hulk.[19]
A tree-like humanoid[20] who is the accomplice of Rocket. Diesel stated that he provided the voice and motion capture for Groot, after originally being in talks to star in a new Phase Three Marvel film.[21][22][23] Diesel also provided Groot's voice for several foreign-language releases of the film.[24] Krystian Godlewski portrayed the character on set, though his acting was not used in the final character CGI.[25][26] On the character, Gunn said, "All the Guardians start out the movie as bastards – except Groot. He's an innocent. He's a hundred percent deadly and a hundred percent sweet. He's caught up in Rocket's life, really." Gunn added that the design and movement of Groot took "the better part of a year" to create.[27] Gunn added, that "The ways in which Vin Diesel says 'I am Groot,' I am astounded. All of the 'I am Groots' that were earlier voices didn't sound very good at all... Vin came in and in one day, laid down all these 'I am Groot' tracks, and he's a perfectionist. He made me explain to him with ever [sic] 'I am Groot,' exactly what he was saying... It was amazing when we first put that voice in there how much the character changed and how much he influenced the character."[28] Diesel found an emotional note in his performance, invoking the death of his friend and Fast and Furious co-star Paul Walker, saying, “This was in December [2013], and the first time I came back to dealing with human beings after dealing with death, so playing a character who celebrates life in the way Groot does was very nice."[29] Groot's form and size changing ability is seen, with Gunn stating he has the ability to grow in the film.[30]
A genetically engineered raccoon who is a bounty hunter and mercenary and is a master of weapons and battle tactics.[31][20][5][32] Gunn worked with live raccoons to get the correct feel for the character, and to make sure it was "not a cartoon character", saying "it's not Bugs Bunny in the middle of the Avengers, it's a real, little, somewhat mangled beast that's alone. There's no one else in the universe quite like him, he's been created by these guys to be a mean-ass fighting machine."[33] Describing Rocket in relation to the rest of the Guardians, Cooper said, "I think Rocket is dynamic. He's the sort of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas guy."[34] Cooper voiced Rocket, while Sean Gunn stood-in for the character during filming.[35] James Gunn said that for the role of Rocket, some physical movement from Cooper, including facial expressions and hand movements, was recorded as potential reference for the animators,[36] though much of Sean Gunn's acting is used throughout the film.[25] Before Cooper was cast, James Gunn said that it was a challenge finding a voice for Rocket, saying that he was looking for someone that could balance "the fast-talking speech patterns that Rocket has, but also can be funny, because he is really funny. But also has the heart that Rocket has. Because there are actually some pretty dramatic scenes with Rocket."[37]
A Kree radical who agrees to retrieve an artifact for Thanos in exchange for eradicating his mortal enemies, the Xandarians. Ronan and his Sakaaran army[38] hunt down the Guardians when they interfere with his goals.[5][39] Describing Ronan, Gunn said, "He is the primary villain, and he is a really twisted guy, he has a really religious bent in this film. He has a very sick and twisted view of what morality is; strength is virtue and weakness is sin and that is what he lives by, and I think he is very scary because of his beliefs, which are real to him."[40] Pace, who originally auditioned for Peter Quill,[41] described Ronan as a "psycho" and a "monster".[42]
A blue-skinned bandit who is the leader of the Ravagers and a paternal figure to Quill.[5][43] Yondu helps Quill to steal the orb before Quill betrays him, leaving Yondu and the Ravagers to chase the Guardians. On the character, Rooker said, he has "some interesting issues–not a good guy, not a bad guy. There's hope and there's a heart inside Yondu." Gunn created the film's version of the character specifically with Rooker in mind, while borrowing the character's mohawk and use of a whistle-controlled arrow from the comics. Rooker fully committed to the role once he knew his role on the TV series The Walking Dead would be ending.[44]
An adopted daughter of Thanos who was raised with Gamora as siblings and is a loyal lieutenant in Ronan and Thanos' employ.[5][7] About the character, Gillan said, "She is the female villain of the film ... She is very sadistic and evil, but I like to think for a very valid reason."[45] She also added, "I think she's a really interesting character. What I like to play around with is how jealous she is. She's Gamora's sister, and there's a lot of sibling rivalry. That's the most interesting aspect to me, because jealously can consume you and turn you bitter, and ugly. And she's a total sadist, so that's fun too."[46] Gillan researched Spartans, shaved off her hair, and trained for two months for the role,[46][47] while her makeup took approximately four and a half hours to be applied.[46]
A Kree[38] ally to Ronan who is a feared intergalactic hunter.[5] As to why he took the role Hounsou said, "I have a four-year old son who loves superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Batman. He's got all the costumes. One day he looks at me and says 'Dad, I want to be light-skinned so I could be Spider-Man. Spider-Man has light skin.' That was sort of a shock. This is why I am excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe, so I could hopefully provide that diversity in the role of the superhero."[48]
A corpsman in the Nova Corps, the Nova Empire's military/police force.[5][49]
The leader of the Nova Corps whose mission is to protect the citizens of the Nova Empire and keep peace.[50][5][51]
An obsessive keeper of the largest collection of interstellar fauna, relics, and species in the galaxy who operates out of a place in space named Knowhere.[5][50][52] Describing del Toro's performance, Gunn said, "He's like an outer-space Liberace. That's what it says in the script, which he's kind of doing."[36] On bringing the character to life, del Toro said, "What James [Gunn] wanted, that I found out little by little as I was doing it, is that he wanted me to explore and just keep pushing the character and keep creating [him] as I was in front of the camera."[53]

Additionally, Josh Brolin appears, uncredited, as Thanos through voice acting and performance capture.[54][55][56] Sean Gunn stood-in for Thanos during filming and portrays Kraglin, Yondu's first mate in the Ravagers.[25] Alexis Denisof reprises his role as Thanos's vizier, "The Other", from The Avengers.[57] Ophelia Lovibond plays Carina, the Collector's aide;[58][59] Peter Serafinowicz plays Denarian Garthan Saal, a Nova Corps officer;[60][61] Gregg Henry plays Quill's grandfather;[62][63] Laura Haddock plays Quill's mother, Meredith;[64][61] Melia Kreiling plays Bereet;[65] Christopher Fairbank plays The Broker;[66] Mikaela Hoover plays Nova Prime's assistant;[67] and Marama Corlett plays a pit boss at the bar, The Boot.[68] Canine actor Fred appears as Cosmo.[69] Stephen Blackehart, Emmett J. Scanlan, Alexis Rodney, and Spencer Wilding had supporting roles.[70][71][72] Naomi Ryan also had a supporting role in the film, though it was cut in the final version.[68] Cameos in the film include: James Gunn as a Sakaaran;[69] Stan Lee as a Xandarian Ladies’ Man;[73][69] Lloyd Kaufman as an inmate;[74][75] Nathan Fillion as the voice of an inmate;[76][69] Rob Zombie as the voice of the Ravager Navigator;[69] composer Tyler Bates as a Ravager pilot;[63] and Seth Green as the voice of Howard the Duck.[77]

Production

Development

"I think anybody... who would have said that this would make a great main movie would have been laughed off. It's such an unlikely thing to do. So I think it's lovely to work on something and expose its potential to the point where a company like Marvel will say, 'Yes, this makes sense.'"

—Dan Abnett, co-writer of the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy relaunch, on the project[78]

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige first mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film during an interview at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, stating, "There are some obscure titles, too, like Guardians of the Galaxy. I think they've been revamped recently in a fun way in the [comic] book."[79] Feige reiterated that sentiment in a September 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly, saying, "There's an opportunity to do a big space epic, which Thor sort of hints at, in the cosmic side of the [Marvel Cinematic U]niverse." Feige added, should the film be made, it would feature an ensemble of characters, similar to X-Men and The Avengers.[80]

Feige announced that the film was in active development at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International during the Marvel Studios panel, with an intended release date of August 1, 2014. He stated that the film's titular team would consist of the characters Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.[81] Two pieces of concept art were also displayed, one of Rocket Raccoon, and one featuring the full team.[82] In August 2012, Gunn entered talks to direct the film, beating out other contenders, including Peyton Reed and the duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.[83] The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who signed a deal to creatively consult on all of the films leading up to The Avengers sequel,[84] was enthusiastic about the selection of Gunn to direct, saying "James [Gunn] is what makes me think it will work... He is so off the wall, and so crazy, but so smart, such a craftsman and he builds from his heart. He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon... He has a very twisted take on it, but it all comes from a real love for the material. It's going to be hard for [the human characters] to keep up."[85]

Writing

Nicole Perlman, who was enrolled in Marvel's screenwriting program in 2009,[86] was offered several of their lesser known properties to base a screenplay on. Perlman had chosen Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Guardians of the Galaxy, due to her interest in space and science fiction.[87] "I can’t tell you what the other titles were that [Marvel] were offering up on the table, but I can tell you that one of them was a little bit more appropriate for me, just based on gender," she says. "I think they were a little taken aback when I chose Guardians, because there were ones that would make a lot more sense if you were a romantic-comedy writer or something like that." Perlman spent two years writing a draft, immersing herself in the Guardians universe. In late 2011, Perlman was asked to create another draft, and in early 2012, James Gunn was brought in to contribute to the script,[88][89] who eventually rewrote it entirely because "it didn’t work" for him. Gunn looked to The Dirty Dozen as a reference to convey his ideas of the film to Marvel.[90] Gunn later stated that Perlman's draft was very different from the script he eventually directed from, including a different story, character arcs and no Walkman, saying, "In Nicole’s script everything is pretty different... it's not about the same stuff. But that's how the WGA works. They like first writers an awful lot."[91] In August 2012, Marvel Studios hired writer Chris McCoy to rewrite Perlman's script.[92] However, he did not receive production credit.[50]

Pre-production

In September 2012, Gunn confirmed in a post on his Facebook page that he had signed on to direct the film and rewrite the script.[93] By the end of November, Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Jim Sturgess, Lee Pace and Eddie Redmayne signed deals to test for the role of Peter Quill.[94] A week later in early December, Pace confirmed that he was auditioning for the role.[41] Other actors who were considered for the role included Thor: The Dark World's Zachary Levi,[95] Joseph Gordon-Levitt,[96] and Michael Rosenbaum.[97] In February 2013, Chris Pratt was cast in the role.[98]

Gunn promoting the film at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International.

In January 2013, filming was scheduled to take place at Shepperton Studios in London, England,[99] and Marvel Studios announced that the film would be released in 3D.[100] Victoria Alonso, an executive producer on the film, said that filming would begin in June.[101] She also said that both Rocket Raccoon and Groot would be created through a combination of CGI, going on to say that "You can't do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won't let you put the suit on. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior... we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be, the behavior and the performance. He's very clear on where he wants to take the characters."[101] In an interview published in a March 2013 issue of SFX, Feige discussed Guardians of the Galaxy in relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying, "It's much more of a standalone film. It takes place in the same universe. And when we've been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what's happening out there at this time." Feige also stated that 95% of the film would take place in space.[102] In mid-March, Dave Bautista was signed to play Drax the Destroyer.[103] Other actors who had been considered for the role included Isaiah Mustafa, Brian Patrick Wade and Jason Momoa.[103] By the following week, sculptor Brian Muir, who sculpted Darth Vader's mask for the Star Wars films, was revealed to be working on the film.[104]

In April 2013, Zoe Saldana entered into negotiations to star as Gamora in the film.[105] A few weeks later, Michael Rooker joined the film's cast, as Yondu.[43] Later in the month, Saldana was confirmed to star in the film, and Ophelia Lovibond had been cast in a supporting role.[58] Also by April, Lee Pace was in final negotiations to play the villain of the film.[106] By May, Marvel had offered John C. Reilly the role of Rhomann Dey. At the same time, filmmakers were looking at actors including Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, and Ken Watanabe, for another role, and that Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were polishing the script.[107] A few days later, Glenn Close was cast as the head of the Nova Corps in the film,[51] followed shortly after by the casting of Karen Gillan as the film's lead female villain.[108] By June 2013, Benicio del Toro was cast in the film, signing a multi-film deal with Marvel Studios.[52] Later in the month, Reilly was confirmed to be cast as Rhomann Dey.[49]

Special effects makeup designer David White took head and body casts of actors, such as Bautista, to experiment with materials used to create the characters. White said, "James always pushed for practical and makeup effects. He wanted, like me, to see the real deal there on set." White was careful not to use "modern" creature designs to ensure they did not fall short in Gunn's unique envisioned world. White and his team created upwards of 1,000 prosthetic makeup applications and 2,000 molds of different colored aliens.[109]

Filming

Filming began around July 6, 2013 in London, England,[47] under the working title of "Full Tilt".[4] Later in July, Gunn and the film's cast flew from London to attend San Diego Comic-Con International, where it was revealed that Pace would play Ronan the Accuser, Gillan would be Nebula, del Toro as The Collector, and that Djimon Hounsou had been cast as Korath.[50][47] Close was later revealed to play Nova Prime Irani Rael.[50][5] Also at San Diego Comic-Con, Feige stated that Thanos would be a part of the film as the "mastermind".[110] On August 11, 2013, filming began at London's Millennium Bridge[111] to double as Xandar.[19] In August 2013, Marvel announced that Bradley Cooper would voice Rocket Raccoon.[31] On September 3, 2013, Gunn said that filming was "a little over half[way]" complete.[112] Also in September, Vin Diesel stated that he was voicing Groot.[23] However, Marvel did not confirm Diesel's involvement in the film at the time.[35][36][113] On October 12, 2013, Gunn announced on social media that filming had completed.[114]

Gunn revealed that his brother, Sean Gunn, took on multiple roles during the filming process, such as standing in for Rocket. He expanded by saying, "It was also of great benefit to the other actors, who had a full scene partner who was as an accomplished actor as all of them... Zoe Saldana [felt] Sean was [important] to the whole process and her personally. And I know Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista also agree. Bautista and Sean had – and continue to have – a special bond that I think is very reflective of the onscreen bond between Rocket and Drax."[25] Special effects makeup designer David White also made two life-size versions of Rocket and a bust of Groot as aids for visual effects and lighting, with White saying, "The reason the filmmakers wanted these is because they take them onto the set and... it gives them a good indication of where visual effects needs to pick up and whether Rocket can actually reach certain things or use certain devices. Also they offer them up to the camera at the end of the shot and it just gives them an extra little hint of the lighting because they’re actually painted exactly as they want."[26]

Post-production

The White Desert (top) in Farafra, Egypt was the inspiration for the planet Morag, while the Gardens by the Bay (bottom) in Singapore helped inspire Xandar.[115]

In November 2013, Gunn stated that he attempted to use as many practical effects as possible when filming to aid in the use of CGI and motion capture, saying, "Our sets are enormous. We have a prison that is 350,000 pounds of steel. Anybody who knows me knows I love the mix of practical and CGI effects... I can't wait for people to see it, because it's astonishingly beautiful."[116] After the release of Thor: The Dark World, Feige stated that the Infinity Stones would be a focus in the film, as well as going forward into Phase Three.[117] In a separate interview for The Dark World in November, Feige added that a third, unknown Infinity Stone would be seen in the film,[118] referred to as the "Power Stone" by the Collector.[119][120] The mid-credits scene in The Dark World revealed Lovibond's role to be the Collector's aide, later named Carina.[59] In December 2013, Marvel announced that Diesel would voice Groot.[121]

A few weeks of additional filming, involving the film's main cast and crew, occurred in March 2014 at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.[122][123][124] In April 2014, Gunn described Thanos as the "head of the snake" in the film, and confirmed he would appear via performance capture.[7] In May 2014, Gunn stated that the film features an "enormous" amount of smaller and minor characters from the Marvel Universe, adding that he felt the film had the most characters overall than any Marvel Studios film to date.[125] Costume supervisor Dan Grace added to this by saying, "We really, really get the feeling of the scale and scope of the galaxy. We visit five planets, we see a hundred different races." The film introduces the alien race Sakaaran, who act as Ronan's mercenaries, as a replacement to the Badoon, as the Badoon film rights belonged to 20th Century Fox.[38]

By the end of May, Josh Brolin was revealed as the voice of Thanos,[54][55] with Feige confirming in July that Brolin also provided the performance capture for the character.[56] Thanos communicates via hologram for much of the film, though does appear in a scene with Ronan and Nebula.[119] On casting Brolin, Feige said, "We reached out to him and it was one of those things that does not happen all the time but when it does it’s very nice, where he was totally intrigued. He was a fan of what we did, he met with Jeremy Latcham in a hotel in London and learned about the characters a little bit. I spoke to him on the phone a few times. We ran it by James who loved it, ran it by Joss [Whedon] who loved it because Thanos is in this universe because of Avengers. Then we shot him and recorded for it."[56] In June 2014, Feige added that Thanos and his followers are "the biggest piece of connective tissue that will eventually lead us back into Avengers films in the future."[126] On July 7, 2014, Gunn announced on social media that he had completed work on the film.[127]

Producer Nik Korda noted how helpful it was to have Sean Gunn and Krystian Godlewski portray Rocket and Groot on set, saying, "It’s very important for the animators to see a real-life person performing in the right lighting environment, on the right set, to see how they move, their reach, and so on. Even though it is Sean down on his haunches, it gives us all a sense of the attitude, and Krystian gives us a sense of Groot’s lumbering movements, which help create the animated performance."[26] In August 2014, regarding the post-credit scene, Gunn said, "We did not shoot that scene to have Howard the Duck in it. It was something I thought of during post-production. I just thought we’d pushed the movie so far, why not push it all the way for the ending tag?”[128] He added by saying, "We had a bunch of stuff [for post-credit scenes] with Cosmo and different ideas, and I think it was some combination of me and the editor Fred Raskin who said, 'Let’s put Howard The Duck in there.' What if The Collector looks over and sees Howard The Duck sitting there? And I wrote down the line, 'Whaddya let it lick you like that for? Gross.' Fred and I thought it was hilarious but we weren’t sure that Kevin Feige would go for it. But we told Kevin and Kevin couldn’t stop laughing. Every time he saw it, he was like, 'We’re fucking crazy! We’re fucking crazy!' We decided to do it very late in the game, only a couple of months ago, and we had to design Howard that day. Then we gave him over to the visual effects company that did him. They did a good job very quickly – I think it was Sony [Pictures Imageworks]."[129] Also in August, regarding the pre-credit scene of Groot dancing, Gunn said, "That tree dancing is me. I’m not motion captured but I’m motion referenced, and that is 100 percent me dancing... That was supposed to be either like mid-credits or end credits but when we showed it to the test audience they loved it so much and we were like, ‘We don’t want people walking out and missing this thing,’ so we put it right there after the Guardians logo."[130]

The film's visual effects were created by: Moving Picture Company (MPC), who worked on creating Groot, as well as Morag, Xandar, the Dark Aster and the final battle on Xandar;[115] Framestore, who worked on creating Rocket;[131] Luma Pictures, who worked on Thanos;[115] Method Studios, who worked on creating the Orb opening and revealing its powers and the holographic displays at the Nova Corps command center;[115] Lola VFX; Cantina Creative; Sony Pictures Imageworks, who worked on Howard the Duck and creating the Dark Aster shots with MPC;[129][115] CoSA VFX; Secret Lab; Rise Visual Effects Studios; Technicolor VFX;[132][133] and Industrial Light & Magic.[134] Pre- and post-visualizations were done by Proof and The Third Floor.[115]

Music

In August 2013, Gunn posted on his Facebook page that Tyler Bates would be composing the film's score. Gunn stated that Bates would write some of the score first so that he can film to the music, as opposed to scoring to the film.[135] In February 2014, Gunn revealed that the film would incorporate songs from the 1970s and 1980s, such as "Hooked on a Feeling", on a mixtape in Quill's Walkman, which acts as a way for him to stay connected to the Earth, home and family he lost.[136] In May 2014, Gunn added that using the songs from the 70s and 80s were "cultural reference points", saying, "It’s striking the balance throughout the whole movie, through something that is very unique, but also something that is easily accessible to people at the same time. The music and the Earth stuff is one of those touchstones that we have to remind us that, yeah, [Quill] is a real person from planet Earth who’s just like you and me. Except that he’s in this big outer space adventure."[125]

The film's score and soundtrack, which features the songs from Quill's mixtape, and a deluxe edition featuring both albums, was released by Hollywood Records on July 29, 2014.[137] By August 2014, the soundtrack had reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first soundtrack album in history consisting entirely of previously released songs to top the chart.[138]

Release

Karen Gillan at the London premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy.

The world premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy was held on July 21, 2014 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.[139][140] The film was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on July 31, 2014[125] and in the United States on August 1,[81] in 3D and IMAX 3D.[100][141] The film was released in over 4,080 theaters in the United States, making it the widest August release, breaking the five year record held by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (4,007 theatres). It was also released on 354 IMAX screens, 3,200 3D screens, 350 large formats screens and 240 D-Box screens.[142]

In June 2014, Gunn stated on his Facebook page that the film had always been planned as a 3D film, and "Unlike many directors, I've been actively involved with converting every shot to 3D, making sure it works perfectly for the story and the film, making sure it's spectacular and immersive without being silly, distracting, or overly showy." Gunn also revealed that the IMAX 3D version would include shifting aspect ratios, to make the viewing experience "even fuller and more encompassing. I've personally chosen all the places where the changes occur... The changing aspect ratios in this case are actually a part of the storytelling."[143] In July 2014, Gunn revealed that there were multiple scenes he had cut from the film, and he was investigating how to release them, either in an extended cut of the film, or as bonus features on the film's home media release.[56]

Marketing

In June 2012, Marvel filed eleven trademark applications for Guardians of the Galaxy, covering a variety of consumer products, from video games to cosmetics.[144] Disney Consumer Products partnered with Mad Engine, C-Life, New Era, Hasbro, Disguise, Rubies, Sideshow Collectibles, Lego, KIDdesigns, iHome, Funko, Freeze, Fast Forward and Innovative Designs to produce merchandise for the film, releasing starting in June 2014.[145][146][147][148] Mad Engine and C-Life were partnered as the core apparel outfitters, producing a line of t-shirts and fleece jackets, while New Era produced headwear and hats.[145] Hasbro produced toys for the film, Disguise and Rubies, costumes, and Sideshow Collectibles, collectibles.[145][146] Lego announced three toy sets based on scenes from the film,[147] while iHome created character speakers, Funko made vinyl bobble heads, Freeze crafted 1980s-inspired apparel, and backpacks and stationery were made by Fast Forward and Innovative Designs.[146] Despite first films in a potential new franchise usually being off limits to licensees, Marvel used Iron Man's success as evidence of unknown characters becoming hits with audiences to attract partnerships, and licensees have embraced Rocket as the film's potential breakout character, as well as Star-Lord’s obsession with 1980s nostalgia, including his "Awesome Mix Vo. 1" cassette, to craft products around, along with Drax and Gamora for older demographics.[146]

The cast and crew of Guardians of the Galaxy at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International. (L-R: producer Kevin Feige, Bautista, director James Gunn, del Toro, Saldana, Hounsou, Pace, Rooker, Gillan, and Pratt)

In August 2013, Feige presented footage first revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2013, at Disney's D23 Expo.[149] The first trailer for the film debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on February 18, 2014, with a special introduction by Chris Pratt.[6] The Los Angeles Times said the trailer "delivers some spirited alien action, with exploding spaceships and muscled bad guys, not to mention a few purely comedic moments," while spotlighting "a number of the offbeat characters."[150] Total Film noted how the opening clip was reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which Gunn stated was a big influence for Guardians,[151] and made note of the "edgy" humor used throughout.[152] Total Film also stated the similarity of the trailer to the one debuted at Comic-Con and D23, with a few new shots featuring Nebula and the Collector.[153][154] Social media response to the trailer was strong, with 88,000 mentions across Twitter, Facebook and various blogs in a 12-hour period. The numbers were comparable to trailers for other superhero films like Man of Steel and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and noteworthy for the late night in which it premiered.[155] Following the debut of the trailer, Blue Swede's version of "Hooked on a Feeling", which was prominently used throughout the trailer, went up 700% in sales the following day.[156] The line featured in the trailer from Serafinowicz's character, "What a bunch of A-holes.", was only intended to be featured in the trailers, but due to its positive reception, was included in the final cut of the film.[157]

In March 2014, ABC aired a one-hour television special titled, Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, which included a sneak peek of Guardians of the Galaxy.[158] Starting in April 2014, a two-part prelude comic was released, titled Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude. Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art by Wellington Alves, the first issue focused on the background of Nebula and the bond she has with Thanos, while the second issue featured the adventures of Rocket and Groot before they join forces with the other Guardians.[159] In June 2014, Mike Pasciullo, senior VP of Marvel Studios described the marketing approach for Guardians of the Galaxy, by saying that Marvel had "built a robust marketing program for the theatrical release that carefully integrates traditional advertising, social media, digital marketing, strategic promotional partnerships, organic entertainment integrations [and] publicity."[146]

In July 2014, Marvel launched a viral marketing campaign for the film called "Galaxy Getaways", a fictional travel website that allows users to book passage to some of the planets depicted in the film including Xandar, Morag, and Knowhere.[160] Beginning July 4, 2014, a sneak peek of the film was presented at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Magic Eye and ABC Sound Studio theaters, respectively.[161] Approximately 14 minutes of the film was screened on July 7, 2014 in IMAX 3D in the United States, and 3D theaters and IMAX 3D in Canada, along with two trailers.[162][163] The screening was met with positive reviews, praising the humor, the 3D and IMAX conversion, and Cooper's portrayal of Rocket.[163][164][165][166] However, it was criticized for beginning partway through the film, unable to allow viewers to easily acclimate to the film's tone,[164][167] and for how the general audience may respond to a film within the MCU without established characters making appearances.[167]

On July 12, 2014, Gunn and the actors from the film promoted Guardians of the Galaxy at the Lido 8 Cineplex in Singapore.[168] On July 17, 2014, Disney Interactive released an action RPG video game titled Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon for iOS, Android and Windows devices.[169] The game's original story was written by Dan Abnett, and is meant to complement the film.[170] On July 21, Pratt, Saldana, Bautista, Diesel and Cooper appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the film and debut some additional exclusive content.[140] On July 29, Pratt and Saldana rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange to promote the film.[171]

On August 14, Marvel released the post-credit scene of Groot dancing,[172] which was shortly followed by an announcement from Funko that they were releasing a toy of "Dancing Groot". The Hollywood Reporter noted that the quick release of the scene from Marvel two weeks after the film's theatrical release, along with rush announcement from Funko, indicated the popularity the character and scene were receiving.[173] The scene also produced the word "grooting", coined by Michael Rooker, in which a person dances similar to Groot, with the word entering social media lexicon.[174] Also in the month, Marvel held a special screening of the film at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where Pratt dressed as Star-Lord to entertain the patients.[175]

Reception

Box office

As of August 28, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy has earned $262.1 million in North America and $245.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $507.4 million.[3] Guardians of the Galaxy became the fourteenth movie of 2014 to make over $300 million, which it did in 10 days.[176]

North America

Guardians of the Galaxy earned $11.2 million from Thursday night showings, which surpassed Captain America: The Winter Soldier's gross ($10.2 million) for the biggest Thursday evening start for a movie in 2014.[177] IMAX accounted for 17% of the total gross with $1.9 million, which was the biggest August pre-release in IMAX format, as well as the second best pre-release showing for a Disney or Marvel film, behind Iron Man 3.[142] On its opening day, the film earned $26.6 million, for a total of $37.8 million, including the Thursday night earnings.[178] Guardians of the Galaxy was the number one movie during its opening weekend and grossed $94.3 million, topping The Bourne Ultimatum's record ($69.3 million) for the highest weekend debut in August.[179] Its debut weekend gross was the third biggest of 2014 behind Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100 million) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million).[180] In its fourth weekend, August 22-24, the film took in $17.6 million, placing it at number one once again, becoming the first film in 2014 to top the domestic box office in non-consecutive weeks,[181] as well as passing Transformers: Age of Extinction as the top grossing film of May-August 2014.[182] By August 29, it had passed Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the top grossing domestic film of 2014.[183]

Outside North America

Guardians of the Galaxy was released in 42 international markets and grossed $66.4 million on its opening weekend.[184] The biggest debuts came from Russia ($13 million), the United Kingdom ($10.8), Mexico ($6.5 million) and Brazil ($6.5 million).[185] The following week, the film earned $40.1 million from 50 territories,[186] while earning $33.1 million from 66 territories in its third weekend.[187]

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 92% approval rating with an average rating of 7.7/10 based on 233 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect–as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor."[188] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 76 out of 100 based on 46 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[189] CinemaScore audiences gave Guardians of the Galaxy an "A" grade rating on an A+ to F scale,[190] while earning an "A+" among under-18 and 25–34 year old viewers.[180]

Scott Foundas of Variety said "James Gunn's presumptive franchise-starter is overlong, overstuffed and sometimes too eager to please, but the cheeky comic tone keeps things buoyant — as does Chris Pratt’s winning performance",and praised the film's look created by cinematographer Ben Davis, production designer Charles Wood and special effects makeup designer David White.[132] Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter also praised the film's look, and felt "A well-matched ensemble rises to the challenge of launching a heroic origin film with distinctive style, abundant thrills and no shortage of humor."[191] The Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin said, "A brand new summer family blockbuster this may be, but it plays by old, half-forgotten rules; trimming out the clutter and cross-referencing for snappy, streamlined, Saturday-cartoon fun".[192] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you're not quite sure what's going on, the scruffy Guardians is irreverent in a way that can bring the first Star Wars to mind, in part because it has some of the most unconventional heroes this side of the Mos Eisley Cantina."[193] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said, "While Guardians takes you down one after another crazy narrative turn, it also pulls you into – and, for the most part, keeps you in – a fully realized other world."[194] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "Guardians of the Galaxy is a late summer treat—a mostly lighthearted and self-referential comic-book movie with loads of whiz-bang action, some laugh-out-loud moments and a couple of surprisingly beautiful and touching scenes as well," calling it "a refreshing confection of entertainment."[195] Jim Starlin, creator of Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Thanos, said it "might be Marvel's best movie yet".[196]

Jake Coyle of the Associated Press was more critical of the film, calling it "terribly overstuffed and many of the jokes get drowned out by the special effects... The pervasive movie references detract from the stab at freshness, and Guardians depends all too much on the whimsy of '70s anthems for an original beat." He also felt that Close, Reilly and del Toro were underused in the film.[197] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "In place of wit, Guardians offers a sort of generalized willingness to be amusing, an atmosphere of high spirits that feels like lots of people pumping air into a tire that has a hole in it. Everyone is clearly working, but nothing is really happening–and yet the effort is so evident that there's an impulse to reward it."[198] Kyle Smith of the New York Post negatively compared the film to Howard the Duck and Green Lantern, criticizing the dialogue, villains, soundtrack, lack of suspense, and the characters of Rocket and Drax.[199]

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2014 CinemaCon Awards Breakthrough Performer of the Year Chris Pratt Won [200]
Young Hollywood Awards Super Superhero Chris Pratt Nominated [201]

Sequel

In May 2014 Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, noted the potential of making Guardians of the Galaxy into a franchise, saying, "We’re looking forward to introducing the world to more fantastic Marvel storytelling, with a great cast of new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, which we screened last week and we believe it has strong franchise potential."[202] He added, "I'm not going to predict that we've got another Avengers on our hands, but that's certainly the goal."[203] Later in the month, Gunn revealed that, should a sequel film be made, he would like to return, in addition to being contractually obligated if asked.[18] In June 2014, Feige added, "should this film work, should the audience come out for this one, there are definitely places we can take [the franchise] and we have ideas of where we'd like to go with it," due to the wide array of characters, worlds and story lines from Guardians comics.[126]

In July 2014, co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman confirmed a sequel, saying it was "going to happen" due to the positive response, and confirmed that Gunn would write and direct.[204][205] At San Diego Comic-Con 2014, a sequel was confirmed to be in development, with a release date of July 28, 2017.[206] Also in July, Gunn said he knew "a lot of where I want to go [in the sequel]. I have a lot of ideas for stories and characters that are going to appear, and there are documents written up." Gunn added he hoped to explore more about Quill's father, Yondu, Drax and Nebula, as well as expand on Xandarian, Kree, Krylorian and Ravager culture.[91] Gunn also said he was exploring a potential crossover with the Avengers, saying, "We talked about all sorts of possibilities [for a crossover] and I kind of know what the basic plan is. It could always change at any minute. That could or could not include a couple of Avengers and a couple of Guardians meeting up, or all of the Avengers and all of the Guardians. But, we do inhabit the same universe and they’re pretty big personalities that are likely to, at some point or another, run into each other."[207] In August, Gunn stated that "at least one more Guardian from the comics" should appear in the sequel,[208] and revealed that he had started working on the film.[209] Gunn stated later in the month that Quill's father would not be J'son of Spartax as in the comics.[210]

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